What Does 1 Timothy 4:12 Mean?

Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.

1 Timothy 4:12(NASB)
Picture courtesy of John Heseltine & Pam Masco

Verse Thoughts

Timothy was a young man who came to faith through the ministry of Paul. He often referred to him as his “son in the Lord”, and Timothy seemed to be an inoffensive young person, who was gentle and peaceable.. and there is even some suggestion that he may have had some bodily weakness or physical ailment.

However, young Timothy was obviously robust in the faith and of such a spiritual stature, that he not only accompanied Paul on his missionary journeys, and acted as Paul’s scribe for some of his church epistles, but represented him in the city of Corinth, and was sufficiently doctrinally sound to be entrusted as a competent evangelist. Paul relied on him to present the good news of the gospel of grace to certain church fellowships, in spirit and in truth, and his letters to Timothy confirms this fact.

Paul’s letters to Timothy, together with his epistle to Titus, were different from his letters of instruction and encouragement to the congregations of the various Christian churches. Not only were his communications to them among the last things that Paul wrote, before his death in Rome, but they contained important instruction for the pastoral ministries, in which Timothy and Titus were engaged.

Paul’s heart burden was to ensure that good men were correctly taught, sound in doctrine and well prepared to carry forward the pure truth of the gospel of grace, after his death. His pastoral letters often contained very personal information and instruction for these young ministers, together with some intimate, fatherly counsel, for each man’s distinctive needs.

Here we read a highly personal directive to Timothy. Let no one look down on your youthfulness, was Paul’s emphatic instruction to his young protégé, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.

Although we are unable to control the attitude of others towards ourselves, Paul helped to equip Timothy to deal with this situation, in a most biblical manner. None of us can prevent another person from despising us or expressing contempt towards us, but we are to be responsible for the way that we react to any negative attitude, others may show towards us – and Paul’s advice to Timothy was.. don’t let anyone despise you – but if they do, make sure that in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, you show yourself to be an example of a godly believer.

In every area of life we are to demonstrate the same, spiritual maturity in the way we live, the words we speak, the things we do and the way we react to others, in these difficult and challenging times. Our behaviour, attitude, actions and motives should be pure and holy.. and should demonstrate the godly wisdom that only comes from above.

May we seek to display the same godly characteristics of Timothy and like him, have a teachable spirit, that seeks to honour the Lord in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, and may we show ourselves to be a godly example of those who believe.

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You for the wisdom and instruction that we gain from the pastoral epistles to Timothy and Titus. May we look to Jesus, day by day, and stand firm in the faith.. holding fast to the truth of the glorious gospel of grace. Help me not to be offended by the actions or attitude of others towards me, but rather, may my speech and conduct be honouring to You, and may I serve You in faith and purity, to my life's end. Help me to be a godly example to those with whom I have to do, for Your holy names sake, and greater glory. This I ask in Jesus name, AMEN.

Picture courtesy of John Heseltine & Pam Masco

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