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      This sermon was preached by Pastor Keith Cardwell at Swift Presbyterian Church.

      Family and Faith: Young Adults
      1 Timothy 4:6–15
      Aug. 14, 2016

       Y OUNG ADULTS, HAVE YOU EVER FELT that the older church folks think you are too young to offer any leadership? If so, then Timothy might well be your patron saint.

      Timothy is left in charge of the church in Ephesus and is having a hard time. It seems the older folks in the church don’t respect him. They think he’s too young to lead. We don’t know Timothy’s exact age. The word implies a person under 30. In this letter, Paul supports and encourages Timothy. “Don’t let anyone despise you.” Don’t let anyone treat you unfairly. Don’t let them discount you because of your age.

       † † † 

      OLDER FOLKS HAVE A WAY of doing that — looking down on “those young people.” After all, we’ve lived a lot more life. We’ve attended more Bible studies and heard more sermons. We’ve been though ups and downs. We’ve earned our scars. We have war stories of struggle and survival. We, we have experience. Youth, you just think you know everything. You speak from dreams and naïveté, not real life.

      I understand that mature adults can be condescending to youth. I understand that young adults can feel disrespected. Older adults are warned in this letter not to judge someone based on age or we might miss God’s word and guidance for us. Younger people are encouraged not to settle for where they are but to grow in devotion to God.

       † † † 

      SO HOW DOES A PERSON follow Paul’s guidance? There are two things the apostle tells Timothy to do, and both are highlighted by two similarly sounding words: “let” and “set.” “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young.”

      Who of us can control the attitude or reaction of another? Do young adults declare, “If you look down on me, I’m going to bop you in the nose”? Paul does not mean, of course, that Timothy is to go around and take issue with anybody who does not like him. Neither does he mean for young folks to write off older adults as outdated and have nothing to offer.

      How do you make somebody else not do anything? Here’s how. My mom used to tell me, “Don’t give them any reason to talk about you.”

       † † † 

      WITH YOUR LIFE — by word, by demeanor, by love, by faith, by integrity — set an example for the believers. You matter now. You have something to contribute now to the body of Christ. Be an example of godliness, of commitment and love and faith and life.

      Some of you know Hailey Vanbrimmer. She is quite an athletic young girl. Among other things she plays baseball on an Elberta boys’ team. She faces taunts and ridicule from teams she hasn’t played against before. They disrespect her not because of her age but because of her gender. They make fun of her. They look down on her — that is, until she sets an example for them by being an awesome ball player. Ridicule often turns to admiration as they begin to see her as a girl consistently ranked as one of the best players in the league. Set an example for others.

       † † † 

      TRAIN YOURSELF TO BE GODLY. To be godly is to be devoted to God. Desiring God. Training is practice.

      I started training for another 100-mile bicycle ride in October. The Presbyterian Home for Children is sponsoring a ride that starts and finishes at the home. I watched some cycling during the Olympics. I read and reread articles on training, eating, and building endurance. But none of that has trained me to ride 100 miles. That has prepared me to train. I have ideas of how best to ride, to prepare, to eat, to exercise in order to ride as good as possible eight weeks from now.

      But to train, I have to practice what I’ve learned. I have to get on the bike. I have to ride. I have to ride regularly. I have to ride many miles. I have to get accustomed to sitting on that skinny seat for many hours. I have to do the daily work of training to ride 100 miles in a day.

       † † † 

      HOW DO YOUNG ADULTS SHOW their value? Train yourself in godliness. Read and study. Listen to others who are also training but put in the practice living the Christian faith. Work out your faith. Train your ministry muscles. Allow others to guide you. It helps to train with someone else. Timothy has been traveling with Paul for 10–12 years. He’s been mentored by a man of great faith. Be diligent, deliberate, give yourself wholly to your training in godliness.

      The benefit is everyone sees your progress. Everyone sees your growth. Everyone sees your focus. Don’t let them look down on you and think you have nothing to offer in church leadership. The point is not: Find out what older people want and give it to them so they don’t discount you. The point is: Find out what kind of words and conduct God wants and do that.

      ● Practice, practice, practice.
       Train, train, train.
       Practice your conduct.
       Practice your behavior.
      ● Practice your speech. Not just what you say but how you live.

      The way for young people — for any of us — not to be looked down on is train in God’s standards of love and faith and purity. In that way, you become an example to others.

      –– Keith Cardwell     

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      23208 Swift Church Road
      Foley, AL 36535
      Phone: (251) 943-8367
      email: swiftpc@gulftel.com