Thursday, May 28, 2009

Three Nuggets from I Timothy 4, part three

First things first - read I Timothy chapter 4 (click here) and if you haven't done so, read my previous two posts (part 1 and II).  The third nugget is a very familiar passage found in I Timothy 4; however, in my experience, the emphasis of this passage is often mis-directed.  I'm speaking, of course, of verses 11-14 - the "don't let anyone put you down because of your youth..." passage.

Often this verse is used to encourage young people to assert themselves and to not be discouraged or de-railed by critics...and to be sure, this is true.  However, if we stop there, we've missed the point of these verses.  And what is the point, you ask?  The point is to "set an example" by the way you live your life.  Or, as Eugene put it in the Message translation, to "teach believers" with your life; by words, demeanor, love, faith [or faithfulness], and integrity...

Let's make this personal; it would be easy for me, a young leader and a young pastor to "flaunt" this verse in people's faces when I get criticized or feel marginalized; and yet, that is not the point.  I am instead to use my life as a way to "teach" or "model" to believers the way of discipleship.  A devoted life to Christ speaks louder than any words that could ever be uttered.  In other words, when people look at me, a young leader, do they see Christ?  This is the challenge.

Paul's ends this section with these words, which is how I'll end this post;
"Stay at your post reading Scripture, giving counsel, teaching..." - remembering the words of St. Francis - "preach the gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words."

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