6 Paul wrote to Timothy: “Become an example to the faithful ones in speaking, in conduct, in love, in faith, in chasteness.” Paul added: “Ponder over these things; be absorbed in them, that your advancement may be manifest to all persons.” (1 Tim. 4:12, 15) This advancement had to do with Timothy’s spiritual qualities rather than with any position of authority. This is the kind of advancement that every Christian should want to manifest.
Become an Example in Speaking
8. What impact does our speech have on our worship?
8 One of the areas in which Timothy was to set an example was in his speaking. How can we make our advancement manifest in that area? Our speech says much about us. Jesus aptly noted: “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matt. 12:34) Jesus’ half brother James also recognized the impact that our speech can have on our worship. He wrote: “If any man seems to himself to be a formal worshiper and yet does not bridle his tongue, but goes on deceiving his own heart, this man’s form of worship is futile.”—Jas. 1:26.
9. In what ways should our speech be exemplary?
9 Our speech can reveal to others in the congregation the degree to which we have progressed spiritually. Accordingly, instead of using speech that is undignified, negative, critical, or hurtful, mature Christians strive to build up, comfort, console, and encourage. (Prov. 12:18; Eph. 4:29; 1 Tim. 6:3-5, 20) Our readiness to discuss our moral convictions with others and to speak out in defense of God’s lofty standards can reveal our devotion to God. (Rom. 1:15, 16) Righthearted ones will surely observe how we use the gift of speech and may follow our example.—Phil. 4:8, 9.
Exemplary in Our Conduct and Chasteness
10. Why is faith without hypocrisy vital to our spiritual advancement?
10 More than upbuilding speech is needed for a Christian to be a good example. Saying the right things without doing the right things would make one a hypocrite. Paul was well-acquainted with the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and the damaging result of their course. More than once, he cautioned Timothy against such insincerity and pretense. (1 Tim. 1:5; 4:1, 2) But Timothy was not a hypocrite. In his second letter to Timothy, Paul wrote: “I recollect the faith which is in you without any hypocrisy.” (2 Tim. 1:5) Still, Timothy needed to make his genuineness as a Christian manifest to others. He was to be an example in conduct.
11. What did Paul write to Timothy about riches?
11 In his two letters to Timothy, Paul provided exhortation on several areas of conduct. For instance, Timothy was to avoid the pursuit of riches. Paul wrote: “The love of money is a root of all sorts of injurious things, and by reaching out for this love some have been led astray from the faith and have stabbed themselves all over with many pains.” (1 Tim. 6:10) The love of riches is a sign of spiritual deficiency. In contrast, Christians who find contentment in a simple life, “having sustenance and covering,” manifest spiritual advancement.—1 Tim. 6:6-8; Phil. 4:11-13.
12. How can we make our advancement manifest in our personal life?
12 Paul mentioned to Timothy how important it was for Christian women to “adorn themselves in well-arranged dress, with modesty and soundness of mind.” (1 Tim. 2:9) Women who are modest and sound in mind in their choice of dress and grooming, as well as in other areas of their personal life, set excellent examples. (1 Tim. 3:11) This principle applies to Christian men too. Paul admonished overseers to be “moderate in habits, sound in mind, orderly.” (1 Tim. 3:2) When we display these qualities in our daily activities, our advancement will be made manifest to all.
13. Like Timothy, how can we be examples in chasteness?
13 Timothy was to be exemplary also in chasteness. In using this term, Paul was alluding to a very specific area of conduct, that of sexual morality. Especially in Timothy’s dealings with women was his conduct to be above reproach. He was to treat “older women as mothers, younger women as sisters with all chasteness.” (1 Tim. 4:12; 5:2) Even acts of immorality that might seem to be secret are known to God and are certain to become known to fellow humans eventually. But it is also true that a Christian’s fine works cannot be kept hidden. (1 Tim. 5:24, 25) All in the congregation have the opportunity to make their advancement manifest in conduct and chasteness.
Love and Faith Essential
14. How do the Scriptures emphasize the need for having love among ourselves?
14 A major aspect of true Christianity is love. Jesus told his disciples: “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.” (John 13:35) How do we manifest such love? God’s Word entreats us to put up “with one another in love,” to “become kind to one another, tenderly compassionate, freely forgiving one another,” and to be hospitable. (Eph. 4:2, 32; Heb. 13:1, 2) “In brotherly love have tender affection for one another,” wrote the apostle Paul.—Rom. 12:10.
15. Why is love vital for all, especially Christian overseers?
15 If Timothy had been harsh or unkind in dealing with his fellow Christians, that could have neutralized the good he accomplished as a teacher and an overseer. (Read 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.) On the other hand, Timothy’s expressions of genuine affection for his brothers, accompanied by acts of hospitality and good works in their behalf, surely highlighted his spiritual advancement. It was fitting, then, that in his letter to Timothy, the apostle Paul specifically mentioned love as one of the qualities in which Timothy was to be exemplary.
16. Why did Timothy need to display strong faith?
16 During his stay in Ephesus, Timothy’s faith was put to the test. Certain ones were promoting doctrines that were not in harmony with Christian truth. Others were spreading “false stories” or researching ideas that contributed nothing to the congregation’s spirituality. (Read 1 Timothy 1:3, 4.) Paul described such individuals as being “puffed up with pride, not understanding anything, but being mentally diseased over questionings and debates about words.” (1 Tim. 6:3, 4) Could Timothy risk toying with the harmful ideas that were infiltrating the congregation? No, for Paul urged Timothy to “fight the fine fight of the faith” and turn away “from the empty speeches that violate what is holy and from the contradictions of the falsely called ‘knowledge.’” (1 Tim. 6:12, 20, 21) There can be no doubt that Timothy followed Paul’s wise advice.—1 Cor. 10:12.
17. How may our faith be put to the test today?
17 Interestingly, Timothy was told that in “later periods of time some [would] fall away from the faith, paying attention to misleading inspired utterances and teachings of demons.” (1 Tim. 4:1) All in the congregation, including those in positions of responsibility, need to be like Timothy in displaying strong, unwavering faith. By taking a strong stand and decisive action against apostasy, we can make our advancement manifest and be an example in faith.