Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 40:7-42:22 / 1 Timothy 4:1-16 / Proverbs 25:11-20
Alexander the Great was one of the most successful military commanders in history. He conquered the known world at that time. By the time he was 16, Alexander the Great established his first colony and named it after himself. For Joan of Arc, it wasn’t easy being a female in the 1400’s but she became a national heroine in France. She was just a pheasant girl but led the French army to many important victories after receiving visions from God. Joan of Arc accomplished all of this before the age of 20…the age she was executed for heresy.
David was considered too young to be a warrior or soldier yet God used him mightily to defeat the 9½-foot Goliath. He was the only one who stepped forward in battle while the experienced soldiers trembled. Paul tells young Timothy, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12)
Timothy had been given a very difficult task, after traveling with Paul for 15 years. It is believed that he was in his mid 30’s when Paul wrote him this letter. That may seem on the “older” or “really old” side of youth but Timothy was still considered “young”. Culture at this time did not consider a person “old” or “over the hill” unto they at least got to 40.
There is a tendency to minimize and overlook the importance of young people. After all, the description of “young” refers to a person who is inexperienced and immature. Paul calls Timothy to display such a high level of maturity and character, that his life would leave a great positive impression on others. Not only was Timothy to be an example in what he said but also in what he did. People were watching him and examining his life.
Paul instructed Timothy to be loving and not arrogant, rude, critical, cruel or sharp. This was to be accomplished through word, action and attitude. He was also to be faithful…to God and man. Qualities of dependability, sincerity, reliability and diligence were not to be infrequent but constant.
Timothy’s life was to be marked by high standards of purity. Ephesus was a cesspool of sexual immorality. Many young people struggle with unbridled and undisciplined lust. Uncontrolled and immature passions would be the ruin of Timothy. His key for victory would be to bring those passions and place them under the Lordship of Christ.
The standards Paul sets for “youth” are only attainable by surrendering completely and depending wholly upon a greater power than they naturally possess. Understanding our need for Him is the beginning of wisdom and maturity. Paul’s words are not only standards for the young…they are reminders for the “old” too!