1 Timothy 4:12 (NIV)
12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.
I want to take some time to talk to the youth today and probably not the way that you think. Many of us who are young love to quote 1 Timothy 4:12 where it says “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young,” but many of us when we quote it we stop there. It’s very easy to use this scripture in a haughty way. It’s easy to say something and when it is not recieved by our elders going “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young.” The thing I would like to point out is that there is a key part of the verse that comes after the young part and that there is a way that God wants us to walk so that our elders do respect what we say. The second half of 1 Timothy 4:12 is “but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” this is a vital part of 1 Timothy 4:12.
People who are older have lived a long time and have experienced many things first hand and no matter how much you have experienced or how much you know about God it’s important to remember that respect from our elders is earned it’s not a right. There is a part of us that will always be younger to them but if we walk in the way that God calls us to walk then earning that respect is not hard to do.
In 1 Peter 5:5-6 it says “5 In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,
“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”
The answer to how to earn the respect from not only our elders but our peers is humility. We are all called to be servants to one another and in order to be a servant we must first be humble. The reason why we are looked down on as younger people is because we don’t know how to walk in humility and we don’t know how to have self control. We need to first respect our elders, we need to pray and ask God to help us know when to speak and when not to speak, what to say and what not to say to our elders. Respecting our elders in the Lord is an important part of 1 Timothy 4:12. My parents have always taught me to respect my elders: learning to listen to them, don’t be quick to speak, be polite,and trust God to bring you up. A godly adult will see in God’s time that His hand is on us. You don’t have to prove yourslef by talking too much or even too little. If we treat our elders the way we would like them to treat us then in God’s time they will. I urge all of us who are younger to respect our elders by first asking God to give us humility and then asking Him to give us the wisdom to know when to speak and when to be silent. We are an example for our peers and by being an example to our peers we will earn the respect of our elders because they will see God’s hand on us. Remember to be humble in all you say and do. The attitude of our hearts speak volumes.