1 Timothy 4:7b-16

I preached my first sermon ever to a youth group in Nashville, Tennessee, when I was nineteen years old. I remember standing outside in the church’s courtyard in the middle of the summer heat wearing a cowboy hat. I cannot imagine that what I said was helpful or particularly deep, but I do remember preaching from 1 Timothy 4:12: Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.

I hope I tried to help the church’s youth group realize that age is not a prerequisite for being called by God. That they could, right then and there, choose to lead a life in Christ. They could set examples for others to follow with their speech, behaviors, and faith. They could be examples of this for their peers, and also for their parents.

What I do remember is taking Timothy’s list of words and giving examples of how the teenagers could live like Christ daily through the words they chose to say, the plans they made and carried out, the love they showed, the faith they nurtured, and the purity they pursued. 

This list of specifics for modeling speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity is never an exhaustive one. And it’s not a list for teenagers only. Telling youth that they can achieve and model their lives after Christ at their young age empowers them. But 1 Timothy 4:12 is also empowering for adults. We too need to hear this and consider how we can find better ways to give our speech, our lives, and our love, faith, and purity to Christ as we interact online and in person. 


Make a list of ways in which teenagers can set examples in speech, life, love, faith, and purity. Now make a list of how you could do these things too. Compare the lists.


God who calls us all, help me see how to continue sharpening my faith and my actions in the world for you. Amen.

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