Yesterday, we talked a little about the things we sometimes allow to get in the way of fulfilling our calling to be examples for other believers. Our basic conclusion was that we have no excuse for not setting a godly example for the people around us. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s look at exactly how we can be examples for other believers.
After telling us to set the example, Paul, very kindly, does not leave us hanging. He doesn’t say, “Hey, be a good example. You’ll figure out how.” No, he offers some specific areas in which we can set the standard for those who follow behind us. I want to take apart Paul’s advice and look at each area individually. But first, here’s a quick review:
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. ~I Timothy 4:12
I don’t know about you, but if someone gives me an instruction and walks away, I sometimes feel a little lost. I like to ask a few follow-up questions, just to make sure I’m about to go down the right path. So let’s look at area #1 and ask that most important of questions:
How, exactly, do we set an example for the believers (especially younger or newer believers) in our speech?
When it comes to what’s coming out of our mouths, the key is to listen!!
Let’s listen to what we talk about:
- Is what I’m saying gossip or legitimate concern?
- Is what I’m saying a lie or the complete truth told in love?
- Is what I’m saying inappropriate or appropriate for my audience?
- Is what I’m saying tearing someone down or encouraging her heart?
Let’s listen to how we talk:
- Is my tone of voice harsh or gentle?
- Am I speaking out of selfish anger or godly anger?
- Do I sound jealous or genuinely happy about someone else’s fortune?
- Do I sound happy about or genuinely sorry for someone else’s misfortune?
If we stop before we open our mouths and ask ourselves a few questions, we are well on our way to setting a good example for others in our speech. Like mom always said, “Think before you speak.” And if you don’t have time to do a full speech inventory, just ask yourself this one question: “Will the words coming out of my mouth honor God?” The answer to that one question can make all the difference in the world.
How do you keep a rein on your tongue? Who in your life has set a good example for you in the area of speech?