6 If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. 7 Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; 8 for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. 10 For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.
11 Command and teach these things. 12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. 14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. 16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1 Timothy 4:6-16)
Paul has a great deal of instruction for Timothy in this book of first Timothy. However, we have seen that the instructions given are not just for Timothy, but are words for us as well. The steps that Timothy is to walk in regarding his love for Christ are the same ones that are for us. Timothy is receiving instruction so that he can instruct others. This is important because we are all called to live lives that are pleasing to God. We all, who have been born again, we are all to live for Jesus. From the youngest Christian here to the oldest, this is true for each of us. And so while we see some instruction to Timothy that may seem carefully crafted for him and his position in life, carefully given to him in his unique circumstances, let’s not miss out on the larger message that is directed to each of us who are believers in Jesus.
Verse 11 says “Command and teach these things.” Timothy was to take in Paul’s instructions from the previous paragraph and relay them to the church as commands and teaching. To command is just that, it is to order someone. It is a strong word that reminds us that God’s Word has strong commands for us, not just suggestions but commands. God is not wishy washy with His words, He is direct and His words come to us with power. His words are wise, they are true, and they are authoritative.
I don’t know, sometimes we probably don’t see them that way. We think, “Okay, well, this bit of instruction I’ll follow but this other thing, well surely He didn’t mean it that way, that must be just for some people but not for me.” It is like we forget that God is God, that He is our ruler, that He is in charge, and we treat Him as if He is not in charge in our lack of commitment to following His authoritative Word. But Paul says, “Command these things.” Speak of them as from God Himself.
Reading and understanding these words, “Command these things,” can really help us in our relationships with others. It is sort of a broad shield that we can hide behind. What I mean is when we speak God’s Word and in a situation where it is not popular, we can say with all confidence, “These are God’s words, not mine. I am a messenger of God, this is what He says.” Now if we are just trying to authoritatively speak our opinion then we have nowhere to hide, but if speaking God’s Word we have Him as our shield. We are speaking for Him.
I used to, and sometimes still do, get nervous preaching. And you know what has always calmed me? I feel a calmness coming over me when I start reading our passage for the day, or when someone else reads it for us. It is a reminder to me at the beginning of the message that no matter how difficult the message may be, or even if it is offensive to some, it is God’s Word and not mine. My words are weak and can be wrong. God’s words are strong and are never wrong.
He is to command God’s words and teach them. Teaching is simply passing on truth. Teaching is conveying truth to others. This is what Timothy was to do and this is what we can do as well. Every one of us should be, each week, passing on truth to others. We all have opportunities to do this wherever God puts us, whomever God puts around us.
But you know we all can come up with some pretty good excuses for not doing so, for not passing on truth to others. We may think that we don’t know enough about God’s Word to share it with others, or we aren’t around the right type of people who will want to hear it, or we are too busy to take the time to share it, or even that we are embarrassed to spread God’s Word. We may even say, “Well, you know, I am an introvert, so it’s not really my thing to talk much and definitely not to talk about matters such as Scripture.” We may even think, “Well I am a sinner, and everyone knows I’m a sinner, so I really can’t share God’s truth.” We can all come up with reasons why we may not be actively taking God’s Word and making it known to other people. Even though we have the words of life, we have the message of salvation, of forgiveness, of eternal life, we may still fail to share it with others.
Well apparently Timothy struggled here too, believe it or not. He may have struggled because of his age. Paul says, “Let no one despise you for your youth.” If Timothy had a handicap it was his youth, his age. Paul says, “Don’t let this keep you from being a good minister of the gospel.” God did not just call old men to share the truth, he has assigned that task to all of His followers, young and old.
You see, in Timothy’s culture the older men had credibility and were looked up to. For a man to be young meant that he was not automatically respected. You may wonder, “Well, how old was Timothy at this time?” Well, it’s not like he was a kid or extremely young, he would have probably been in his late 30’s. But in the first century generally anyone under 40 would be considered young. And so Timothy would not automatically have the respect of the people at his age, so he must earn that respect another way. And the way he was to do that was by being a good example by the way he lived. He is to command and teach the truth, but he is also to live a godly example in front of the people.
