1 Timothy 4:11-16
The four authors of this group blog are all under-40 which in the context of the URC is a rare thing. One of the things that I’ve had to deal with in my ministry is the constant reference to my relative youth. It doesn’t matter how many times I reference the fact that I’m now around the age that Jesus was when he was crucified, or when John Calvin had written the first edition of the Institutes, or when George Whitefield was preaching to thousands, I’m still seen by some as a young lad.
I think Timothy must have experienced something of this. The qualifications for elders given in chapter three seem to indicate that being an older man is one of the pre-requisites for eldership. How can the church know if a man can manage his household, if he doesn’t have a household? And the church needs to have seen his life and example for some years to make the judgement as to whether he is qualified to lead God’s church. The very word “Elder” suggests someone who has a few grey hairs.
Yet, there were clearly exceptions, and Timothy is one. Paul tells him to “let no one despise your youth” (v.12). But how was he to do that?
One of the ways might have been to show his professional aptitude. He could have created a few new programmes for the church and organised them in a fantastic new way. He could have made a big fuss to the outside world to show how hip and trendy he was. But the advice that Paul gives is similar to what we hear time and time again in the New Testament. Keep your head down, carry on the essentials, persevere in the faith.
Timothy is to “set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (v.12). Rather than listen to the gripes about his age he is to continue walking in a godly manner. Everything that Timothy does must be conducted in love, faith and purity – not so easy to do when facing opposition.
He must also devote himself to “the public reading of scripture, to exhorting, to teaching” (v.13). This goes against the grain today as it did back in Timothy’s day. Christian worship is simple worship. There should be no fancy gimmicks. No focus on the praise band/organ/bagpipes. No stupid sketches, mime or liturgical dance. No staring at a stone until a candle burns to the end. No.
Have a minister read the scriptures, and then get him to preach on them.
There’s plenty of places to get the other stuff but nowhere where you’ll hear God’s Word unless ministers are doing their real job.
And Timothy is to persevere in the faith. He is to pay close attention to himself, ensuring that he is continuing to put his trust in Christ and no other. And we pray that we here at ReformationURC and other ministers wherever they are found, are not despised because of their youth but would be found faithful in the things which have been entrusted to us. The salvation of ourselves and others depends on it.