Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12 (ESV)
Do you remember as a child or maybe even in your teenage years when you left the house to go somewhere your mom or dad would say, “Now you behave yourself.”? They expected you to “live up to your raising.” The way you behaved in public was a reflection on the family, especially your parents.
Well, Paul’s words to Timothy weren’t quite like that, but Paul did admonish his young protégé to be an example to the believers in his conduct. The Greek word used for conduct in 1 Timothy 4:12 means behavior. In other words, Paul said, “Behave yourself, Timothy, in such a way that other believers will see how believers are suppose to behave.” Well, how are believers supposed to behave?
The apostle Peter wrote, As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct. (1 Peter 1:14-15 ESV) Peter begins by telling us that we are not suppose to behave like we did before we were saved, rather we are to behave as the one who called us behaves. God his holy and we too are to live holy lives; pure and blameless.
Paul, in his epistles, concurs with Peter. He wrote that we are to behave in a manner worthy of our calling (Ephesians 4:1), worthy of the gospel of Christ (Philippians 1:27), worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing him (Colossians 1:10), and worthy of God who called us (1 Thessalonians 2:12).
Peter goes on to say, And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile. (1 Peter 1:17 ESV) Believers are to conduct themselves in fear (Gr. alarm or fright). Why in fear?
Maybe one reason is that, if we call God our Father, the way we behave reflects on him. Now, our bad behavior doesn’t change God’s holiness, but it may profane his name and he is not pleased to have his name profaned. In fact, he gave a commandment to that regard (Exodus 20:7). We take God’s name in vain when we profess to be his children yet behave in a manner unworthy of his name.
Secondly, though we call God our Father he remains an impartial judge. Every man will be judged according to his works (1 Corinthians 3:12-14). The thought of impending judgment should encourage us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. And so be an example of godliness not only to believers but unbelievers as well (1 Peter 2:12).
In his second letter to Timothy Paul wrote, Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. (2 Timothy 2:20-21 ESV)
How are you behaving? What kind of an example are you to other believers?
Scriptures for meditation: