“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12 (NIV)
The verse you just read was written by the older and wiser Apostle Paul to his young apprentice, Pastor Timothy. From this verse, we can assume, people in Timothy’s church were not showing him the proper respect and honor because of his young age. You know what that is like… People not taking you seriously or not hearing your opinions because you are only a youth. Frustrating isn’t it? It was obviously frustrating for Timothy as well, and Paul is encouraging Timothy, letting him know that physical age and holiness (spiritual maturity) are unrelated. Paul wants Timothy to learn that spiritual age is directly related to our level of surrender and devotion to Christ alone. Paul is reminding Timothy that you can be young and inexperienced, but that does not mean you are ineffective spiritually or that Christ can’t use you. Paul says just the opposite. He tells Timothy, not to let them “look down” on him, but to instead, “look to” him as an example of what following Jesus looks like. The same is true of all young people who follow Jesus. Growing spiritually and fulfilling Christ’s will for our lives (Love God, Love Others, and Share the Gospel) are not limited by age but by willingness. As a youth minister, for many years, I can’t count the number of times my own youth have challenged and encouraged me to follow Jesus more passionately. They were examples to me and to other adults, who were watching them, as they exemplified the Christian life through their “speech, … life, … love, and … purity.” It helped me, as an adult, to remember that the power of Christ is real and for all people of all ages. The same is true of you. Christ want’s you to be an example regardless of age. You are only limited by your willingness.