“Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all the believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith and your purity.” – 1 Timothy 4:12
A lot of Christians think this verse is some kind of general verse for all young people. They think that young people are automatically entitled to not be looked down on by older people simply because the bible says so. The bible says no such thing.
This bible verse written by Paul is not for all young people. It is written specifically to a young man named Timothy. Any other young person wishing to take part in Timothy’s entitlement to not be looked down on because of his age must also take part in the other instructions that Paul writes in this passage. Later in the verse, Paul tells Timothy to “be an example” in what he says and the way he lives his life. A few sentences later, Paul tells Timothy to keep a close watch on how he lives and to stay true to what is right.
Any young person who wishes to take part in Timothy’s entitlement to not be looked down on because of his age must also take part in Timothy’s burden of being an example to everyone of all ages. This doesn’t have to be a stressful or complicated burden. But it does require an acknowledgment that God has called you to be an example here and now. God’s plans for you are not tomorrow somewhere else. They are today wherever you are. And if you step up to the plate and set an example for those around you, you are fully justified in taking for yourself Timothy’s entitlement to ignore anyone who looks down on you because of your age.