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Series: Other Speakers
Sun am 14th June 2015 – Justus Swart
(Phil. 2:22); 1 Tim. 4:12-16; 1 Tim. 5:1; James 3:9-10; Eph. 5:4, Prov. 19:23; Eph. 4:1;
(1 John 1:4 & 4:8); 1 John 2:15-17; Eccl. 12:1; Gal. 5:19-23
Even children form part of this amazing thing that we call the Body of Christ or the Church. They are not simply here to only play games or be entertained, but are here to take part in the life of Jesus Christ.
Timothy and Titus were not actually pastors in the traditional sense but they were sent into areas/churches that were experiencing problems. Timothy was roughly 35 years old and considered to be a young man in comparison to the other leaders in the church. He was sent to correct the problem of false teaching but he was having difficulty communicating with them. Paul describes Timothy as one who took a genuine interest in the welfare of others and served alongside as a son would serve his own father (Phil. 2:22). 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. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers (1 Tim. 4:12-16). Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father (1 Tim. 5:1). This verse shows how he was having difficulty communicating with the older leaders. Correcting others is never easy especially if someone is older than you. Paul tells Timothy how to establish himself in order to have influence. He wanted Timothy to stand in his own authority. All he really needed was to set an example. That is the crux of how we have influence. It is tragic whenever young people are passive or inactive in any community. God wants to use young people, He wants them to be influential within their own cultures and to be effective and set an example to all people. It is not impossible for us to learn from younger people, provided that they set the example. Whenever young people are subdued, God is not pleased; He does not discredit you because of your youth. God is not pleased with a sense of entitlement either. Paul is careful not to give Timothy a false sense of importance but tells him to lower himself and set an example for everyone. This is a key to community. We can either live our life according to the word of God or we can go our own way and bump our heads. You have a choice, do you want to take hold of this and run with it or do you want to keep going your own way? Paul gives him 5 areas in which has to set an example. These are the five areas in which young people are attacked. These are either areas of vulnerability or areas of strength: Speech, life, love, faith and purity.
Speech – How common it is to be critical about things. Speech relates to more than having bad language. Curing bad language does not necessarily cure a heart that is bitter towards someone. Speech is broader than swearing. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be (James 3:9-10). Cursing men means making others lower than us. We need to set an example by praising God and not breaking others down. Kids and young adults need to learn that breaking others down is a sign of your own insecurity. There should be no foolish talk or coarse joking which is out of place, but rather thanksgiving (Eph. 5:4). Not only are we to avoid cursing men, but rather use our mouth for giving thanks. A big indicator of a person’s maturity level is when they are placed in a situation that is bleak and difficult, yet they can dig deep and muster up the courage to make the situation lighter. It is an intense positivity. Some succumb to negativity and it brings others down. Can we lead the way with thanksgiving when everything looks a little dark and gloomy? Can we set an example by being encouraging?
Life – Many young people seem directionless. They have no idea what to do with their lives. It is so common for people to stumble through their 20’s with no real sense of purpose or calling. Paul urges Timothy to set an example by being driven and focused in his life; to grab hold of a direction and pursue it with courage. When you truly pursue your calling, you will be asked to sacrifice more than anything. The fear of the Lord leads to life (Prov. 19:23). We cannot find out who we are by randomly picking a career. A career is not everything. At a young age start asking God where you are going with your life. He wants to guide you, so invite Him into that process. If we live our lives dedicated to God, we will be fulfilled no matter where we end up. If we grab hold of this principle early in life, it will save you so much restlessness. Restlessness is the identifying mark of this generation. Everyone has received a calling; it is a life’s journey to discover the Lord’s calling in your life.
Love – Life and love are inseparable. When people are without drive and without passion in their lives, they lose their sense of self-worth. When that happens it becomes hard to love those around you. Where there is idleness, there is almost always a degree of depression. We were not created to be idle. God created Adam and gave him work to do. What young people often suffer from is lack of purpose and lack of drive; a lack of genuine love for the right things. Jesus commanded us to love our neighbour as we love ourselves, and when we do not, we fail to become what He has called us to be. The God who created us is life and is love (1 John 1:4 & 4:8). When we, who are created in His image, give up loving the right things, we limit ourselves from reaching our full potential. When we are connected to God and others through love, it creates a highway for God to come and communicate with us. It fills us with purpose and clarity when we can love others. John warns us against loving the wrong things (1 John 2:15-17). The ‘world’ referred to here is not people but the system on which the world is running, which works on ones desires, self-gratification and self-preservation. This is the most subtle of deceptions hanging over the young generation. We end up having manufactured feelings about wealth and popularity and drift away from the genuine love of God and His people. We can love, but it has to be for the right things. Loving the wrong things happens so easily and sweetly but is so misleading.
Faith – You need to have the foundation on which to stand. If you do not stand for something, you will fall for anything. If you neglect to build a strong foundation of faith in your life, you are more vulnerable to pressures and assault. The most common of these assaults in young people are feelings of loneliness. Many young Christians search for authentic community. We look for a place to be real and a place to be accepted and discovered. That search often leads to intense loneliness. Loneliness is not something to e shrugged off or belittled. Loneliness is a lie. You are never alone when you are with God. He fills every space in your life, and through faith you are connected to every believer in the world at all times. Young people are haunted by the shadow of loneliness that makes difficult times seem even more difficult; you feel like you are dealing with things completely on your own. Whether young or old, we are all on the same journey, and that unites us. Faith commits us to the same journey. Faith connects us to a community of believers, not just a friendship circle, but faith connects us to the entire community of believers and gives us assurance that we are never going through hard times alone. Loneliness can follow you from your younger years into your later life and it can be a difficult thing. It can create a barrier between you and others even when others are reaching out. It is only through the building up of your own faith that you discover those people around you. Seek out things that build up your faith. Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them” (Eccl. 12:1). Put habits into place early in life. Parents, play a role in building up the faith in your kids. Remember your Creator in the days of your youth. As a young person, be contemplative.
Purity – This is such a big concern for the younger generation today. Innocence is supposed to be treasured and held in high regard, but the world tells us that in order to live a full life, we need to be exposed to all kinds of impurity and experience even the wrong things. You feel left behind if you have not experienced certain things. There are so many competing voices out there and so many young people are confused as to where to pledge their allegiance. The Church should be the environment in which purity is celebrated and cherished. Young people should not feel their ‘coolness’ is at stake when they make good choices. The Galatians believed that as long as you were inside and had a relationship with God what you did on the outside and in your flesh did not matter. They believed in a separation between your spirit and your practical life. Paul nailed that really hard. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal. 5:19-21). These things do not happen in the open. These sins that involve shame happen very secretively. God wants us to be preoccupied with the fruits of the spirit that we have no time for anything else. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law (Gal. 5:22-23). We must be so preoccupied with being gentle, peaceful and patient and doing good that there is no time to think of other things. In fact, when other things arise, they are confronted with your peacefulness and your joy.
God is not trying to ruin your fun. He is actually inviting you on the greatest adventure of your life. It is not boring. He is a God of infinite adventure and He wants you to follow Him no matter how young or how old you may be. If you want to effect change in this community or in the lives of the people you interact with on a daily basis, if you want to influence others with the gospel, you need to first of all set an example. You need to set an example in speech, in life, in love, faith and purity.