“Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young”
Timothy is a big name in the bible. Unfortunately, we know it best as the name of books that are called Timothy because they start “Dear Timothy…” We don’t have any of his writing! But what we do know is interesting.
Timothy is generally thought of as one of the young people written about in scripture, along with John (the gospel author) and David (in his Goliath days). It is hard to pin down a precise age. When he starts travelling with Paul, he may be as young as a teenager or as old as late 20s.
Acts 16:1-4 Paul came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was a Jewess and a believer, but whose father was a Greek. The brothers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey.
1) Would you have gone with Paul?
1 Corinthians 4:15-17 Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me. For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.
In the second letter to the Corinthians, Paul describes it as “from Paul and Timothy” and talks about the preaching they received from himself and Timothy and Silas. The letters to the Colossians and Thessalonians, also. The letter to the Philippians is addressed as from Paul and Timothy, and he says:
Philippians 2:19-23 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me.
2) What does Paul think of Timothy?
Good advice, but
not what Paul was thinking.
When he writes Timothy, he addresses him as “To Timothy my true son in the faith.” And he has a lot of advice for him.
- Beware false teachers
- Remember Paul as an example of faith
- Worship Jesus and the Father
- Live your life as an example to others
- Respect your elders
- Care for those in need
- Tell people – even the wealthy and powerful – to put their hope in God.
- Don’t ever be ashamed of God. Nor of Paul when he was a prisoner.
- Remember your faith in Jesus.
- Live a pure life. 2 Timothy 2:22 “Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
- Rely on scripture to support you. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
3) What do you notice about this advice? Which is the most important to you? Why?
One of the most famous pieces of the Bible is in the forst letter to Timothy.
1 Timothy 6:6-10 But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
4) Sometimes this is misquoted as “money is the root of all evil.” What is the difference?
Paul closes the first letter with some good summing up:
1 Timothy 4:11-16 Command and teach these things. 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. 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 a prophetic message 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. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.
5) What are some of your gifts that you are called to use for God’s glory?
We'll close by having the youth write their future selves advice from the past... should be interesting!
Photos from Flickr: cornflakegirl_, Augapfel, and tonythesuperperson