1 Timothy 4:11

I. TIMOTHY IS ENJOINED TO EXERCISE A DUE AUTHORITY. "These things command and teach." He is to instruct the Church at Ephesus with all authority in all that concerned the nature of true piety, the dangers to be guarded against, and the duties to be faithfully discharged.

II. TIMOTHY IS ENJOINED TO CULTIVATE A GRAVITY OF DEPORTMENT THAT WOULD MAKE HIS YOUTH RESPECTED. "Let no man despise thy youth."

1. Timothy was only relatively a young man. It is highly probable that he was very young when he first joined the apostle (Acts 16:1-3) - perhaps nearly twenty-five years of age - and as eleven years had since intervened, he would probably now be about forty years old.

2. As Timothy had to give counsel to persons much older than himself (1 Timothy 5:1), and even to call them to account (ver. 19), it was necessary that he should cultivate a gravity of manner that would admit of his age being forgotten. Perhaps, also, as he was of a rather timid disposition - more disposed to obey than to command - the counsel of the apostle was more needed. He must be firm and manly, and destitute of every aspect or element of pretentious assumption.

III. TIMOTHY IS ENJOINED TO BECOME A PATTERN TO ALL BELIEVERS. "But become thou a pattern of the believers in word, in behavior, in love, in faith, in purity." Thus would he counteract any disadvantage arising from his youth. He was to be a pattern in all the leading characteristics of the Christian minister.

1. "In word."

(1) As to his public teaching, which must be according to God's. Word, showing in it uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech that could not be condemned.

(2) As to social intercourse, which must be

(a) not corrupt, vain, or foolish;

(b) but always with grace, seasoned with salt - wise, grave, edifying.

2. "In behavior." In the Church, the family, the world, he must maintain a deportment becoming the gospel of Christ, in all godliness and honesty, with simplicity and godly sincerity, so as to stop the mouths of gainsayers and earn a good report from them that are without.

3. "In love, in faith." These are the two motive forces of the Christian life to influence both the speech and conduct of the minister. The one is set in motion by the other; for "faith worketh by love."

(1) He is to be a pattern in love to God and man, without which, even if he has the tongue of angels, he is nothing.

(2) In faith, in the grace of faith, in the doctrine of faith, in the profession of faith.

4. "In purity." The minister must be pure in life, in thought, in language, and in all his relations to the world. - T.C.







These things command and teach.
With true affection, and with heavenly wisdom, Paul exhorts his son in the faith to be mindful of his conduct and character. Here, as well as elsewhere, the apostle exhorts to —

I. THE MAINTENANCE OF MORAL DIGNITY.

1. The tendency of Timothy was to yield rather than to command, to sacrifice truth for the sake of peace, and to lessen his own authority by morbid self-depreciation. Probably this is not so common amongst us as self-confidence; but it is a serious fault, and may be a grievous hindrance to usefulness. Unless you believe yourself to be capable of doing something better than you are now doing you will hesitate to attempt it. If you cannot trust God to help you through an onerous duty, you will be in danger of evading it. Much noble service has been lost to the Church and to the world by a foolish self-depreciation. I remember one who became a very successful man telling .me that his early youth was blighted by this morbid tendency, and that he owed all his prosperity to a wise-hearted, loving, motherly woman, who took pity on the sensitive, shrinking lad, and made him believe in himself as one gifted by God to do something in the world. "Let no man despise thy youth." Be manly, and brave, and firm, lest you sacrifice interests which God has entrusted to your charge.

2. But the way to overcome the disadvantage of youth in the opinion of others, and to gain influence over them, is clearly suggested here. It is not to be done by noisy self-assertion, by the evident desire to be prominent, but by becoming, through Divine grace, an exemplar of real Christian worth. "Be thou an example of the believer, in word, in conversation (or behaviour), in charity, in faith, in purity." (The phrase "in spirit" is properly omitted from the revised Version.)(1) It is through our "word" that we chiefly manifest to others the nature of our tuner life, and the tone and temper thus exhibited either weakens or strengthens our influence for good.(2) But words must be in harmony with conduct, and he would be a poor maintainer of Christ's cause whose words were admirable while his general behaviour was frivolous or faulty.(3) Nor is it enough to watch over our words and behaviour, but we must pay regard to motive and impulse, because we have to do with and to bear witness for the great Searcher of hearts, and should see that love and faith are the twin motive powers of Our life — love which really cares for the interests of others, faith which lays hold upon the strength and wisdom of an unseen yet everpresent God.(4) And added to all these must be unquestioned purity, which will make us so scrupulous about moral improprieties that the breath of slander will fade away instantly from the polished shield of our reputation, and will keep the inner life clear and chaste, while it gives us the fulfilment of the Lord's words, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."