Now this is where need to take note and to realize that we too can do this. We can, and we are called to, live our lives in this way. In Ephesians 4:1 Paul says it like this: “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” Yes, we are to speak truth, but we are also to live it. There are five ways in which Paul says Timothy should live in order to set a good example.
First, he is to set an example with his speech.
34 For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. 36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:34-37)
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29)
A person’s speech is a reflection of what is in his heart. We are a people of words. We use a lot of words in any given day, some of us more than others for sure, but we all speak. We must be careful in our speech!
2 For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. 3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. 4 Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.
How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. (James 3:2-10)
We are so prone to be careless with our speech. And yet we are accountable for every word that comes from our mouths. Do our words reflect well our love for Christ Jesus in that they are consistent with how He says we should speak? I can’t help but think of Philippians 4:8 where Paul says what we should think on.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)
If we are thinking on these things, thinking in these ways always, how will our speech reflect that? If our minds are fixed on Jesus and His glory and His goodness and His provisions for us, then how will our speech be different? If we are in awe of Christ, won’t our words prove that? I think in Philippians 4:8 each of those things are most easily found in the person of Christ, the admonishment is to think on Christ. He is honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise, right? Think on Him and let our words reflect Him.
Next Paul says to set an example in conduct. Not just speech but in conduct. He was to live out his biblical convictions. We too should live out our biblical convictions. Our words are certainly important, but many times the focus is not so much on a person’s words but on their lives. Are they living, do we live in such a way that proves we really believe what we say? Or do our actions betray our words?
Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. (1 Peter 2:12)
Our words matter and so does our conduct.
Next Paul says to set an example in love. Biblical love is a sacrificial, giving love. It is the way that God has chosen to love us. In John 3:16 we read, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” God loved so God gave.
In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul introduces several aspects of love, but before he does he tells of the radical nature of love with these words…
1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)
Then after going through the many aspects of love he ends with another statement of its importance and priority in verse 13: “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
There is no Christianity, there is no legitimate Christian life without love. And the people to whom Timothy ministered needed to not just know this, but they needed to see an example of this kind of love. Timothy’s ministry would be multiplied as his life of love was visibly recognized. He would show them Christ through his life of love. Do our lives reflect the love of Christ?
Next Timothy was to be an example of faith. Here faith means faithfulness or trustworthiness. He is to be consistent and faithful as a Christian man. He is not to be like what James describes, a man who “is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”
A faithful person is one who relies on Jesus, who acts as he does because he believes Jesus. There is a certain stability to his walk because Jesus is his foundation, his foothold. He can remain faithful under severe trial. People need to see that, it is helpful to see such faithfulness under trial, it is encouraging to those who are facing trials or who will soon be facing difficulties. Timothy is called to be such a person.
Lastly, Timothy is to be an example of purity. Purity here is primarily a reference to sexual purity in actions, but certainly also in the heart and mind as well. This is why Paul encourages Timothy also in 2 Timothy 2:22 to flee from youthful lusts. Timothy’s society was anything but one of sexual purity. We think things are out of control now regarding sexual purity, and they are, but they were in Timothy’s day as well. That being the case, it was unusual to see someone committed to this kind of purity, but it glorified the Lord and the Lord commands it for His followers.
Here is what we need to see today. God’s Word is important and it is to be understood in its commands and it is to be taught. We can all spread God’s Word no matter our place in life. Whether we are young or old, male or female, a good orator or not, an introvert or an extrovert. God gives each of us opportunity to share His truths with others. And as we do this, we can live lives, by the power of God’s Spirit, in such a way that the message spoken will be confirmed. A changed life is a powerful testimony which supplements words of truth. This is what Paul wanted for Timothy and this is what God wants for us as well. We are here to make Jesus known, with our words and with our deeds.
11 Command and teach these things. 12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. (1 Timothy 4:11-12)