Be Thou An Example

Orange sign that says Follow Me

A lot of us have a certain someone from our pasts that was a mentor/example.  For some it was a grandparent or parent.  For others it might have been a close friend that took someone under his wing.  Regardless, the impacts made in the lives of others are extraordinary.  For some of us, that example was found in the church.  How many young men became preachers, elders, or deacons because of the influence of godly men?  Likewise, how many young women have become teachers, wives of preachers, and godly mothers because of the influence of godly women?  Then there are the times that things are flipped.  Sometimes the mentor/example is a younger person that helps an older person to see that life can be lived differently.  Consider the life of Timothy.  By all indicators, Timothy was an exceptional young Christian when Paul wrote what we call First Timothy.  It was on this occasion that Paul took the opportunity to encourage his “…own son in the faith…” to be the one who was the good example (1 Tim. 1:2).

            Timothy had an upbringing that many would have loved to have.  Paul mentioned such when he wrote, “When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also” (2 Tim. 1:5).  No doubt, that Timothy was taught much about God and His Word.  By the time that the Gospel began to be preached, Timothy was ready to accept It and obey It.  He was the genuine article.  There was nothing pretend about Timothy’s faith.  With that being the case, Paul told Timothy, “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” (1 Tim. 4:12).  Paul knew that Timothy’s influence could be a difference maker in the lives of other Christians.  For some that might mean that they were getting guidance and encouragement from someone who was old enough to be their son or grandson.  That was not to deter Timothy.

            Today, we still need to find those good examples to imitate.  Paul told the brethren in Corinth, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor.  11:1).  So long as the example is following Jesus, we can follow the example.  Timothy was to live his life in such ways that his influence was far reaching.  Paul mentioned six different areas in which Timothy could be an example.  First of all, “in word”.  We must all be careful what we say.  Jesus explained, “…That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” (Matt. 12:36).  Also, Paul taught, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers” (Eph. 4:29).

            Next, Timothy was to be an example “in conversation”.  This has to do with one’s manner of life.  Paul explained just how a Christian’s “conversation” should be.  “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:22-24).  He also wrote, “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20).

            Then, Timothy was to demonstrate how to live a life of “charity.”  This type of love is not just a fleeting feeling toward another.  “Charity” demands a great amount of work and sacrifice.  For the sake of the length of this article, I strongly encourage the reader to examine First Corinthians chapter thirteen.  There, “charity” is personified.  It will help the reader understand just how great of a love that Timothy was supposed to demonstrate.

            The final three areas that Paul wanted Timothy to show greatness involved “in spirit” (attitude), “in faith” (commitment and trust), and “in purity” (holiness).  Without the proper “spirit”, we cannot worship God acceptably (John 4:24).  We must learn to be humble and contrite individuals, as was Timothy.  Likewise, without a life of “faith” we cannot please God (Heb. 11:6).  As Paul put it, “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7).  Our trust in God comes from ample evidence (Heb. 11:1).  Then finally, our lives should be lived “in purity”.  The only reason that we are able to be pure is because of Jesus and His blood.  We are washed clean by Christ’s blood when we are baptized into Christ for the remission of sins (Acts 22:16; 2:38; Gal. 3:27; Eph. 1:7).  After we are “cleansed”, we are to “be holy”.  Peter wrote, “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Pet. 1:15-16).  The more our lives are patterned after God, the more pure we will be.

            Examples/mentors can be extremely important in the lives of others.  We, like Timothy, should live our lives in such ways that others can be encouraged and motivated to be faithful to God.
~ Corey Barnette