Our focus in Family Worship a couple of weeks ago was on how young people can set an example for Christ. The day we read 1 Timothy 4:12, I knew that I needed to write out a devotional for my teens based on this verse. I have two boys ages 14 and 13 and this one requires more study than a mere glance.
This devotional focuses mostly on the ways teens can set an example for others. It is scripturally based and meant for a deeper study of the verse. Also, it would be great for them to do in a group or discuss it with a parent afterwards.
1 Timothy 4:12 Devotional
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 4:12 (ESV)
Paul wrote 1 Timothy as a letter to his young “son” in the ministry while in prison. Timothy was a pastor in Ephesus. Written in the later years of Paul’s ministry, this letter along with his second to Timothy and one written to Titus, show his heart as a mentor and shepherd to his young students.
While is is believed that Timothy was around 30 years of age by this time, Greek culture would have considered him a youth and surely an older Paul would have as well. Timothy is a leader and minister so this verse was not written to youth in general. However, as a Christian youth, you have the opportunity to be a leader for Jesus wherever you are placed. And, the counsel in this verse is a pattern for any Christian to follow.
Don’t Let Anyone Look Down On Your Youth
Paul’s advice to Timothy is do not give others pause to think that you being young is a reason to believe you are anything but trustworthy, godly, and responsible. Basically, represent yourself so well that they don’t even have time to think about your age but respect your maturity in the Lord.
And, because Paul is such an amazing mentor, he goes on to explain to his son in the rest of the verse exactly how he could behave and live among others. This is the part of the 1 Timothy 4:12 devotional that speaks to teens on how their setting an example in word and deed to others around them can point others back to Christ.
Set An Example
Paul doesn’t just tell Timothy to set an example but he goes on the list all of the ways that he should set an example. We are going to look at these individually and chat about how you can set an example in these ways as well as other scriptures that help us understand how to live them out in a Christ-like manner.
Some translations say “in word” but the meaning is the same, the words we use, the way we talk, and what we talk about are all important to God. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (NIV)
What sets us a part from the world as believers in speech?
- We don’t use filthy language. (See Colossians 3:8)
- We don’t take the Lord’s name in vain. (See Exodus 20:7)
- We don’t gossip or slander others. (See Proverbs 10:18-21)
- We don’t say hurtful or rude things to others. (See James 3:9-12)
- We do use our words to encourage. (See 1 Thessalonians 5:11)
- We do use our words to praise God. (See Hebrews 13:15)
Try this object lesson, Drops of Influence, to see how our words can affect those around us.
Conduct is behavior. What are you know for among others? Are you helpful, kind, gentle, respectful, and caring? Or, do others see you as rude, selfish, prideful, or disrespectful? Beyond this, do you laugh at crude jokes or stay silent when others are mistreated? Could others look at you and see that you are pursuing godliness?
Conduct also includes in integrity. Would you act the same even if no one was around? Also, we should be reminded that God not only sees all but He can also read the intents and motives behind our actions. Paul tells Timothy is his second letter, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 NIV) If our behavior is following the word of truth, we have no need to be ashamed and we can be approved by God.
The love described here is agape love. It is used 115 times in the New Testament and describes a love that is unconditional, sacrificial and humble. It is the love that only a God who is love can give. In other words, we cannot grow or conjure up this love on our own but it must come from God. We must allow Him to mature it in us as we know Him more. Timothy was to be an example in regard to his love of God (John 14:15 states love is shown with obedience) and his love for other people.
Unconditional means that it is not based on feelings or emotions. It is a love that is a daily choice that you will love regardless of it is returned or acknowledged. Sacrificial is a giving love. The best example is God giving his one and only son, Jesus, to save us from our sins. We are not too good to serve or be generous to anyone. And, finally humility is key to love because it considers others better than ourselves. We don’t seek our own self desires but look our for the needs of others.
Faith is putting our trust and confidence in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (NIV) We are committed to serve God and follow His commands because we believe the scriptures to be true. We cannot see Him but we see evidence of His glory in creation and we know the proof of His work in our own lives and the lives of those around us.
We can also use our faith to mutually encourage others. Do you have a daily Bible reading plan? Are you a part of a Youth Group? A Bible study? A Discipleship Group? Do you have a prayer partner? Do you have some one you are trying to share Jesus with? All of these are helpful ways for us to grow in and live out our faith.
Purity just like other things begin in our hearts. We must have the passion to cleanse ourselves of any and all thoughts and desires that do not align themselves with the word of God. We love what God loves and hate what God hates. Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” (Matthew 5:8 NIV) Pure living flows out of a pure heart, and this is only possible with God’s help.
Thankfully, as Christians, we have the power of the Holy Spirit in us. So, we need to pray for His help with self-control. Do not allow anything impure to enter your eyes, ears, minds, or to use your body in an impure manner. The Bible says in James 4:7, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (NIV)
Practical Ways to Practice Purity:
- Know Your Sin Struggles– If something (or some one) causes you to sin, stay away from it or get rid of it. (Matthew 5:30 NIV)
- Seek accountability from some one you trust. (James 5:16)
- Filter all books, movies, music, etc. through the Word of God. Does God approve? Does it honor Him? If Jesus were sitting next to you, would you still listen or watch? ( Psalm 119:9)
- Pray for wisdom from the Holy Spirit. (John 14:26 NIV)
What the Bible Says About Youth
The Bible specifically talks to and about youth in several places. The verses below reinforce what we’ve learned in our 1 Timothy 4:12 devotional. God expects you to obey his word in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity. He puts people in our lives such as parents, ministers, and mentors to help guide us in these truths.
- Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment. Ecclesiastes 11:9 (ESV)
- How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. Psalm 119:9 (ESV)
- So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2:22 (ESV)
- Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck. Proverbs 1:8-9 (ESV)
- For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth. Psalm 71:5 (ESV)
Praying After 1 Timothy 4:12 Devotional
Here are some prayer points to focus on after this devotional:
- Lord, help me to set an example to my siblings, my peers, and even those older than me.
- God, I want to honor you with my speech. Give me power to control my tongue.
- Heavenly Father, help me to glorify you in my conduct whether others see me or not.
- Lord, grow my love for you and others.
- God, I want to have a bigger faith. Show me how to rely on you more.
- Heavenly Father, keep me pure in Your sight.