“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself…Do not neglect your gift, which was given 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.
This passage speaks loving and encouraging words from Paul as he attempted to build up his ‘son in the faith.’ Paul knew that Timothy’s youth was being called into question by the older believers. God had entrusted Timothy with an amazing gift of preaching and teaching the message. Many times he was not taken seriously because of his age and lack of experience in life. My heart goes out to this youthful pastor whose desire was to grow people into the faith.
By the time I was 21, I was already a wife and mother. Older friends of my parents were constantly describing me as a child with a child, creating deep insecurities regarding motherhood in my mind and heart. These sweet people never intended to harm me with their comments, but my awareness of inexperience and age left me feeling inadequate as a mother. I can remember many talks with my mother, asking her if she thought I was a good mother. She was always encouraging and convincing as she consistently lifted me up. (Now she lifts me up as an old mother!) If it were not for the on-going support she gave me, I could have been distracted and ineffective in caring for God’s gift to me.
When we decide to pursue God more deeply, He reveals our spiritual gifts to accomplish His purpose for each of our lives. We all begin as baby Christians in our walk of faith nursing on the words of God. As our devotion to Christ increases, our spiritual impact emerges as our doctrines are in our feet instead of simply on our tongues. Our confidence in God begins to grow and our story of faith is in full view regardless of how long we have pursued Him.
Those of you who have recently discovered your God-given gift, do not measure your effectiveness against others – each gift has been handpicked for you from God. He is your confidence and your hope. Those who see opportunities to lift up others in their walk should take the time to encourage and build up the faith of others.
We will always find ourselves surrounded by those whose faith is more mature and those whose faith is in its infancy. The goal is to measure ourselves against God, not man. ‘For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you…For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.’ 2 Tim 1:6-7.
Read more articles by Brenda Emmons or search for articles on the same topic or others.