THE IMPORTANCE OF EXAMPLE
“Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the
believers, in word, in conversation, in charity [love], in spirit,
in faith, in purity.”— 1 Timothy 4:12.
WE REMEMBER that Timothy was an Elder in the Church, though young in years. Therefore, it was appropriate that St. Paul should impress upon his mind that He should be an example of the believers, an example to all the Church; and such instruction is implied in other parts of the Epistle. But note that the Apostle, in our text, does not say: Be thou an example to the believers, but, “Be thou an example of the believers.” How different!
Being an example of believers means that one should show forth not only to his fellow-workers in the Gospel, but especially to the world, what believers stand for—what they believe, what they teach, how they live. We should see to it that we are setting such an example in word, as the Apostle enjoins, in the character of our language when declaring the Message of Truth. We are not to be merely smooth-tongued and flattering; we are not merely to use kind words; but the kindness and interest manifested should be genuine—from the heart. All of the Lord’s people are thus to be examples, striving to show forth the praises of our Master.
St. Paul further urges: “Be thou an example in conversation.” This word conversation does not refer merely to language, as it is now used: the original meaning of this word is conduct. Our conduct relates to our manner, to the way we walk, to the way we act, to our general deportment, and not to our words alone. We are to be an example in our gentleness of demeanor. We should not slam doors, nor be boisterous, nor uncouth, nor thoughtless of others. In every way we are to be gentle and kind and considerate, and not rude.
Those who are begotten to the new nature should strive to be examples to everybody of what Christians ought to be. The kind of work we are engaged in should be honest. It may be secular work, yet it should be done as unto the Lord, carefully, faithfully, not merely as men-pleasers, but in singleness of heart, as servants of God; “for we serve the Lord Christ.” The walk of the Christian should be in charity—love—in sympathy, in benevolence, in kindness of word and conduct. A generally sympathetic spirit should pervade his words and deeds, his entire behavior. The Heavenly Father loved mankind; while they were yet sinners He so loved the race that He gave the choicest Treasure of His heart for man’s recovery. And He still loves the world, and is fitting the Church to be the blessers of the world in the future. So any begotten of the Lord’s Spirit should have a transforming influence at work in his life—an influence that will manifest itself even to those who are out of the way, those who have not yet been blessed with the Light of God.
Our text also reads: “Be thou an example in spirit.” This phrase, “in spirit,” is not found in the original, but the thought seems proper enough: we are to show kindness of spirit, of disposition, to all. The spirit that animates us at all times should be the spirit, the mind of the Lord.
We are exhorted to be examples “in faith.” The Apostle’s exhortation applies to us all. The Christian’s faith is also manifested to others in his conduct, his words, his course in life. If he is full of faith, he will not be murmuring against the experiences of life as they come, against the providences of the Lord. The Almighty has accepted us as His children; we should have continual and implicit confidence in Him, and whoever has true faith has this confidence. If any of us lack faith in God we shall not manifest faith to others, nor inspire faith in them.
We are to be examples “in purity.” There is a purity that goes with all that pertains to God and to His Word—a loftiness of standard, which is not to be found elsewhere. There are people in heathen lands who live more or less chaste lives, but there is nowhere so high a standard as in the Christian religion. Everything impure is contrary to God. Purity is one of the component elements of Christian character. As the Apostle said on another occasion, we are to be “first pure, then peaceable, gentle.”
LIVING EPISTLES, KNOWN AND READ
In all these ways each of God’s people should be living lessons, living epistles, wherever they go; they should be examples to the world. Whether the world believe what we preach or not, we should manifest these qualities which they cannot but approve and respect. This example will bear fruitage in due time, if not now. Every Elder, like Timothy, should be especially careful of his conduct, his words, his example. The Church has declared by choosing such a one Elder that they believe him to be an example of the fruitage of the grace of God in the heart.
The Apostle’s counsel to Timothy: “Let no man despise thy youth,” should be looked upon as advice not only to Timothy, but to all Elders of the Church who are young in years, that they so conduct themselves as to beexamples of the Flock, that their deportment and ability to “rightly divide the Word of Truth” be such that none will have cause to slight the Message they bring, or to think of them as immature and unfit to lead the Flock of God.
