The world is always looking for methods. God is always looking for a person.
As you prepare for todays devotional, this short video will help sketch a wider contemporary context to bring the truth of the Biblical example a bit closer to home (https://youtu.be/RybILYQ7DUo).
1 Timothy 4:12-16
12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. 14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. 16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.
Observation and reflection questions
Context: Paul left young Timothy to oversee a large church in Ephesus. Apparently he felt out of depth and intimidated by his youth and his big task. In this section Paul again instructs Timothy how to reaffirm his leadership over this big church.
- Read through the text again and phrase-by-phrase suggest synonyms for the character qualities that Paul exhorts Timothy to develop. In other words find one word that describes a person who does these things.
- “let no one despise you” (v12a)
- “example in speech, conduct, love, faith, purity” (v12b)
- “until I come devote yourself to…” (v13)
- “Do not neglect the gift you have…” (v14)
- “practice these things” (v15)
- “keep a close watch on yourself and the teaching” (v16)
- “persist in this” (v16)
- Paul calls Timothy to be an example to the church in Ephesus (v12). What do you understand with his instructions
- “be an example in speech”
- “be an example in conduct”
- “be an example in love”
- “be an example in faith”
- “be an example in purity”
- Notice how Paul’s instruction to Timothy starts with conviction in his heart, then his personal devotional life, then his public example, and then his leadership responsibility and influence. What does this suggest about the way to developing a godly character?
Personal relfection and application
Young Timothy was intimidated to lead such a big church in Ephesus, but Paul did not suggest methods to handle this big congregation. Rather, he challenged him to find confidence from conviction, to be an example in godliness, and remain faithful in devotion and duty. Paul’s answer to unsure leadership was character growth – after all, Timothy’s conduct is what will be emulated.
- How would you describe your character in 5 words? (Think of how people close to you would describe you.)
- When you consider your public reputation vs your true character – in which areas are there discrepancies? What aspects of your character will cause shame if being exposed publically? Write down one or two aspects.
- Talk to a mature Christian friend about these discrepancies; confess it all to him/her and pray together about your character.
- Look at Paul’s instruction to the young leader Timothy. How have you grown and how could you still grow in:
- Confidence through conviction.
- Example in godliness (“in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity”)
- Devotion, faithfulness and persistence.
Pray about your example as a leader – your real character. Thank God for the growth that you have enjoyed until now, and pray that God will help you grow Christlikeness.