I dug the spiral-bound book out of my backpack. Although the church kid’s AWANA program had finished up along with the school year, I wanted to get back to my Bible verse memorization. No, I’m no longer a student in the program, but I do help as a leader, filling in where I’m needed.
The book fell open to section 4.2. The verse to memorize was 1 Timothy 4:12, “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” (KJV). Committing it to memory was pretty easy, but living up to it, another story. A mere twenty-six words. Words put together in the form of a sentence. Words that challenged me to live out what I profess to believe.
What does it look like to be an example of a believer, one who has trusted Christ as personal Savior? The apostle Paul gives us a pretty clear picture. As a believer, my words, behavior, love, feelings/emotions, faith, and purity should be modeled after what is found in God’s word. At first glance, I saw just six categories. What I saw after serious contemplation, was much different. Six areas that need to be surrendered to the Lord and bathed in constant prayer.
Words. Something to be used with extreme caution. Once uttered, they cannot be recalled. Wisdom and restraint are key. “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29). According to another of Paul’s prison epistles, our speech is to be, “…always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Colossians 4:6). When it comes to correction, I’m to speak “the truth in love…” and not with a critical spirit (Ephesians 4:15). Wow, lots of work to be done here!
Conversation. More widely defined as my behavior, or the way I live. Does the way I live point to a loving, Heavenly Father? My earnest desire, is for the answer to that question to be a resounding, ‘YES!’ I’m relieved that I don’t have to do it on my own. In whatever circumstance He calls me to, God offers to equip me with exactly what I need. Paul once again gives us the perfect example in the book of Philippians, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:11-13).
Charity. Better known in today’s language, as love. Does the love I have for the Lord Jesus Christ show itself in my love for others? Do I care enough about others that I desire to share Jesus Christ with them? As a believer, I’ve been guilty of surrounding myself exclusively with other Christians and virtually forgetting the Great Commission: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).
Words, conversation and charity. Three areas of my life that should point others to Jesus Christ. As I surrender my will to God, and focus on loving Him with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength, I become a vessel that He can use to point others to Him. Through His power, I become an example of the believer!
How about you? Are you an accurate example of the ‘believer’? Join me Thursday when we’ll take a look at three more areas that characterize the Christian!