WHAT IF EVERYONE WAS JUST LIKE YOU?
Have you ever been driving through town around lunch time or around the evening rush hour and noticed one or two teenagers standing on the side of some busy intersection? A closer look reveals that they are advertising for a nearby pizza restaurant. They are dressed in harmony with their employer's design. They wear the same color outfits as that of the business they represent. They show a great amount of zeal as they wave their signs and strive to convince you that there is no other pizza that can compare to theirs.
Have you seen the so-called "homeless" man standing at the next busy intersection you pas through? He has no zeal, he is dressed very raggedly, and he has little appeal to the hundreds of people who pass by him every day. He holds a sign that sometimes reads, K"Will work for money," or that sometimes asks for money with o services offered. Most people view him as a nuisance.
As you pass through the busy intersections of life, have you noticed your lifestyle for Jesus? How do people who watch your life every day see you in comparison to what Scripture says is required of those who follow Christ? do they see you dressing in harmony with the character of the one that you say you represent? Do they see a zeal in you as you attempt to convince people that there is no other way to get to heaven except through Jesus? Or, does your walk for Jesus cause others to think that you are homeless. . . without a home in heaven? Do they see you carelessly standing around holding a sign that reflects your trust in worldly provisions rather than in the Lord's provisions? Does your lifestyle look like the religious groups around town having "rummage sales" attempting to get the world to support what God has called you to do?
What if all other Christians followed your example? What if they were just like you? The apostle Paul dealt with these very questions when he wrote to his son in the faith, Timothy, in the first epistle to Timothy, chapter four. Let's look at first Timothy, chapter four, verse twelve together. There we can see Paul admonishing a timed, young, Christian man as he exhorted him to model a godly lifestyle worthy of imitation before all those around him, especially those who were believers. Paul desired Timothy to live in such a way so as to example the life of one surrendered to the Lord Jesus Christ. Examine 1 Timothy 4:12 and see if you can envision Paul exhorting Timothy to maintain an example of Christian integrity. Look how Paul teaches him to maintain an example of Christian maturity. Is this any less than Jesus expects from you and me today? Follow along as I read 1 Timothy 4:12. (Read text.)
Please bow your head, close your eyes. . . no one looking around. Friend, as we approach the holy throne of the Lord right now, would you ask him to reveal all of the changes needed to make your christian lifestyle one worthy of imitation? Some of you may need to be totally honest with your self and with God and admit that you are lost and have no life in Christ at all! Would you ask Him to show you your deepest need right now? Lord, please do your personal work in every one of our hearts, right now, so that no person in this building will leave here today being any less than a christian whose lifestyle would be worthy of imitation. In Jesus' name, amen.
One of our great forefathers in the faith, John Wesley, once said, "The world would be Christian. . . were it not for Christians!" (Jones, s.v. Influence, page 189). Paul's letter to Timothy was an attempt to prevent this type of statement from being made about Timothy or any other believer at Ephesus. Previous verses in first Timothy, along with chapter 4 verse 12, denote that Timothy was already facing some difficulties in dealing with several issues in the church at Ephesus, (Wuest, 73). Paul desired Timothy to maintain a godly example before all the people. Paul's instructions challenged Timothy to live with such integrity that no one would have a reason from his life to despise him. Paul was saying, "don't give anyone any grounds by any fault of your character for despising your youth," (Wuest, 73). Throughout the first epistle to Timothy we find several characteristics that Paul expected to find in the young man's life that would cause him to example christian integrity. One of those was honest holiness. Integrity means living honestly or sincerely. Holiness means the setting apart of one's heart and life for the purposes of God in Christ, (Thayer's, s.v. αγιασμoς, 48). The integrity of the believer is motivated and driven by the individual's consecration and holiness before the Lord. What if every christian followed and imitated your example of holiness? Would integrity be a characteristic found in them? Not only did he command holiness from Timothy, but a second area Paul desired Timothy to portray was that of genuine godliness. If holiness is the characteristic of none's being set apart for the work of Christ in the heart, then godliness is the expressing of that holiness in the lifestyle. Holiness involves the relationship to the Lord. . . godliness is the reverential living before Him, (Forlines, 181a). Paul's intention was for Timothy to bear out a devotion to Christ so strongly that no one could look down upon or think little or nothing of Timothy's youthfulness, (Thayers, καταφρovεω, 338). Timothy was probably between the ages of thirty and thirty-five, (Lea, N. A. C., 137-38). The custom of his day was for much older men to hold authoritative leadership positions. "Youth" in this verse was probably a reference to the "average" age by which most men attained such a position as Timothy's, (Wuest, 72-73). No one should be able to accuse Timothy of a lack of Christian integrity because of his youthfulness.
