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)
When Paul wrote to Timothy, “Let no one despise you for your youth” he was encouraging Timothy to act in a way becoming a minister of the gospel so that his ministry could not be held in contempt and his youthful ways despised. In much the same way the Holy Spirit might say for us to be an example of purity to other believers so that name of Christ and the message of the gospel may not be profaned by our actions.
In the scriptures we find at least three areas in which we should be examples to the believers in purity. One of those is in the way that we conduct ministry to others. Paul wrote to the Corinthians that he and those who ministered with him were not peddlers of God’s word but spoke with sincerity and refused to tamper with God’s word (2 Corinthians 2:17; 4:3). He also wrote,We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way . . . by purity. (2 Corinthians 6:3-7) Paul reminded the Thessalonian church that he and those with him provided for their needs by working so that they would not be a burden to them (1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:8). He exhorted the Ephesian elders in a similar way (Acts 20:33-34). Paul was not concerned with what he would gain from preaching the gospel. But, having purity in ministry is more than not being greedy for gain, it also includes the way we treat others. We should handle or minister to the flock of God with care (1 Peter 5:1-3).
Another example of purity that we should set for the believers is in the area of relationships. Paul wrote to Timothy, Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity. (1 Timothy 5:1-2 ESV) Peter wrote, Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart. (1 Peter 1:22 ESV)
James wrote, Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:27 ESV) If we desire for our Christianity to be pure and thus be an example to other believers we must “do unto others” (Matthew 7:12), and “do to the least of these” (Matthew 25:40).
Living a life of personal spiritual purity is yet another way we are to be examples to the believers. As James put it “keep oneself unstained from the world.” Paul wrote to Timothy, So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2:22 ESV) Peter exhorts us to be diligent to be found in Christ without spot or blemish (2 Peter 3:14). It further behooves those who desire to live pure godly lives to adhere to sound doctrine (Ephesians 4:14), to hide God’s word in their heart (Psalm 119:11) and be doers of the word and not just hearers (James 1:22).
Are you an example of purity to the believers in how you minister to others, in your relationships and living a holy life before God?
Scriptures for meditation:
1 Timothy 5:22