The Light of the Next Generation

“Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” I Timothy 4:12

     Paul’s instructions to a young man named Timothy are a needed call to action for our young people today. The Lord’s church needs young adults to step up. The work of the Lord is not restricted to the middle-aged and those who are “over-the-hill.” Granted, Timothy himself was a preacher, by trade. While he may have applied Paul’s instruction in a different context, the basic directions apply to every young person in the Lord’s church. In Matthew 5:16, Jesus said, “Your light must shine before people in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Let us consider how the next generation can let their light shine.

     Realize that you can be an example. We often think of older people serving as an example for younger people, and that is certainly necessary. However, younger adults have a great potential to be an example to older generations, too. Don’t discredit yourself because of your age. Society sets pathetically low expectations for children and young adults. Sure the youth has a lot to learn, and they generally lack the experience of those who have celebrated more birthdays. However, passages like I Timothy 4:12 and even Ephesians 6:1-3 encourage young people to hold themselves accountable and become an example for others, even at a young age. 

     In I Timothy 4:12, Paul goes on to explain how the next generation is able to be an example to the others. 

     Paul then follows up with a very practical habit in verse 13, “give your attention to the public reading, to exhortation, and teaching.” Again, Timothy happened to be a gospel preacher, and he would have specific responsibilities in regard to this instruction. Certainly, however, giving attention to Bible reading, both in Bible class and privately, is an essential part of any Christian's life. When you devote yourself to God, to reading His word, and to becoming the Christian that God wants you to be, your light shines as an example for all to see.