Be Thou an Example

Bernie Payne, Nfld.

From "Assembly Focus"

"Be thou an example" (1 Tim. 4:12), so wrote the apostle Paul to the young man Timothy. This is a striking exhortation, particularly in view of the fact that the chapter begins by speaking of those who in latter times would depart from the faith. The days in which we live could certainly be called "latter times." Never before has this challenge been so relevant to the times, and never before has there been such an urgent need for Godly examples.

Too often we fail to realize that we are leaving impressions on those around us. We all have an influence upon one another, either for good or for evil. We might well consider the question, "What kind of influence do I have upon others?"

Paul wrote to the Corinthian assembly, "Be ye followers of me" (1 Cor. 11:1); and to the saints at Philippi, "Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do." (Phil. 4:9) The apostle was keenly aware of his influence upon others.

The natural tendency is for us to think that there is no way of measuring up to men of this caliber. I would like to emphasize this very important truth; that it is possible to live Godly in this "present evil world." Not only is it possible, but it is an absolute necessity if one is going to be preserved from the evil all around, and testimony is going to be maintained. May the Spirit of God challenge each one of us to have desires akin to those of the apostle Paul. In the book of Philippians he desired to "know Him" (ch. 3:10), and to "magnify Him" (ch.1:20). Godliness is within the grasp of every child of God.

There are a number of individuals in the Scriptures who are named expressly as being a "man of God." Let us consider some of these in light of 1 Tim. 4:12, and examine together the ways in which Timothy was admonished to be "an example."

(1) IN WORD...I am reminded first of all of Samuel, of whom it was said "a man of God, and he is an honorable man; all that he saith cometh surely to pass" (1 Sam. 9:6).

Then I am reminded of the words of the widow of Zarephath when speaking to Elijah. "By this I know that thou art a man of God, and the word of the LORD in thy mouth is truth"(lKings 17:24). When I come to the New Testament I am reminded of a verse like this; "Sound speach, that cannot be condemned" (Titus 2:8) The example set before us here is that of a SURE WORD.

(2) IN CONVERSATION (manner of life)...The walk of Elisha so impressed the woman of Shunem, that she was made to confess "I perceive that this is a holy man of God, which passeth by us continually" (2 Kings 4:9). Here we are reminded of a SANCTIFIED WALK.

(3) IN CHARITY.. No one, apart from the Lord Jesus, manifested this trait so admirably as did David, "the man of God." That David loved Jonathan is both obvious and understandable. But David’s kindness was extended to Saul who hated him, to Mephibosheth who was an enemy, to Ishbosheth who was a threat to his kingdom and kingship, and to many others. However, it is David’s love for the Lord that shines brightest, and indeed it is that love from which all other love stems. At least three times David is referred to as a "man of God" (2 Chron. 8:14; Neh. 12:24 & 36), and in each mention is the thought of praise to God. Paul, in writing to the saints at Rome, concerning love adds this qualification, "Let love be without dissimulation." (Rom.12:9) The Lord knows our hearts. Love of the kind David exhibited, and that which Paul speaks of, produces from our hearts SINCERE WORSHIP.

(4) IN SPIRIT (character)...The name Igdaliah is only mentioned once in all of the Word of God yet how noteworthy is that mention, for Igdaliah is called a "man of God" (Jer. 35:4). The other noteworthy thing about this man is the fact that he is mentioned in connection with the House of the Lord. Very little is said about the man Igdaliah, but the words "man of God" tell us a great deal about his character. Paul wrote to Timothy these words, "That thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God." (1 Tim. 3:15) The area of example illustrated here is a SPIRITUAL WORK.

(5) IN FAITH. . The last words of Moses are termed "The blessing, wherewith Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel" (Deut. 33:1). Faith, according to Mr. W.E. Vine, is "a firm persuasion, or conviction, based upon hearing." To Moses was given instruction regarding God’s laws, and instructions regarding the tabernacle and service that pertained to it. Over and over again in the life of Moses we read that he did as the Lord commanded him. Moses therefore pictures for us a SUBMISSIVE WILL.

(6) IN PURITY.. Finally we come to the New Testament, where we find a young man named Timothy. While there are many in the New Testament that we could rightly call "a man of God," only Timothy is referred to in this way. The admonition of the apostle was this, "But thou, 0 man of God, flee these things" (1 Tim.6:l1).

There are a number of things mentioned in the New Testament that we are to flee. Among them are fornication (1 Cor. 6:18), idolatry (1 Cor. 10:14), youthful lusts (2 Tim. 2:22). But the wise apostle not only warns the young man of what to flee "from," he also tells him what to follow after. Included in the list of things to follow after is godliness. Timothy’s life was to be that of a STEADFAST WITNESS.

As we scan the lives of these "Men of God" and many other godly men and women, we are prone to think of them as being different from ourselves, or as having some special ability to serve the Lord. Indeed, there is no service apart from Divine enablement. Some may say, "If I could only hear God speak to me as He did to others long ago, it would make a difference." Let us make no mistake; the Word of God that we hold in our hands, the Bible, is God’s clear, unmistakable voice to mankind, and is just as sure and just as authoritative as when He spoke audibly long ago. Moreover, it requires our immediate and unreserved obedience to every precept, practice, and principle. Godliness is linked directly to obedience to the Word of God. In fact, we can’t have Godliness apart from obedience to God’s Word, for Godliness is really "God-likeness." Concerning the Word of God, we can say with Peter, "We have also a more sure word of prophecy" (2 Peter 1:19). In light of the things we have considered together, let us ask ourselves once again, "WHAT KIND OF EXAMPLE AM I?"

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O year by year we well may be
Deep exercised in soul to see
Just what is chaff and what is wheat,
As valued at the Judgment Seat.
Look back-we only render praise
For grace attending all our ways:
Look out upon the fields so white-
The needy harvest, just in sight.

Look up-the objects of God’s love
Are fed with manna from above;
Look on, for glory is in view,
And Jesus waits to welcome you.
How bright the coming days would be,
If only souls from self were free,
And had the mind and heart absorbed
With Christ above-their glorious Lord!