Olsen Park Church of Christ

“Be an Example”


Introduction.  (1 Timothy 4:12).  Each of us comes into contact with scores of people everyday. Even though many of these people may not be close to us, we communicate to them by our example.  At any moment our good (or bad example) can have an impact on co-worker, a class mate, a relative, a friend, a casual acquaintance, a spouse, or a child.

            Around the time I had children, my father gave me a poem that reads:

The Little Chap Who Follows Me

A careful man I want to be, a little fellow follows me;

I do not dare to go astray, for fear he’ll go the self-same way.

I cannot once escape his eyes, what ‘ere he sees me do he tries;

Like me he sayshe’s going to be, the little chap who follows me.

He thinks that I am good and fine, believes in every word of mine;

The base in me he must not see, the little chap who follows me.

I must remember as I go, through summer sun and winter’s snow,

I am building for the years to be that little chap who follows me.


            This morning I’d like for us to talk about this idea of setting an example.  We note in this text six areas in which Paul teaches us Timothy to set an example.  Let’s consider each of these to consider how we can do the same.

Preliminary Observations on Being Examples.

·         We must understand that not all examples are good  examples.   

o   We are only when we imitate Christ.  Paul told the Corinthians to imitate him as he strove to imitate Christ (1 Cor. 11:1).

o   We are to be “Imitators of Christ” (Philippians 2:1-8).

·         We must also understand that as Christians we are the only “Bible” that some people will ever read.  That is, our example will be the only thing which communicates any measure of truth to them.

o   Jesus taught that as His disciples we must let our light shine before men (Matt. 5:16).

o   Our lives must be a pattern of good works (Titus 2:1-10).


1.  “In Word” (1 Timothy 4:12a).  A Christian must guard the purity of his or her speech.

·         An unbridled tongue makes one’s religion useless (James 1:26).

·         The Lord hates three uses of the tongue (Prov. 6:16-19).

·         We must speak the “truth in love” (Eph. 4:15).  We must say the right things with the right attitude and motive.

·         We should speak what is fitting (Eph. 5:1-7).  We should talk about those things that are good for Christians to do and think.  The Christian who talks in ways that are different from the life he should live, sets a poor example.


2.  “In Conduct” (1 Timothy 4:12b).  If Jesus is to be our example, how was His conduct?

·         Jesus’ conduct was sinless (1 Pet. 2:21-24; Hebrews 4:15).  We will never attain sinless ness, but neither should we have conduct that is tolerant of sin in our lives.

·         Christians must be separate from the world (2 Corinthians 6:11-18).

·         We must have no fellowship with works of darkness (Ephesians 5:8-14).  The text tells us these things are “unfruitful.”  Christians expose the dangers of these things.  They do not practice them.


3.  “In Love” (1 Timothy 4:12c).  The Bible gives us not only the best example of love, but some important commands regarding love.

·         The best example of love, is God’s love (John 3:16).  We can’t give Jesus for the world, but we can follow that example of sacrificial love for other.

·         Love is the greatest command (Matt. 22:37-40).  We are to love God and others.

·         Jesus teaches us that love is defined my obedience: “If you love Me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

·         Christians must love: strangers (James 2:8-9); brethren (1 John 3:14-18); Family (Eph. 5:25 – husbands to wives; Titus 2:4 – wives to husbands).


4.  “In Spirit” (1 Timothy 4:12d).  Man has within him a spirit that is distinct from his fleshly body that is eternal in nature.  Scripture often speaks of the spirit as it manifests our internal attitude and disposition.

·         Jesus taught that we must worship God in spirit and truth (John 4:24).  It is not enough to do the right things with an improper attitude.

·         Christians must not be arrogant, rude people, but be “clothed with humility” (1 Peter 5:5-10).

·         This humility is not a spirit of fear or timidity (2 Timothy 1:6-7).

·         Rather, this is a spirit of humble confidence  (Hebrews 4:16).


5.  “In Faith” (1 Timothy 4:12e).  It might seem odd that faith is mentioned here, in that it is almost assumed that a Christian will have faith.  Yet having faith is not the same as being an example in faith.

·         As Christians we must recognize without faith we cannot please God (Hebrews 11:6).

·         We realize that our faith comes from the word (Rom. 10:17).  This is not opinion or desire.  It is not intuition or imagination.  It is a faith built on the revelation of God to man.

·         But this faith effects everything.  It leads us to live as a “living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1-5).

·         Our faith should set us apart from the world.  We don’t hope for and strive for the things the world does.  Faith is our foundation.  Faith is our focus.


6.  “In Purity” (1 Timothy 4:12f).  There is so much evil in this world that can easily dominate and captivate our thoughts.  Evil thoughts corrupt our minds and spill over into our lives in what we do and say.

·         Instead as Christians we must meditate on pure things (Philippians 4:8),

·         Paul told Timothy to keep himself pure (1 Timothy 5:22).

·         Jesus taught that we must strive to be perfect or complete in our lives (Matthew 5:42-48).  We must not allow ourselves to be content with lives that are marred by sinful thoughts and behavior. 

·         We are to keep ourselves “unspotted from the world” (James. 1:26-27).  Only then can we be the kind of example to those around us that we should.


Conclusion.  Let us each work to be the kind of example to those around us that God would have us to be in each of the areas we have considered this morning.

Kyle Pope 2010

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