1 Timothy 4:12
“Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith and in purity.”
One of my biggest struggles has been being “in” the world, and not “of “the world. When I am in the world, I find myself falling into traps. I get sucked into the gossip, the lies, the backstabbing and all the other ungodly characteristics of the world. Then, I find myself in a pickle. Do you know what I mean? You are walking with Jesus in the morning, but find yourself on the path that leads to the world in the afternoon. How do I stop this cycle? I asked the Lord this morning to teach me to be a good witness and to not walk after the flesh anymore. I asked for understanding, which He so faithfully gives when I seek it.
Paul tells Timothy to “be an example to the believers”. The word example is translated as “tupas”, which means a pattern. The picture that the dictionary (Vines Expository) used was a “metaphor of a cast or frame into which molten material is poured so as to take its shape.” My aunt, many years ago, owned a ceramic shop. She would make this mixture and pour it into various shaped molds. She would put the molds into the fire, or kiln, until the mixture hardened. After the fire, she would let the pieces cool and then break away the mold. Out would come a piece of ceramic that was exactly like the mold, to the very last detail.
As I pondered on this, the Lord showed me how I am the mixture that is being poured into a mold. The mold is Jesus Christ, the life and the example, the mold that He left for us. I am just liquid to be poured into a preset, premade mold. Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of you mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” I am to be conformed, molded into the form of Jesus Christ- nothing else. I have been poured into a mold, and now I am going to be put into the fire. My faith is going to be tested, many times over. It takes a lot of heat to make any piece of ceramic come out perfect, and it takes more than one time in the kiln. (So don’t get too excited, the fire will come, and keep coming until you are perfected)
Paul encourages Timothy to be that pattern and example to believers because they were “judging” him for his youth. Timothy was believed to be in his late teens to early twenties when Paul wrote this letter to him, but despite Timothy’s age, God was still doing a great and mighty work through him. No matter what our age, who we are, where we come from, or what we have done in the past, God wants to mold you, He wants to pour you out into the mold that Jesus Christ has laid for you. Do not let what other people say stop you. If God has called you to something, then God will make it happen in your life- despite what others say.
What I found interesting was that Paul tells Timothy to be that example to “believers” not to all men. Hmm, I thought- that’s interesting. But it makes complete sense. You see, my struggles in the world are because I am a Christian. I am “in” the world, but I am not “of” the world, and there is a big difference. My first witness is to those within my home, then those within my church. So, how do I be that example that pattern; that mold for Jesus Christ? Good question- I asked it myself!
Do you remember years ago, there was a pastor who asked everyone to think “What Would Jesus Do?” before they acted out on something? Well, in some respects that is very true of what Paul is telling Timothy- but instead, I believe that what Paul is actually saying is, “What DID Jesus Do?” Jesus already laid down the foundation; He already lived the life, and gave us the example. If we get to know Jesus, and grow in our knowledge of Him, then we will “know what Jesus did” in situations we are faced with everyday. We have the ultimate example before us in God’s Word. It is all laid out, verse by verse, for us- all we have to do is be willing to be “poured out” into the mold of Jesus Christ.
One important thing I think for us to remember is that it is not our mold- but God’s. We are only the liquid that is being poured into a preset mold- which is Jesus Christ. If we desire to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” then we will become less and He will become more. Even the very details of our lives will be Christ Jesus, the thoughts, the desires, the intents of our hearts will become His- isn’t that what we all seek? To be like Him, to be for Him, and to be the liquid poured into His mold? One of the verses that God has shown me recently is Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
The next time I am faced with a situation- my response should be “Jesus, you have been here before- what did You do? Show me?” He will if we are willing to be mixed up, melted down and poured out- He will show you what He did.
Dear Lord, that we would become liquid, pliable and willing to be poured out into the mold which You have made for each of us. You have given us the perfect example through Your Word, I pray that we would open our hearts to Your Word and cry out to You in everything we do. In Jesus Name, Amen.