Tuesday, March 21

Fully Competent

Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity. --1st Timothy 4:12

Earlier this week I was informed that I would not get to participate on one of my company's contracts because the client felt that I was too inexperienced to handle the complexity of the project. Although the project manager argued in my favor that I was fully competent and would be able to do excellent work, the client didn't budge. There are many situations where the ability to do a job and do it well depends on the accumulation of years spent performing that particular role. Although this is understandable, it can be frustrating or disappointing --as in my case with work. Fortunately, this principle doesn't apply to how qualified we are in our spiritual gifts or how effectively God can use us.

This is exactly the case with Timothy when he was sent out to teach the early church. God had uniquely gifted and equipped Timothy to be instrumental as a church leader. The only caveat was that he was younger than the leaders people were accustomed to following. The apostle Paul charged Timothy to set an example for the believers. This included speech, life, love, faith and purity--all at once! God must have blessed him with some very wonderful gifts to be so young yet competent enough to minister to the church.

Paul tells him to be an example in speech. He doesn't tell him that he has to wait until he has completed a full education that would give him powerful words to share; Timothy was to speak that words that God gave through the power of the Holy Spirit. To be an example in life, Timothy didn't need to experience every facet of life--he just needed to make sure that the life he was living was in accordance with God's commands. Paul didn't expect Timothy to begin his mission to the church until he had developed a profoundly deep faith or had plumbed the depths of the different aspects of love either. Like all of us, Timothy's faith was going to deepen daily by the things God taught Him and in turn his understanding of what it meant to extend Christ's love to those under his care would deepen as well.

The final example that Paul tells Timothy set is in the area of purity. I would imagine that this is particularly true because of Timothy's age. If young adults in the early church were even remotely similar to those who are members of the church today, purity is challenging. However, Paul is probably talking about much more than just avoiding sexual immorality. It is a lifestyle that a few generations ago would have called clean livin'. How does one do this? The Psalmist answers by saying that a young man can keep his way pure by living according to God's word. When it's put that way, setting an example in purity seems to encompass speech, life, faith and love as well.

Not all of us are called to ministry the way Timothy was. Likewise, not all of us have been given spiritual gifts that would be so public-facing in nature. Despite this reality we must set an example of a life consistent with a dynamic relationship with God. Sometimes that example will be seen by our fellow believers, but more often it will be those who are not Christians who will see us. Those people will not care how many years we have been in a relationship with God--what will matter is how that relationship affects our life in the present tense. No matter how God has equipped us, no matter where our calling lies, and no matter what age we are, God is carrying out His plan through us. What a blessing to know that God considers us fully competent for such important work!

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