1 Timothy 4:12
Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity,
in spirit, [not
in text] in faith, in purity.
God wants young people (and all believers) to walk His Word and to be examples to others. Timothy was a young believer who was also a leader of God's people. The Apostle Paul wrote God's Word to him about how he should walk as an example of a believer.
Timothy was not to allow anyone to think badly of him because of his youth. Yes, he was young; but he was a man of God walking on God's Word. In contrast (to others thinking badly of him), Timothy was to walk as an example of the believers.
An example is a sample. Did you ever demonstrate how to do something for someone or complete a sample question before taking a test? A sample or an example is provided of the correct way to do something. God wants us to be examples of how to be believers. 1 Timothy 4:12 lists five areas in which a person can walk as an example of a believer. They are (1) in word, (2) in conversation, (3) in charity, (4) in faith, and (5) in purity. (The words "in spirit" should not be in this verse as they were not in the original text.)
An example of the believers "in word."
First of all we are to be examples of believers because of our knowledge of God's Word. According to 2 Peter 1:3, the Word of God contains "...all things that pertain unto life and godliness." When we know God's Word and speak it to others we become an example "in word."
2 Timothy 2:15
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
You cannot speak and live God's Word until you know God's Word. You must read, study, and rightly divide the word of truth if you are going to be an example "in word."
1 Thessalonians 1:6-8
And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost:
So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.
For from you sounded out [echoed] the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.
The believers in Thessalonica received God's Word and then spoke it to others exactly as they had heard it. The word "echoed" out from them perfectly so that the Apostle Paul could say "we need not to speak any thing." They were examples of the believers "in word" as they spoke the same Word of God that was spoken to them.
An example of the believers "in conversation."
The word "conversation" means behavior. Once you know God's Word you can be an example of how to behave like a believer. When you behave according to God's Word you become an example of a believer "in conversation."
That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.
Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
Neither give place to the devil.
Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you with all malice:
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
God's Word always provides us with the correct way to behave. When God tells us we are wrong He also tells us how to behave correctly. Stop lying - speak the truth. Stop stealing - work. Stop the rotten talk and speak words that build others up. Our speech is to minister grace. We are to be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving. When you behave according to God's Word you are an example of the believers "in conversation."
An example of the believers "in charity."
The Greek word translated "charity" is agapao which means "the love of God in action." A believer has the love of God inside. God's love is pure giving. The love of God does not wait for others to be worthy of being loved.
John 13:4-5, 12-15
He [Jesus Christ] riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.
After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples; feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. . . .
So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?
Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet.
For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
In the Bible lands and times the lowest servant was given the job of washing the feet of the Master's guests. People wore sandals and the roads were dirt. When someone visited a home the servant would wash the dirt from the visitor's feet. Jesus Christ provided an example of loving service to his disciples by washing their feet. Love is service. It is giving. When you serve others out of the love of God within you are an example of the believers "in charity."
An example of the believers "in faith."
The word "faith" means "believing." Believing is trusting God's Word to be true and acting on what it says. When you believe what God says and act upon it, you receive what God promises.
1 Thessalonians 2:13
For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
1 Thessalonians 1:8
For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.
God's Word effectually worketh in you when you believe it. It produces results! As we walk the Word and hold it forth we are examples of the believers "in faith."
And example of the believers "in purity."
The world is an evil place because the Devil is the god of this world. We belong to the true God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. We do not have to get entangled in the evil of this world. To be an example in purity you must keep yourself uncontaminated even though living in a contaminated world.
I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
We are sanctified (set apart) from the evil in this world by the word of God. We live in this world but we are not of this world. We have been separated from the evil in this world.
1 John 3:2-3
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
We are able to keep ourselves pure from the contamination in the world by keeping our eyes on the hope of Christ's return. We are the sons of God and we will be like Jesus Christ when he returns. Keeping this hope in our minds keeps us pure. As you walk in light of the hope of Christ's return you are an example of the believers "in purity."
When we believed God's Word as written in Romans 10:9-10 we became children of God. Now that we are sons of God we have a responsibility to walk as examples of the believers. We are examples in word as we study and hold forth God's Word. We are examples in conversation as we renew our minds and behave according to God's Word. We are examples in charity as we serve one another out of the love of God in our hearts. We are examples in faith as we act on God's Word and receive the results of our believing. We are examples in purity as we keep our eyes on the hope of Christ's return and do not get entangled in the evil of this world.