The Apostle Paul’s letters to his younger disciple Timothy have been on my mind a lot in recent months. In this episode, I want to ponder and explore a selection from the first epistle to Timothy.
1 Timothy 4:12-16 reads,
“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
As for many young Christians, this passage has been an encouragement to me since my late teens and early twenties. And it reminds me of Elihu from the book of Job.
And Elihu Answered
In Job 32:1-6, we find this gem.
“So these three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. Then Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, burned with anger. He burned with anger at Job because he justified himself rather than God. He burned with anger also at Job’s three friends because they had found no answer, although they had declared Job to be in the wrong. Now Elihu had waited to speak to Job because they were older than he. And when Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouth of these three men, he burned with anger.
And Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite answered…”
I would encourage you to read the totality of Elihu’s remarks in Job. And see if you can find in what follows them when God steps into the narrative to answer Job any rebuke of Elihu for all of what he says or how he comports himself. I could not when I was a young Christian man, married with children in my early twenties a decade-and-a-half ago.
That is why Lauren and I named our second son Elihu.
The example of Elihu taken together with what Paul tells Timothy, we find that older men are not always wiser for their years. And younger men not only can serve as a good example to all – including older men. They ought to – in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity.
This can lead to conflict. And sometimes when older men feel threatened or challenged by younger men – even just by their example – they act out in confusing and irrational ways.
But this is all the more why we do well to heed the wisdom of Proverbs 22:1.
“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,
and favor is better than silver or gold.”
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