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David Wright, AiG–U.S., explores some of the characteristics that young people should display.
Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. (1 Timothy 4:12)
Today’s big question: how can I be an example as a young person?
While many people equate age with maturity, even young believers are called to be an example. Let’s take a look at each characteristic listed in our passage and see how they can be applied.
Be an example in word: Be careful what you say and how you say it. Speech is probably one of the most scrutinized aspects of our behavior. People often recognize attitudes and intentions by what we say. That’s why Jesus said, “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart” (Matthew 15:18). Don’t be a gossip! (Proverbs 20:19). Do not talk about other people or their situations behind their backs. Just because you might have information about someone doesn’t give you the right to share it. Do not slander! (See Colossians 3:8.) We are commanded to keep our words in check so build up people with your words (Ephesians 4:29).
Be an example in conduct: What you believe must be lived out. Actions do speak louder than words so practice what you preach (Matthew 5:37). Our conduct should not mirror unbelievers, and we must be gracious, patient, and wise when interacting with unbelievers (Colossians 4:5–6).
Be an example in love: Jesus said it best when He taught us to love even our enemies (Matthew 5:43–46), love God, and love our neighbors, regardless of who they are (Matthew 22:37–39). We show our love for God and others by keeping His commandments (John 14:15). As Christ loved us, we are to love others, doing all things in love (1 Corinthians 13).
Be an example in spirit: Just as Stephen, the first Christian martyr, we need to be full of the Spirit. Being filled with the Spirit means that word of Christ dwells richly in us and it gives us the ability to speak the Gospel boldly (Acts 4:31; Ephesians 5:19; cf. Colossians 3:16). When we are filled with the Spirit, others will see God’s work in our life (Galatians 5:22–23).
Be an example in faith: When you believe God and His promises, you will be prayerful, joyful, and thankful to God for all things (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18). We can demonstrate our faith to others not only through our commitment to Him but also by our actions (James 2:14–26).
Be an example in purity: Something that is pure is undefiled and innocent (Titus 1:15). So we must keep our thoughts pure (Philippians 4:8). We must avoid sexual immorality and youthful lusts (2 Timothy 2:22).
The passages above give us plenty to work with in becoming an example while we are young.
Today’s big idea: even the youth are called to be examples.
What to pray: ask for God’s strength and guidance in all these areas.