That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe. … Don’t let anyone look down on you because of your [age], but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 1 Timothy 4:10 & 12

 

     Every believer dreams of having the most loving, caring, helpful, and considerate church community. We are in it. You are the church community that is loving, caring and helpful. I am humbled to be a part of Christ’s body, but when Christ’s body, the church, is loving, caring, helpful, and consistent it is one of the most humbling aspects in life.

      Thank you for being the body of Christ!

      That was meant to be generic, I do believe that the church I worship at is the best, but really even the most devastated church is the body of Christ. Even the most rigid church is the body of Christ. And, yes, the church that seems to miss the aspect of somber, humble, and holy worship with their craziness are part of the body of Christ. We who believe in and strive to love God for who He is and believe Jesus Christ was crucified and rose from the dead are the body of Christ.

     As the body of we are the Living Gospel. That truth is one that is simple yet one that has unimaginable depth and application. The idea is that every believer is the Living Gospel. The Gospel being the good news for all, that Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins and rose to give those who believe in Him the hope of eternal life with the Creator King.

     The scripture in 2 Corinthians 5:14-6:2 shows that if we are living for God then we are bringing the message of restoration to others. If living for God is shown by bringing the message of restoration to God to others, there are questions implicit in the statement itself. How do we bring the message of restoration with God to others?

     There are an immense amount of styles that the message of restoration has been presented through over the centuries, but there is one factor that is consistent and essential to restoring others to Christ. The foundation is found not in simply what style we share the Gospel, rather it is found in us being the Living Gospel.

     I was listening to a devotional through theworshipinitiative.com the other day based on the song, “Because He Lives.” It emphasized the truth that Jesus is alive. The cross paid for the sins of the world, but God’s resurrection from the dead is the hope of eternal life. And, it is not Jesus alone who is alive. We are alive in Jesus. More than being alive in Jesus we who believe have the living God living inside of us through the Holy Spirit! So, yes, we are the Living Gospel.

    To be forward and honest the verses we will be looking at for this topic are not often used for the topic of sharing Jesus, but it is premised in this very important truth. The style is not the foundation of the message or, particular to this subject, the messenger is. But, I propose to you, the messenger is vital to the message.

The Message is essential to the Messenger

and the Messenger is vital to the Message.

     I do not mean that whether or not we are perfect will determine a person’s eternity, Jesus is the perfect sacrifice, but we are the body of Christ. Style can play an impacting role in sharing the Gospel, ask any missionary they spend a great deal of time integrating into and understanding their new cultures. But, the foundation of bringing the message of God to others is being the “Living Gospel.”

     The first letter to Timothy by Paul is rooted in knowing the truth of who God is and standing for that truth by telling others. Timothy had been trained by one of the greatest examples of being the Living Gospel. And, Timothy is being charged with showing others who God is.

     Paul described it like this: That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe. – 1 Timothy 4:10

     What Paul had just finished talking about striving for godliness, working for it and working at it. He was encouraging Timothy, a believer whom he had mentored and cared for like a son, that as a believer Timothy needed to understand who God truly is, not just what people have derived him to be through philosophy and fantasy. Paul wanted to address the why though. Why do we work at godliness? Why do we strive to make God known to others? Paul was addressing more than how proper knowledge of God produces action. Paul was showing how knowledge of the living God produces a drive for eternity.

     So, we must ask ourselves the question. As we learn more about our living God every week in church or during our private time with God. What drives us to live our daily lives? Do we go through our routines because it is what is expected each day? Or, do we put our today in the hands of our eternity? More, pointed to this topic, do we live today in the view of others eternity?

     In other words, are you so excited about eternity that today is all about your forever with God? That means your good and your bad is viewed in light of eternity with the Lord. That means that your conversations, at least in some way, have a root in the eternity you long for. Similarly, are the conversation you have rooted in that other person’s eternity? Are your actions rooted in the other persons eternity?

     This not just for how your words and actions affect someone who doesn’t believe in Jesus. As you gaze toward eternity do you remember that the body of Christ you are with now will be in eternity with God … and you.

