1Ti 4:10-12 “For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. These things command and teach. Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”
Paul’s counsel in the previous verses has been that we should exercise ourselves unto godliness and shun foolish stories (1Tim 4:7). It is to this end that we labor. The Greek word translated as labor here does not simply mean to work, but to work to the point of fatigue (see Strong’s). This is not something to be lightly pursued, but rather that we must put our whole being into.
When we labor hard at something, we usually hope to see that work appreciated by those around us. Paul paints a very different picture of this labor. Our labor in the truth is tied to reproach. We can expect to be ridiculed in our labor for the cause of Christ.
The very fact that we trust in the living God is hard on the carnal man (flesh). There is a warfare within us because we trust in God. Externally, we are mocked and reproached for the same reason. The song “Just As I Am” contains a line that says “fightings and fears, within; without:” this is the condition we often find ourselves in.
Why would we desire to put ourselves in this position? We do so because we trust in the living God and in His promise for our life today and in the days to come. We are witnesses to the truth that, even in our labor and reproach, He will never leave us of forsake us. In the very core of our being, we understand that this is indeed a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.
We trust in the living God who is the Savior of all men. He saves both the Jew and the Gentile. This is a work that He does through Jesus Christ, without help and without fail (Heb 1:3). How is it, then, that there is a salvation “specially to those that believe?”
Our belief does not gain us access to our eternal home. However, being blessed by God to believe in His promises saves us in our daily walk with Him. It saves us from doubt and despair: it saves us to joy, love, and peace in the Holy Ghost. We are wondrously blessed to know that God is our Savior while we labor here.
In spite of the labor involved and the reproach that comes with it, we are to be faithful to command and teach the truth of God. We are to command (declare) these things with our mouth and teach them with our actions. This is something we can do regardless of our age. We should rejoice when we see young people living a life of love for God and His church.
Paul did not instruct that we be examples “to” believers, but rather that we be examples “of” believers. We are to show to all around us (whether they are believers or not) what a believer looks like. We demonstrate our belief in the way that we speak (in word) and in the way we behave (in conversation). Our belief should demonstrate our Godly love, our disposition, our reliance on Christ, and our righteous living in Him.
May we who are blessed to know God our Savior always be an example of the believers to everyone we meet!