Rewind to 10 years ago. What would you do differently?
Many of us would love to go back in time to change things. We would love to direct the steps of our younger selves. If we could, we would walk one step ahead of our younger selves and warn them about the road bumps up ahead and the pot holes that are guaranteed to cause damage. There are a million things we would tell our younger selves to protect them. We would try our best to save them from what we know will cause years of pain. Knowing what we know now, we would plead with them to choose differently. We would redirect them. We would do all that we could to help them find another route, a better route. Unfortunately, we don’t have that luxury. We can’t go back. We can’t rewind. It’s not an option. But thankfully, there is a bright side…
You may not be able to go back in time, but there are plenty of younger you’s walking around. They are right in front of you. Here’s your chance to love them, to be there, to point them to Christ. Will you choose to walk with them through life here?
Paul followed Jesus’ example in pouring his life into his younger brothers. Paul writes to Timothy, his “true child in the faith” and describes what he was to what Christ had made him. Paul is a great example for us of how to live in light of eternity, prodding our brothers and sisters to love our Lord Jesus and serve Him more and more.
“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever.”
1 Timothy 1:12-17
We have been given the great opportunity to disciple and mentor younger believers in the faith. Many may think this means they must be perfect, but that’s just not the case. It’s clear that Paul gave all of the glory to the Lord Jesus Christ for saving him from who he was. And Paul made it clear to Timothy – Jesus Christ was Lord of his life. Let’s follow Paul’s example.
Be real. Paul described himself as the foremost of all sinners. He didn’t see himself as a great leader who was above all others. He was aware of who he was – a sinner saved by the grace of Christ Jesus. Just like Paul, we, too, are sinners. As we commit to loving and teaching our younger brothers and sisters, we need to be honest. There’s no difference between us and them. We are all the same. We are all children of the King who were bought with a price. We’ve all been redeemed. The Lord, our King, deserves all the glory forever and ever.
“In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following. But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance. For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.”
1 Timothy 4:6-10
It’s not about you; it’s all about Him. Paul always kept an eternal perspective. He always reminded Timothy that all of the work that he was doing was for a greater purpose. What we do now all matters, which we will see in the life to come. We must never forget to remind our younger brothers and sisters why we are here. We must encourage them to pursue godliness because it is profitable for all things. Jesus Christ, our Lord, is who we must fix our eyes on, as we walk through this life, knowing that He is Savior.
“Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.”
1 Timothy 4:12
Don’t let the cycle end. Paul did a great job of reminding Timothy of who he was. He wrote to Timothy encouraging him to remember all that he knew and to hold on to the faith he had in Jesus Christ. Paul spoke truth to Timothy. We must do the same. Our younger brothers and sisters need to be encouraged with the Word of God. They need to be reminded of who they are and whose they are. And they must continue the cycle of discipleship. It doesn’t end with them. Encourage them to be an example to those coming up after them.
Discipleship is simple, but it carries weight. It is our responsibility to use our testimonies to help others through life. Paul invested time into Timothy. Their relationship wasn’t just a casual one. Paul loved Timothy deeply and did what it took to be a great example of a man of God to him.
What will it take for you to love the “younger you” who is walking around aimlessly? You see that they are about to take a wrong turn, but do you choose to help? You know that they’ve already experienced seasons of hurt; will you encourage them in the Lord and point them to their Savior? Great joy comes in walking through life with a younger brother or sister in Christ. Great joy comes in rerouting a younger brother or sister to love the Lord Jesus wholeheartedly. Ask the Lord who your Timothy is.