You, Timothy, certainly know what I teach, and how I live, and what my purpose in life is. You know my faith, my patience, my love, and my endurance. You know how much persecution and suffering I have endured. 2 Timothy 3:10-11
On the face of it, this might sound like Paul is bragging, but he knew how crucial personal example was. He has just informed Timothy of the challenges he may face and of the way in which society is going to become more and more ungodly and destructive. If Timothy is going to survive, let alone thrive, he will need to be a very effective teacher, but also have a life that backed that teaching up. It’s interesting that Paul begins these verses by referencing his teaching. That was crucial. In these letters, Paul repeatedly pointed to the vital importance of sound teaching. But no Christian teacher will ever have an impact if their life does not back their teaching up.
Paul never claimed to be perfect and, indeed, was often keen to point out the extent of his sinfulness. But he knew that, amid all his failures, he had offered Timothy an example which was well worth copying.
Let me get personal for a moment. Your life is observed by other people whether you know it or not – and whether you like it or not. They are drawing conclusions about the Christian life from the way in which you live. If you, like Paul, were talking to a young Christian and trying to encourage them, what aspects of your life do you think are worth copying?
Perhaps write these things down as a list, and talk them through with a trusted friend. Let’s be clear: this is absolutely the opposite of an exercise in egotism. This is about finding ways in which your life can serve God by setting an example to others.
Could you make a list of at least three things about your life which could be a good example to others?
Lord God, help me to set a good example for others so that they may be strengthened by my life. Amen