A Model of the Believers - Part 1

1 Timothy 4:12  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 7
The Apostle Paul has an exhortation for his dear son in the faith. But first he makes a plea to those of us who are older. Please don’t despise the youth. Give them room to learn, to mature and to grow. Allow them space to develop their gift.
They have a place in the body of Christ. They are a vital part of the assembly of God. Help them develop. Work with them. Encourage them.
Then he turns to Timothy, evidently a young man. His loving command speaks to the heart and conscience of every one of us, regardless of age or spiritual attainments. However, since he addresses his words to a young person, we do well to particularly heed them in our youth, for the habits formed thereby will help us honor the Lord through our lives till He comes.
Models of, Not to, the Believers
“Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers” (vs. 12).
Notice that the Apostle Paul does not say, “Be thou an example to the believers.” If you have a mango in your hand, it would be ridiculous to think of that mango trying to be an example to the mango tree trying to show the tree or other buds the proper characteristics of fruit to produce. It could never be an example to the tree. But it might well be an example of the fruit of the tree. If the mango is a good example of mango fruit, from that sample in your hand you can tell what color, size, shape, texture and flavor ought to be present in any other fruit from that tree.
And so it is with us as believers. If I set myself up to be an example to you, I take a position that is superior to you. I profess to have mastered whatever it is of which I wish to be an example. I make you focus on me, not on our Lord Jesus Christ, and every time I stumble or go astray, you are bound to do the same.
The Apostle says elsewhere, “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children” (Eph. 5:11Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; (Ephesians 5:1)). He also says to the Corinthians, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:11Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1)). We are safe in following another believer only in the measure in which they are directly following Christ.
Our focus and reference point ought always to be Christ. Then we will be able to be a proper example (or model) of the believers. The Apostle gives Timothy six aspects in which this example should be visible to others. “Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (vs. 12). Let’s look at some of the young people in the Scriptures who were living models of these characteristics.
Word Models
“Be thou an example [or model] of the believers, in word” (vs. 12).
Our first example is our Lord Jesus and some words about Him when He was thirty years old. That may seem to be outside the range of ages that we normally associate with young people. However, let us remember that the Lord Jesus is the one person who was perfectly and entirely consistent throughout His whole life. These words could have just as easily been written about Him when He was thirteen or nineteen.
“All bore witness to Him, and wondered at the words of grace which were coming out of His mouth” (Luke 4:2222And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph's son? (Luke 4:22) JND).
What kind of words come out of my mouth? words of grace? words of kindness? words of compassion? words of sympathy? Or are they sometimes words of jealousy? words of bitterness? words of pride?
With the Lord Jesus, His words were always a model. They communicated the grace, compassion, sympathy and tenderness of the heart of God. Even when He spoke faithful words of rebuke to stir the consciences of His hearers, they were perfectly mixed with the love of God so that there never was any suggestion of guile in His words.
When they asked Him, “Who art Thou?” He responded, “Altogether that which I also say to you” (John 8:2525Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning. (John 8:25) JND). He was absolutely transparent. His words (and His actions) were in perfect harmony with and were a perfect expression of who He was inwardly.
Sadly, this is not always true with me. But, as a believer in the Lord Jesus, I am responsible to be a model with my words a model that faithfully exemplifies the kind of words that came from the lips of my Lord.
D. R. Macy