Perhaps the best, and most overused verse of the Bible for teens is 1 Timothy 4:12. This verse is directed toward Timothy who wasn’t actually as young as we assume. The important thing to remember about this verse is that though it may no be aimed directly at teens, it is from the bible and applies to everyone.
1 Timothy 4:12 — 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.
This verse starts out with an uplifting message: don’t let people look down on you. You should be aware of that. It means that you can be a big part of God’s work here and now. You don’t have to wait to be 20 to start talking to your friends about Jesus, or worship God fully, or even preach to crowds about the good news. This is huge, especially for teens. It means you are a crucial part of God’s kingdom right now.
This doesn’t mean that you can start preaching to your church right away. The second part of the verse tells us what we need to be like in order to get to the stage where we can do these awesome things. We need to have a God-like mind by acting right, and thinking right. Paul tells Timothy that his responsibility is to be an example to all believers, not just those believers in his age group, or among his friends, or to the world, but to all believers.
The first way we do this is through speech. Jesus said that it is “what comes out of the mouth” that “defiles a man.” This makes sense. If you are always talking about sex, and violence like it is a cool thing you are not encouraging Godly things, but worldly things. Also if you are insulting people left, and right you are not showing the love of God, but spreading hurt, fear, and lies.
Next Paul says that we must be an example in our conduct. This is also common sense. We shouldn’t be beating people up all the time, or stealing, or going out of our way to be annoying. This is contrary to the will of God. These two things are a huge way that we are different than everyone else. When you friends are picking on someone, you should not join in. When all of your friends are pirating the coolest show you shouldn’t, it isn’t the Godly way of life.
One of Jesus’ ultimate goals is to love everyone. Both of what Jesus calls the greatest commandments are about love:
Mark 12:30-31 — ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
This is the third responsibility that we have as Christians. We are called to love. This involves loving God, and loving others. Love the members of your church, your drunk uncle, your annoying classmate, your friends, and even your enemies. If we don’t understand how to love how can we understand a God who loves us so much that he would sacrifice his own son for us.
We must also show our faith. We have to be able to trust God with our problems. That is the only way that we can reach our potential as Christians. 1 John 5:5 says that the only one who can overcome the world (drugs, unbelief, hate) is “the one who believes that Jesus is the son of God. If you don’t have faith how can you take an active role in the kingdom of God. That would be like joining the army even though you don’t think there is anyone commanding that army.
The last, but definitely not least, trait that Paul mentions is purity. Your “bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.” This is what your body is meant for. Not drugs, and swearing, and sexual immorality. God is in you, and you represent Him for others. There should not be any of these un-pure things dirtying that image.
Here is our manifesto as Christian teens:
We are Christian teens, and we can take an active role in God’s work because we are examples to others through our speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity.