Growing In Faith
I am sure you know that, as a Christian, you are meant to live as an example to others in the way you behave. Older siblings are warned to be a good example to their younger brothers and sisters. Christian young people are told of the importance of living as Christians before a watching world of unbelievers. When you are at school and work, when you are interacting with neighbors and customers, even when you are at a family reunion, you are to behave in distinctly Christian ways. You won’t do the wrong that unbelievers do. You won’t watch the indecent scenes that unbelievers watch. You won’t accept as funny the situations at which unbelievers laugh. Jesus taught that we are “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” and as such we are to stand out from the world around us. (Matthew 5:13-16)
We are also to stand as an example of Christian character and maturity before other Christians, even when those Christians are older, wiser, and godlier than you. That is a scary thought, an intimidating challenge. Yet, this was exactly Paul’s challenge to Timothy. Timothy was a young man, young enough that older Christians might look down on him and think that they could not possibly learn anything from him. Still, Paul told him that it was his responsibility to set them an example in his conduct.
“Conduct” is a very general word. It’s a broad word that refers to all of life. In all we do, including our behavior, we are to set an example. There is no area of life that isn’t covered by “set the believers an example . . . in conduct. . .” (1 Timothy 4:12, ESV) This was true for Timothy and it is true for you and me. We are to be an example at home, at church, at the grocery store, on the freeway, on the playground, and at the barber shop. In the day-in, day-out humdrum of life—at the gas station, in the grocery line, at the soccer game, washing the car—we must be an example.
In order to show true Christian conduct in our lives, it has to be in us. It has to be genuine, not just a performance. If our conduct is simply outward conformity to the expectations of the Christian crowd, it is not genuine and will not stand up under pressure or temptation. Christian conduct must flow out of a Christian thought life, so it's important what we are feeding our minds accordingly in terms of music, TV, movies, and conversation. Remember Philippians 4:8 (ESV), "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."
Are you that example of godliness? Do others look to you as someone who models what it means to conduct yourself as a Christian? When you gather with other people, do they see you modeling Christian conduct? Do other Christians see you as a model of godliness? This is your God-given task!
All the time, in every way, in all of life, God challenges us to be an example of godliness to both non-Christians and Christians.
Here are some questions to consider regarding your conduct:
- In what ways do you think you are serving as a good example in your conduct? Pray and thank God for them.
- In what ways do you think you are setting a poor example in your conduct? Pray and ask God to forgive you and to give you the grace to change!