(I. Timothy 4:12), “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”
The communist government in China several years ago commissioned an author to write a biography of Hudson Taylor with the purpose of distorting the facts and presenting him in a bad light. They wanted to discredit the name of this consecrated missionary of the gospel. As the author was doing his research, he was increasingly impressed by Taylor's saintly character and godly life, and he found it extremely difficult to carry out his assigned task with a clear conscience. Eventually, at the risk of losing his own life, he laid aside his pen, renounced his atheism, and received Jesus as his personal Savior. From Hudson Taylor’s life we learn the importance of being a good example as Christians to other believers because our example always leaves an impression on others. In studying the letters of the apostle Paul, one of the things that surfaces time and time again is that Paul was a great advocate of being an example to other believers.
(I. Corinthians 4:16), “Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.”
(I. Corinthians 11:1), “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.”
(Philippians 3:17), “Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.”
(Philippians 4:9a), “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do…”
(II. Thessalonians 3:7a), “For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you…”
(II. Thessalonians 3:9b), “…ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.”
Paul was not on an ego trip when he wrote these verses, but these verses emerged from the character of a godly man who knew his spiritual responsibility to be an example to other believers. In (I. Timothy 4:12), Paul tells us that we have a spiritual responsibility today to be an example to other believers. The word "example" comes from the Greek word that means “to be a pattern, for others to follow.” Paul gives us six areas that we are to be an example to other believers in.
- Believers are to be examples in their Conversation (word)
Paul begins by telling believers to be an example with their words, which refers to the use of their speech and talk. The reason he begins with words is because whatever comes out of the mouth reveals what is down in the heart. (Matthew 12:34b-35), “…for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.” To be an example in your words as a believer, you are always to tell the truth and never lie; never use profanity or language that disgraces God; and always use words to build up others.
- Believers are to be examples in their Conduct (conversation)
The word “conversation” refers to the “general conduct and behavior” of believers. For you to be an
example to believers in conduct means to live a life of submission, self-denial, sanctification, and service to the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Believers are to be examples in their Charity (charity)
The word “charity” is another word for “love” and both of these words, come from the Greek word “agape” which describes the love that is of and from God, whose very nature is love. (I. John 4:8), “…God is love…” For you to be an example to believers in charity means to choose to love others unconditionally not based on feelings, or the fleeting emotions of passions, but out of a fixed love of the will.
- Believers are to be examples in Character (spirit)
The meaning of the word “spirit” refers to “one’s inner attitudes and disposition they have toward the things of God.” A person’s spirit (attitude) has to do with their mindset and the way they think. (Proverbs 23:7a), “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…” A person’s spirit, their inner attitudes is what determines their character they show to the world. It has well been said, “your spirit is the real you that shown to the world by the way you live because what you are in your spirit is going to be what you are in your life.” For your to be an example to believers in your character means that you must develop godly character by learning to think upon the things of God for, (Luke 6:45), “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.”
- Believers are to be examples in Consistency (faith)
The words “faith” and “faithfulness” in the Bible both come from the same Greek word that means, “belief, confidence, persuasion, assurance, trustworthiness, loyalty, unswerving commitment, and consistency.” The words “faith” and “faithfulness” in the Bible are like “Siamese twins”, they go together and if you kill one you kill the other. A person who truly has faith in the teachings of the Word of God, their faith will be manifested in their faithfulness. They will be unswerving, consistent, always committed, and will never deviate from their service to God. For you to be an example of believers in consistency means, be faithful in serving God without swerving, without deviating, always committed, always reliable, always consistent through both the good times and the bad times.
- Believers are to be examples in Consecration (purity)
The word “consecration” in the Bible means “spiritual cleanliness, chastity, living a life that is clean from the filthiness of this world, morally blameless life, purity of mind and thought.” All these meanings of the word “consecration” convey the idea of what believers are to be in being an example to others. Therefore, for you to be an example of believers in consecration means to live a life of spiritual cleanliness, chastity, living a life that is clean from the filthiness of this world, living a morally blameless life, and being pure in mind and thought. Do you realize that you have a spiritual responsibility as a believer to be an example to other believers? Are you fulfilling your responsibility?
Pastor Allen Jackson