What example of integrity are you setting before people? The great preacher from our past, D. L. Moody, once said, "the Christian is the world's Bible, and in many cases a revision is necessary," (Knight's, 35, s.v. Christian Example-Influence). Do you need to come back to Jesus for Him to "revise" any area of your life? If everyone was just like you, what would be the state of Christianity today? Do you express a contagious Christianity? A lady named Aunt Dinah once said, "They say she got religion, " speaking with doubt about one of her friends. "But if she did," Aunt Dinah said, "it don't hinder her none from carrying on like she always did, and no one need be afraid of catching it from her!" (Knight's, 35). What are people "catching" from your example of Christian integrity?
Paul not only called on Timothy to example Christian integrity, he also expected him to be an example of Christian maturity. If one measures out proper integrity, it can't help but produce spiritual maturity in the lifestyle of the person. Another way that Paul noted that Timothy could keep the Ephesians from despising or treating him with disinterest was to serve the people with a sincere servant's spirit. That spirit could be best shown by not only how he lived his private life with the Lord, but also how he treated the people and lived wilt them. A well known Southern Baptist preacher and author, With Hobbs noted that the world's measures a man's greatness by the number who serve him. But heaven's yardstick measures a man by the number who are served by him, (Knight's, s.v. "service", 357).
Timothy's service as spiritual leader was to be exampled by every facet of his life as he lived with, among, and for the church at Ephesus. His level of spiritual maturity should be seen by, first of all, Timothy's outward, observable traits. It must be expressed in word. . . the way you say it. How important are words in portraying Christian maturity? The wise man, Solomon, said in Proverbs 25:11 that "a word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver." This means that there is tremendous value, beauty, and wisdom found in well-chose, well-shaped words, (Hubbard, Communicator's: Proverbs, 396-97). What you say portrays your Christian maturity or your lack of it. Another outward, observable trait is that of conversation, which means ones lifestyle or conduct, (Thayer's, s.v. Strong's number 391), or the way you do it. One's customs habits, and ways of dealing with people determine how deep one's level of spiritual maturity really is, (Hendriksen, 158). Words and Walk should never contradict one another. Do as you say and say as you do.
Paul not only speaks of Timothy's Outward, observable traits but also his inward, intangible traits. These qualities form the real maturity of a believer that leads to the observable traits. One that Paul mentions is charity, that is, the way you love it. This is that unique love that is in sincere Christian fellowship based upon one's relationship to Christ, (Kittles, s.v. αγαπη). Not only should love mandate the maturity,but one's spirit should manifest maturity. Most New Testament scholars today say that scribes added this word later after Paul wrote this letter to Timothy. But is still reflects Paul's meaning here and in other passages concerning one's attitude or how you think it. It reflects the innermost being of those who no longer live by self but by God's being for them in Paul's pastoral epistles, (Kittles, s.v. πvευματι).
Not only is Christian maturity exampled by how you love and think, it is also seen by faith, which means, how you portray it. This faith means the level of one's faithfulness or trustworthiness, (Kittle's, s.v. πιστει). Faithfulness is immediately attached to one's purity, which mean, the way you desire it. Timothy was expected to show a sinlessness of life by the purity of his morality, (Robertson, 580-81).
Paul was confident that Timothy would be encouraged to live out Christian integrity and maturity in such a way that if everyone followed his pattern and example, all of the believers at Ephesus would thus example Jesus himself. How about your example? What if everyone was just like you? Would Jesus be pleased with their example of Christian integrity? Would they be living in holiness and godliness or dishonesty and disgrace? What about your example of Christian maturity? If I personally imitated your example, what would Jesus say about my words. . . my conduct. . . my love. . . my attitude. . . my faithfulness. . . my desires? What if everyone was just like you?
Look! There in your hand. See the sign you hold up for everyone who drives by to see? Does it say homeless or holiness? Does it say honesty or Hypocrisy? Does it say Christian or Christless? Now, as they drive by, if someone were to stop and say, "I want to live just like you," where would they spend all of eternity? The song asks, "Can others see Jesus in You?" Can they? Bow your heads, close your eyes as you allow the Holy Spirit of God to deal with your heart and your example. Is there a need for repentance before God in any area?
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Text: 1 Timothy 4:12
Subject: Living a proper Christian example.
Proposition: I propose that God calls Christians to set an example worthy to be imitated by anyone desiring to live for Christ.
Objective: For believers to know whether or not the elements in verse 12 are present in their daily lifestyle to the extent that Jesus would be well-pleased with the type of life they portray in His name and to fully repent of any area that is tarnished by sinfulness.
INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
AN EXAMPLE OF CHRISTIAN INTEGRITY . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Honest Holiness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Genuine Godliness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
AN EXAMPLE OF CHRISTIAN MATURITY . . . . . . . . . . . 5
By Outward, Observable Traits . . . . . . . . . . . 5
The way you say it--word. . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
The way you do it--conversation . . . . . . . . . 9
By Inward, Invisible Traits . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
The way you love it--charity . . . . . . . . . . 10
The way you think it--spirit . . . . . . . . . . 11
The way you portray it--faith . . . . . . . . .
The way you desire it--purity . . . . . . . . .
CONCLUSION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12