     In the next part of the text, it is tempting to get distracted by the cultural difference from when Paul was writing and today. Believe me I wrote an extensive tangent, twice, before deleting them. Suffice it to say, the younger generation in Paul’s day was looked down upon whereas in our culture today youth is almost in complete contrast celebrated often at the expense of the older generation.

     Let no one despise you because of your youth but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. - 1 Timothy 4:12

I prefer this understanding of the text.

     Let no one despise you because of your [age] but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. - 1 Timothy 4:12

     Generational dynamics will cause some conflicts and frustrations, but often they are unmaliciously and unintentional. Paul’s explains later and in this statement how to respect different generations, but there is something in this text for each and every one of us.

set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. - 1 Timothy 4:12b

The Gospel is presented through the Messengers Actions

and their Words.

       If you are a believer and live for God you are sharing who God is with others, you are then setting the example for other believers an example in your speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity. Yes, this verse does not speak about sharing the Gospel with new believers. Instead, this verse focuses on presenting yourselves as an example to each other.  

       The person next to you and the person who has gone to church their whole life is who you are to set an example for. You are to be a person who shares God’s greatness with them through your conduct. Remember, you are striving for godliness because of your eternity with God. You are also striving for your conduct to be an example for the person’s eternity next to you.

       As a pastor’s wife, Hollie Lail, put it to me and Kate, “We are aiming to live in grace, not in perfection.” Remember, our eternity does not depend on what we have done. Actually, that has been a major point Paul has been pointing out to Timothy in this letter. He speaks about living in a godly manner not because of our need to for salvation, that is found in Christ. Instead, our conduct, our lives are lived in a proper way because of this statement:

      Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.  But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.  Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.  (1 Timothy 1:15-17)

       For that very reason, Christ’s grace shown me, I want to display who Christ is so that others can have life eternal with our God.

       Your example of a loving life is often times immeasurable in the lives of those whom you love. The favorite verse for churches today in mission statements is Matthew 22:37-39 where we see God, the Word, in human flesh giving His greatest command, to love God with everything you are and in doing so know that you will love those you come in contact with. The first letter of John only accentuates this by stating that if you don’t love your brother whom you see you cannot love God.

     Now do not forget, That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe. (1 Timothy 4:10)    Now the Word became flesh and lived among us (John 1) to do more than give us an example of godliness even though He was the perfect example of godliness (Hebrews 1:3). We have been given more than just an example. We have been given both the reason why we worship the God of the universe and who we worship. And, we know through God’s Word, (Yes, it is a circular argument premised in presupposition based authority)All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

       Our conduct is an example and our opportunity to train others in righteousness which should not be neglected. We have been given the greatest gift of eternal life in Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. But, we have also been given the greatest directive, to share this hope with others through our lives and our speech.

     This second letter of Paul to Timothy accents a very important focus. In the midst of evil, truth should not be hidden no matter the cost. And, for both Timothy and Paul the cost was brutality almost till death (2 Timothy 4:11). Paul even states that, Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2 Timothy 4:12)

     My request and thought to you is simple yet extremely difficult. How has your speech and your conduct been profitable for restoring others to God? How can your life and your speech be used for reproofing and correcting others of faith that have been caught in mistakes in order to restore them in gentleness as the end of Paul’s letter to the church of Galatia says?

     There are tasks that we feel like we need to do but being a living Gospel in someone’s life is not a task. Being a son, a daughter, a father, a mother, a friend, and or simply family is not a task it just is who you are.

     You have the opportunity to be the person who helps transforms someone’s life for eternity. By opening your life, your home, your family, and your time now you could change someone’s home, family, and eternity. You have the opportunity to be an encouragement in someone who already believes life so that they can press on and bring others to faith. Paul even ends this idea to Timothy about being an example and teaching others about God with this. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. – 1 Timothy 4:15- 16

     Who have you spoken to and showed the love of God to this week and who are you intentionally teaching, training, and being an example to? Is there someone that you are investing your time and your life in order that they might know God, love Him, and in doing so love others more!?

     Our view of God should drive us to be more immersed in who others are so that they might know who God is more. Be intentional and make it a point to have your life and your words be the light of Jesus into others.

     For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. – 1 Timothy 4:10

     The question that should be on our mind regularly through each week is this.

How have you impacted someone’s life for Christ this week?