Sunday, April 19, 2015

1 Timothy 4:12 -- On Lists, Examples, and Saving Everyone

"Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity."
1 Timothy 4:12

There are a lot of good things in this chapter, but today I was really drawn to this list.  We're of course commanded to be perfect (Matthew 5:48), but having some lists always helps us know some specific things to work on within that idea of striving for perfection. :)  In this one, Paul not only defends the testimony of youth, which I think is important, but he points out some specific areas where we can be better examples.
We can work on making our words better examples.  I think this probably applies not only to avoiding obscenities, but also to our tone.  We could be less critical, and more positive and hopeful in what we say.  As we discussed previously in Philippians 1:9-10, we could also approve things that are excellent.
We can be better examples in conversation.  I think that part of that is just *having* conversations.  We can reach out to other people more, approaching them and not waiting for them to approach us.  We can also be sincere, truthful, and kind in our conversation.  We can work on giving everyone our attention in the moment, and not taking time away from our conversation to worry about other things or plan what to say next rather than listening.  This is not at all to say that we can't enjoy witty banter.  Just that we have to respect, as with everything else, God's boundaries.  Having fun with others should never turn into having fun at the expense of others.
We can be better examples in charity... in both senses. :)  In the sense that charity is the pure love of Christ, we can work on really caring about the people around us... and actually the people that aren't around us. :)  We can take a step back and work on getting a better perspective, seeing the good in people and not pre-judging them.  We can also work on being more generous with others, and helping people without bitterness or grudging.  Let's work on seeing all people as valuable, and doing what we can to lift each other up.
We can be better examples of the spirit.  We can work harder to feel God's presence in our lives, and when Heavenly Father prompts us to do or say something, we can work on recognizing those things, and doing them as well and as quickly as we can.  We can also avoid situations and actions that will drive God's spirit away.  We can work on the way we come across to others by being calm, peaceful, kind, and joyful.  I'm definitely not saying be fake... but the more often we can feel the joy that God is broadcasting to us, the more we really will feel that way, and the more it will come across to others.
We can be better examples of faith.  We can really trust God and stop worrying so much.  This is not to say we shouldn't be prepared for change or disaster, because as much as we can be, we should be.  But if we really trust God, we can probably turn the anxiety down several notches and enjoy our lives more.  God will help us face, and learn from, whatever comes, and lead us to whatever we truly need.  Worrying about things, even when we are in the middle of them, isn't going to do anything but stress us out.  What will help is prayer, and diving in and solving what we can, a little at a time.
Finally, we can be better examples of purity.  The world doesn't seem to admire purity very much.  It is often seen as naive or childish.  And, you know... that's okay.  In Matthew 18:3, Christ explains that reaching heaven requires us to become like little children.  I think part of that is assuredly purity.  We tend to grow up and become more corrupt.  We learn to be insincere.  We learn to bend the rules or go along with the crowd or whatever.  But God asks us to stand up for what we believe and for his laws.  We don't have to become popular by drinking or smoking or having sex outside the bonds of marriage.  We can be pure, and still have friends.  We can be pure, and still be successful.  Sometimes they are different friends, and sometimes it is successful in a different way... but if those are the changes required to stay on God's path, there is no doubt that they lead to a better place.
In verse 16 later in this chapter it says "in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee."  Let's work on that today.

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