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
Timothy had been given a very difficult task. By this time he was in his mid-thirties, having spent fifteen years traveling with the apostle all through the Roman Empire. Back in those days, you were not considered to be over the hill until you got to forty at least, and that is why Paul tells Timothy,
Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young. But it was a difficult situation, because Timothy had to minister with men who had already been elders of the church in Ephesus for a number of years. The apostle Paul had taught these men himself, and yet Timothy was expected to correct some of the things that were going on in the church. That was a tough assignment for a young man. Timothy had to know how to go about it in a way that would not arouse the ire and opposition of others.
There are two things the apostle tells Timothy to do, and both are highlighted by two similarly sounding words, the monosyllables let and set
Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers . . . When Paul says,
Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, he does not mean, of course, that Timothy is to go around and take issue with anybody who does not like him. He means, rather, that Timothy is to be concerned about and aware of how he comes across to people; he is to be sensitive to how others see him.
How then is a young man to proceed? The apostle says by setting a good example in two areas--speech and conduct--and three qualities ought to come through--love, faithfulness, and purity. Those are the things that ought to characterize every young preacher: loving, faithful, pure speech and loving, faithful, pure behavior.
A young preacher must first of all be loving rather than arrogant, rude, censorious, critical, cruel, or sharp in either word or deed.
And he must be faithful to his commitments, not toadying and flattering, using insincere words. He must not be irresponsible, unreliable, or a promise breaker.
The third quality is purity. I do not know anything that has destroyed more young ministers than impurity. Ephesus was a city given over to sexual immorality, yet Timothy was expected to maintain a pure standard in the midst of that. There was to be no vulgar, obscene, or profane words in his speech; no dirty stories or double meanings; and no sexual misconduct, including indulging in pornography on the side. A pure life is the platform from which an effective ministry proceeds; without that all the words mean nothing.
Lord, in both my speech and my conduct teach me to be loving, faithful, and pure.
Persons who exemplify purity in speech and action are truly an endangered species. The need for such is critical. Are we seriously aiming to be this kind of example?