II. Again, PREPARATION FOR CHRISTIAN WORK is inculcated here as well as maintenance of moral dignity. The apostle appears to have expected an early return to Ephesus, and hence writes.

1. "Till I come give attention to the reading, to the exhortation, to the teaching." The reference is primarily to the public duties of the Christian teacher. The "reading" of Holy Scripture in religious assemblies, which had been transferred from the synagogue, formed no inconsiderable part of the public worship of those days, as any one can imagine who reflects on the cost and rarity of manuscripts. "Exhortation" was often heard — appeals to affection and to enthusiasm, which led many a believer to give himself up entirely to the service of the Lord. And coincident with this was steady consecutive "teaching," by means of which God's Word was expounded, applied, and illustrated.

2. But the work to which Timothy was called required in the first place "a gift," which the apostle says was given him instrumentally — "by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery." The word used for "gift" denotes that it came from the Holy Spirit, with whom it is always associated in Paul's writings. These two — the gift of God and the recognition of it by the Church — should ever be combined in the pastor who is working for Christ.

3. But he is foolish and sinful who relies on the possession of a gift or the recognition of it by others. Neglected, the gift will perish, and the life of promise will end in miserable failure. The phrase rendered "give thyself wholly to them" might be more literally translated "be in them" — have your life in such thoughts and truths; let them constitute the atmosphere you breathe, and then your religious work will not be a something artificial and foreign to your nature, hut the necessary outcome of your inward life.

4. Give heed, then, unto thyself and unto the doctrine. Cultivate such gifts as you have, and use them without stint in your Master's service; and see to it that the teaching you give is not the chance utterance of a thoughtless mind, but the product of earnest thinking and of believing prayer.

III. Finally, Paul looked to see in Timothy (and God looks to see in us) READLINESS FOR THE PROMISED REWARD.

1. It is no small blessing which is promised in the 15th verse, "that thy profiting" (or rather thy progress) "may appear unto all." You should be a living epistle, known and read of all men.

2. Nay, more than this, "Thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee." A traveller who was sinking from exhaustion in a snowstorm on the mountain saw his companion suddenly drop helpless at his side; straightway his own peril was forgotten, and, flinging himself beside him, he chafed his hands and rubbed his chest; and by the effort which brought life back to the dying he kept himself alive — he saved both himself and the friend beside him. For your own sake, and for the sake of others, spend and be spent in this glorious service, and not only will your own life be the fuller here, but heaven itself will be made incomparably more full of joy.

(A. Rowland, LL. B.)

