Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. 1 Timothy 4:12
When we talk about living lives of faith, we often think about how faith impacts us personally. We think about the strength God gives us when we act in faith and how He works and moves in our lives when we exercise faith. While all of these things are certainly true, there is another aspect of living faithfully that we must consider: the legacy we leave. You see, our faith impacts not only us but the people around us and the people we will leave behind one day.
There is a reason why the author of Hebrews 11 took the time to give us an account of people throughout the Bible who lived faithfully. They serve as an example for us. They were far from perfect, and many of their mistakes are well documented in Scripture, but ultimately, they were commended for their faith. They courageously took steps of faith when God gave them difficult and, at times, confusing assignments. Those watching them take these steps of faith must have thought they were out of their minds or had a good laugh. Think about all the people watching Noah when it had never rained, or watching Abraham when he left the comfort of his family, or Elijah sitting by a brook waiting for a bird to drop him some food. Though their calling might not have made sense to others, they remained faithful to God. This is their legacy of faith. After talking about their faith, the writer of Hebrews urged readers to run their race in light of the legacy that these previous men and women of legacy left (verse 1). They set a tremendous example for us to follow when it came to their faith.
When we think about our faith, we also have to think about the legacy we will leave. The apostle Paul understood this and taught Timothy about the importance of setting an example of faith for others by the faith we display. In 1 Timothy 4, Paul acknowledged the good examples he had in the faith of other people. After acknowledging this, Paul encouraged Timothy to leave a legacy of faith of His own. He said to Timothy, “Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity” (verse 12). In other words, Paul encouraged Timothy to leave a legacy by the way he lived his life, including His faith.
This call for Timothy to set an example with his lifestyle, including his faith, is a call for us too. We will leave a legacy by the faith we live with our lives. The question is, what will our legacy be? May we all determine to leave a faith legacy that points others to Christ and His great faithfulness.
Take a few moments to think about your faith. Then, pull out a journal and write about the legacy of faith you want to leave? What do you hope people will say about you one day when they talk about you and your faith? After thinking about this, write about what you think others who know you well would say about your faith today? How would those closest to you evaluate your faith right now? Finally, compare the legacy of faith that you want to leave and your faith right now. What similarities do you see? What differences do you see? Are there any changes you would like to make? How can you begin today living the legacy you would like to leave behind one day?
1 Timothy 4:6-16 (NLT)
If you explain these things to the brothers and sisters, Timothy, you will be a worthy servant of Christ Jesus, one who is nourished by the message of faith and the good teaching you have followed. Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives’ tales. Instead, train yourself to be godly. “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it. This is why we work hard and continue to struggle, for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and particularly of all believers.
Teach these things and insist that everyone learn them. Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. Until I get there, focus on reading the Scriptures to the church, encouraging the believers, and teaching them.
Do not neglect the spiritual gift you received through the prophecy spoken over you when the elders of the church laid their hands on you. Give your complete attention to these matters. Throw yourself into your tasks so that everyone will see your progress. Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you.
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