Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Be the Example

     I'm really sorry I haven't written anything for a while.  I thought summer would give me a lot of extra time, but (as often happens) that wasn't the case!

     As one of the many things I've done these past few weeks, I gave the sermon at my church last Sunday.  It was definitely a great experience, and one I hope to have again in the future.  Until then, however, I thought it would be good to share a little bit of what I spoke about last week.

     The main verse of the sermon was 1 Timothy 4:12 (the verse pictured above).  In our youth-centered society, the church loves this verse.  "Let no one despise your youth"... We teens certainly enjoy the supposed freedom from this verse regarding age discrimination.

     There's a problem, though.  This isn't the end of the verse!  If we truly want to claim these words, "Let no on despise your youth," we need to look at what is required in the proceeding text, "but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity" (emphasis added).

     Often times we want to just take the first part of the verse and leave off the second.  But how can we expect not to be "looked down on" when we're not being "the example to the believers"?  This verse isn't just  a feel-good message, it's an expectation for our behavior as young Christians.

     To illustrate my point, I took the congregation to the story of David and Goliath in 1 Samuel chapter 17.  In this story, Saul "looked down upon" David, so to speak.  In spite of this, however, David rose up and conquered the 10-foot Philistine (whose armor, by the way, weighed as much as I do) with a single stone when no one else would.

     This too is one of America's favorite passages regarding youth.  But if you read chapter 17 of 1 Samuel, you see that David did not just stride in to battle willy-nilly (Did I really just use that phrase?).  David had an example to match his boldness.

     David was obedient to his father without question (verses 17-20), he gave all glory to God (34-37), he walked in courage and not fear (45-47), and portrayed many other character traits throughout the chapter.

     You see, before we expect to seen as mature Christians, we need to exemplify the behavior of such.  And in order to find out how to be that example, we must look to the word of God and to the example of Jesus Christ.

     There are many who follow behind us.  They are looking for our example, to see what we will stand for and what we will stand against.  They are looking for us to be the example in word, conduct, love, spirit, faith, and purity.  What will they see?