Let no man despise thy youth
1. Among the good qualities of the young which first discover themselves, and which we regard as the sure indications of everything excellent in morals, is a nice sense of what is good and what is evil, what is truly praiseworthy and what is not, with an early and earnest attention to the forming of their principles. When embarked on the ocean of life innumerable dangers will surround them, and various temptations, under the specious forms of pleasure, will assail their hearts. To rush blindly on in a course so perilous, without either the benefits of experience or the guidance of wisdom, must quickly lead to inextricable difficulties perhaps, if not to misery and ruin. But, to descend from general reflections to the discussion of a few particular subjects, permit me to observe that too great confidence in our own strength is always dangerous, and sometimes fatal. But modesty in youth should be a natural virtue; it should be derived from other, more abundant sources than mere reflection, a feeling of comparative ignorance, or a sense of common propriety; it should spring spontaneously from sensibility — from a heart alive to every sentiment of shame, before it has been hackneyed in the ways of men or rendered callous by a long intercourse with the world. Among the more innocent excesses of youthful passions and the less dangerous delusions of the mind may be ranked the extravagancies of hope and expectation. But the loss of some distant good, however heightened by the powers of imagination or overrated by the blind partiality of our hearts, is by no means the only, or most important evil, that springs from this vain exaltation of the mind. From being so long conversant with imaginary happiness we lose our relish for that which is real. The mind also, soured with disappointments and irritated by frequent vexations, becomes, at a more advanced period, incapable of sharing in the social intercourses of life. At the same time that they should take particular care to avoid the many false and artificial notions of life, which we are but too eager to embrace with blind credulity (and which, for that reason, indeed, the fanciful writers of romance are but too apt to communicate), they ought to acquire those enlarged ideas of men and things which have their foundation in truth, and, in some measure, supply the want of experience by habits of thought and reflection. Above all, they should have recourse to the blessed gospel of our Lord and Saviour Christ, and deeply impress their hearts with those Divine truths which illumine the natural mind of man, as the rays of the sun enlighten the globe. What I would next warn young persons against is an inordinate love of pleasure. Suffer me to conclude by observing that every age and condition brings with it, beside the ordinary obligations of virtue and religion, certain peculiar and appropriate duties — duties to which young persons must diligently attend if they wish that "no man should despise their youth," and which the aged must duly cultivate and regularly practise if they would have "the hoary head found in the way of righteousness" and reverenced as "a crown of glory." There are also a thousand secondary graces of character, which must be studied, and a thousand indirect modes of temptation to be guarded against, if we wish to make any considerable advances towards perfection and to lead "a godly, righteous, and sober life."

(J. Hewlett, M. A.)

As in a building, some bring stones, some timber, others mortar, and some perhaps bring only nails — yet these are useful; these serve to fasten the work in the building: thus the Church of God is a spiritual building. Some ministers bring stones — are more eminent and useful; others, timber; others, less — they have but a nail in the work; yet all serve for the good of the building. The least star gives light, the least drop moistens, the least minister is no less than an angel, the least nail in the ministry serves for the fastening of souls unto Christ. There is some use to be made even of the lowest parts of men; the weakest minister may help to strengthen one's faith. Though all are not apostles, all are not evangelists, all have not the same dexterous abilities in the work, yet all edify; and oftentimes so it cometh to pass that God crowns his labours, and sends most fish into his net, who, though he may be less skilful, is more faithful, and though he have less of the brain, yet he may have more of the heart, and therefore not to be contemned.

(J. Spencer.)

Palace Journal.
It is often late ere genius shows itself; just as often, however, does distinction come early. Thus at twenty-two Gladstone was a member of Parliament, and at twenty-four Lord of the Treasury. Bright never went to school after he was fifteen. Sir Robert Peel entered Parliament at twenty-one, and was Lord of the Admiralty at twenty-three. Charles James Fox became a legislator at nineteen — an age when young men are given to breaking rather than to making laws. Bacon graduated at Cambridge when he was sixteen, and was called to the bar at twenty-four. Washington was a distinguished colonel at twenty-two. Napoleon commanded the army of Italy at twenty-five. .Before he was seventeen Shelley was already an author — had translated the half of Pliny's "Natural History," and had written a number of wild romances.

(Palace Journal.)

Mr. Spurgeon began his remarkable career early enough to preach with a juvenile face many astonishingly effective sermons. His fiftieth anniversary, just celebrated, recalls an anecdote worth repetition. Mr. Spurgeon was asked, in what to most preachers would have been salad days, to deliver a discourse in a near village. Accordingly he went. On meeting the pastor, whose name was Brown, that good old gentleman was sadly disconcerted at his supply's youthful appearance. "Well, well," said he to Mr. Spurgeon, "I really did not dream that you were only a boy. I would not have asked you to preach for me if I had thought so." "Oh! well," said Mr. Spurgeon, laughing, "I can go back." But Mr. Brown would not permit this, and into the pulpit his boyish guest ascended. How he comported himself is thus narrated: "Mr. Brown planted himself on the pulpit stairs. Mr. Spurgeon read a lesson from the Proverbs, and upon coming to the passage, 'Grey hairs are a crown of glory to a man,' he said he doubted that, for he knew a man with a grey head who could hardly be civil. But the passage went on to say: 'If it be found in the way of righteousness,' and that, he said, was a different thing. When he came down from the pulpit Mr. Brown said to him: 'Bless your heart, I have been thirty years a minister, and I was never better pleased with a sermon; but you are the sauciest dog that ever barked in a pulpit'; and they were always good friends afterwards."

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