I have the honor of co-teaching a 12th grade girls core group (small group) at on church on Sunday nights. The other night, we had some really good discussion that I thought I would pass along to you. Our verse for discussion for this particular week was 1 Timothy 4:12 “Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” I am sure each of you has heard this verse over and over. It seems to be the theme verse of every student ministry out there! It’s like an anthem of sorts where youth all over the world can raise their fists and proudly proclaim, “I am young. Don’t judge me!” Well, we chose to break it down a little and see what the verse really means. There is a bit to go over here so I am going to break it into 2 posts.
- “Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young…”
This seems to be where students place the main emphasis on this verse. It’s a good “stopping place” for most people. It gives us an excuse to be young and to make mistakes. It makes us feel protected against judgment from older people from things like running through the sanctuary, chewing gum during church, wearing a hat in the building, drawing on all the tithe envelopes, and whispering during the sermon. We’re young, right? That’s just what we do. It’s who we are. It’s how we roll. It’s our “Stick it to the man” approach to living.
…Time for an English lesson! This is called a “conjunction”. A conjunction is “Any member of a small class of words distinguished in many languages by their function as connectors between words, phrases, clauses, or sentences” (Thank you, dictionary.com) this is a small, but VERY important word when reading- especially when reading the bible! This three-letter word can totally change the meaning behind a verse when one actually gives it the credit and attention it deserves! So, having said all that, what is the actual definition of “but”? But (conj): “On the contrary; yet”. Ooookay. Now lets do a little cutting and pasting… “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, on the contrary…” It seems as though Paul (the writer of 1 Timothy) is saying, “yeah, you’re young…but regardless…” Let’s see what he has to say “on the contrary”.