Let every child of God, the younger as well as the older, strive to be an example worthy of imitation—an example of earnest, faithful endeavor to copy the Master in his daily life, a pattern of active zeal in the service of our God. We shall not be able while in the flesh to be examples in the full sense of the ultimate glory and beauty of holiness which will be ours beyond the veil: we cannot expect this in the present life. Our Lord alone was such a Pattern.
The Apostle Paul urged, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1) St. Paul was a noble example of earnest endeavor to attain the perfect likeness of Christ, and his love, his zeal, his intense earnestness in striving to copy the Master and to accomplish His will should be an inspiration to us all. Let each of the Lord’s children, individually, realize his or her personal responsibility. We are as “a city set upon a hill.” Let each ask himself the question: Am I “an example of the believers”?
Some Precious Gems
“…I sought him, but I found him not.” — Song of Solomon 3:1
Tell me where you lost the company of a Christ, and I will tell you the most likely place to find him. Have you lost Christ in the closet by restraining prayer? Then it is there you must seek and find him. Did you lose Christ by sin? You will find Christ in no other way but by the giving up of the sin, and seeking by the holy Spirit to mortify the member in which the lust doth dwell. Did you lose Christ by neglecting the Scriptures? You must find Christ in the Scriptures. It is a true proverb, “Look for a thing where you dropped it, it is there.” So look for Christ where you lost him, for he has not gone away. But it is hard work to go back for Christ. Bunyan tells us, the pilgrim found the piece of the road back to the Arbour of Ease, where he lost his roll, the hardest he had ever travelled. Twenty miles onward is easier than to go one mile back for the lost evidence.
Take care, then, when you find your Master, to cling close to him. But how is it you have lost him? One would have thought you would never have parted with such a precious friend, whose presence is so sweet, whose words are so comforting, and whose company is so dear to you! How is it that you did not watch him every moment for fear of losing sight of him? Yet, since you have let him go, what a mercy that you are seeking him, even though you mournfully groan, “O that I knew where I might find him!” Go on seeking, for it is dangerous to be without thy Lord. Without Christ you are like a sheep without its shepherd; like a tree without water at its roots; like a sere leaf in the tempest-not bound to the tree of life. With thine whole heart seek him, and he will be found of thee: only give thyself thoroughly up to the search, and verily, thou shalt yet discover him to thy joy and gladness.—CS
“And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you the LORD, to serve him. And they said, We are witnesses. Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the LORD God of Israel. And the people said unto Joshua, The LORD our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey.” —Joshua 24:22-24 KJV
Here was a definite decision. Our peril is that we spend our life in wavering and we never decide. We are like a jury which is always hearing evidence and never gives a verdict. We do much thinking, but we never make up our minds. We let our eyes wander over many things, but we make no choice. Life has no crisis, no culmination.
Now people who never decide spend their days in hoping to do so. But this kind of life becomes a vagrancy and not a noble and illumined crusade. We drift through our days, we do not steer, and we never arrive at any rich and stately haven.
It is therefore vitally wise to “make a vow unto the Lord.” It is good to pull our loose thinkings together and to “gird up the loins of the mind.” Let a man, at some definite place, and at some definite moment, make the supreme choice of his life.
“Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.”—Matthew 6:34
When you worry about tomorrow’s problems, you miss the blessings of today and you cannot solve tomorrow’s problems with today’s power. When tomorrow arrives, God will give you the power, perspective, grace, and wisdom you need. The Bible does not say, “Give us this day our monthly bread. ”It says, “Give us this day our daily bread,” (Matthew 6:11) God wants us to depend on Him one day at a time…..God equips you with everything you need to face it day. The Bible gives you the daily bread you need to be sustained throughout the day……when the Israelites collected extra manna to store up food for tomorrow, God spoiled it because of the Israelites’ lack of trust in His daily provision and His promises that He will graciously care for “all these things”(Exo 16:20)…Anxiety over tomorrow’s concerns will rob you of the strength for today. Getting stuck in worry will steal your joy and render you ineffective for the work God wants to do through your life.—T.O.I.