Read 1 Timothy 4
Paul trusted Timothy with the task of refuting some of the most aggressive and deeply embedded false teachers in Ephesus. Paul had battled their pagan influences during his time in the city. Ephesus was not a place where people met rationally on the steps of public buildings to listen to teachers with an open mind. The city was full of trouble-makers (Acts 19).
There are two things Paul tells Timothy to do, and both are highlighted by two similarly sounding words. “Don’t LET anyone look down on you because you are young, but SET an example for the believers…”
Paul does not mean, of course, that Timothy is to take offense with anybody who doesn’t like him. He means, rather, that Timothy is to be concerned and aware of how he comes across to people; he is to be sensitive to how others see him.
Paul says by setting a good example in two areas–speech and conduct–three qualities ought to come through: love, faithfulness, and purity. These are the things that should characterize all of God’s people – loving, faithful, and pure in speech and behavior.
Lord, in my speech and in my conduct teach me to be loving, faithful, and pure in the presence of my aggressors!
— Jonathan Rasch