Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.
1 Timothy 4:12-15 (NIV)
Read: 1 Timothy 4
Consider: Let me ask you a very pointed question. Are you growing as a Christian or standing still? When Paul wrote to Timothy he knew that he was writing to a relatively young man. Despite this, Paul knew that Timothy needed to make progress in the Christian life. Paul highlights four things in which he encourages Timothy to make progress:
- public reading of Scripture;
- using his God-given gift.
Looking at this list you might have already decided that they don’t all apply to you. Yes, you may not be called to publicly read Scripture, but you are called to read the Bible privately so that you can get to know God better and more deeply. You may also not be one of those who is called to preach the Word.
Teaching is a lot simpler, because each of us is called to explain the basis of our faith to others when the opportunity arises. Of course this is only possible when we spend time reading and studying the Bible for ourselves, as well as spending time under sound Bible teaching in church and possibly in home groups.
Lastly, Paul encourages Timothy to use the gift (whatever it is) that God has given him. This is equally true of us today. We need firstly to discover what gift God has given us and then we need to exercise it within the body of Christ (the church).
The opposite of making progress is standing still as a Christian. Evidence of standing still in the faith might be someone who doesn’t bother to read and study the Bible regularly, doesn’t put themselves under sound Bible teaching (perhaps by absenting themselves from attending church), who fails to share their faith and who hasn’t discovered their God-given gift.
Christian maturity isn’t dependent upon age. As Paul says to Timothy – Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. Paul encourages Timothy to set an example for the other believers in things which every Christian should also be setting an example – speech, conduct, love, faith and purity.
If you know you are not currently making progress in your faith, today can be the day that you resolve to allow God to change things. Start by spending time in reading the Bible and praying, perhaps using a Bible reading plan or study notes to get you into this discipline.
Pray: Father, help each of us to make progress in our faith. Create a hunger in us to get into your Word and to develop a consistent prayer life. Encourage us to discover and exercise the gift you have given us within the body of Christ. Amen