Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership.
1 Timothy 4:12-14
History and Context:
1 Timothy belongs to what scholars have labeled as the Pastoral Epistles (1 & 2 Timothy and Titus). They are named the Pastoral Epistles because they deal directly with issues of leadership in the church. Timothy was probably a convert from Paul's first missionary journey, when he travelled to Lystra. After that Timothy begun travelling with Paul and taking various assignments. In other letters we can see that it was often Timothy that would carry Paul's letters to the various churches. At the time in which Paul wrote 1 and 2 Timothy, Timothy was in Ephesus and had been sent there in order to lead the church and to train and build leaders for the church. 1 Timothy is written as general instructions towards the Timothy as a leader.
One common theme throughtout the Bible is that God does not look at physical age as a requirement for His work. David and Jeremiah were prime examples of this in the old testament, and Timothy is a great example in the new testament. Jesus even goes as far as to say that we need to learn from the little children. But here Paul is sharing with Timothy what is important in God's eyes. To God youth does not matter, it has no bearing on your ability to be used by God, but what does matter is maturity. Paul says here that the way you keep people from looking down on your youth (or enter anything else that people may look down on) is to be an example. Be an example in what you say, what you do, how you love, your spiritual life, your trust in God, and the purity of your heart. It doesn't matter how much people may want to look down on you, if you are an example in these things they won't be able to.
This is the theme verse for TnT Youth Ministries, but it actually applies to all of us no matter what our age. We all have some quality that has potential to cause people to look down on us. If you're not too young maybe you're too old, or maybe you don't have enough education, or experience. Maybe your parents or your kids messed up and people have put it on you. There are a multitude of things that it could be, but Paul gives us the solution here. The solution is not to preach at them or argue with them it is simply to improve your character and morality to the point that they can no longer help but to give you a chance. If you are one that finds yourself being looked down on, examine these six areas of your life and find out which ones you are lacking in. Then improve.
Lord, I want to be used by you. Help me Lord to see where my example has been lacking and to improve in that area. Help me to lead others through these six areas of my life. Thank you Lord! In Jesus' name, Amen!