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.
It struck me just now that this verse could be amplified to read, “because you are young, or old, or a woman, or a foreigner, or for any other reason.” Timothy happened to be young, but the rest of the verse would apply equally to everyone. The NIV says, “look down on you,” but the Japanese expresses it as, “look at you lightly,” which is to say, not take you seriously. The flip side of this is that we aren’t to be dismissive of anyone, but understand that God can use whomever He pleases. Every believer in Jesus Christ should strive to be an example to others in the ways mentioned here. Otherwise, how is anyone going to know we are Christians? I’m brought back to the thought question I was reminded of recently: If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you? There’s another small difference between the NIV and the Japanese that catches my attention. Where the NIV says, “in life,” the Japanese says, “in attitude.” That puts a little bit more of a point on it. Our attitude indeed colors our whole life. If our attitude is, “God’s got good stuff for me and I want to get it,” that’s not necessarily bad, but how is it different from non-believers around us, except that we’ve inserted God into the mix? Instead, our attitude should be, “God loved me enough to send His Son to die for me, and that deserves every bit of my gratitude and obedience.” If we live like that, the world will be impacted!
This is as challenging to me as it is to anyone. At 70, I’m certainly more likely to be dismissed because I’m old than because I’m young, and being a Caucasian in Japan can be a reason for not being taken seriously. Regardless, I am to live an exemplary life, in front of believers and non-believers alike. That is what will draw them to Christ. Our recent Thanksgiving dinner was a good example of that. 2/3 of those present were not Christians, and I think they were impressed by what they saw (and ate!). After 37 years here in Omura, I don’t think we have any human enemies. We have been remarkably well accepted. That said, there haven’t been very many who have committed themselves to Christ, and I think it comes from a fundamental lack of understanding of accountability and eternal judgment. They don’t believe they need to be saved. Just recently I was talking with one of our strongest members, and she said that Japanese have a very hazy concept of the devil and of hell. That’s probably why suicide seems like an attractive way out of difficulty for them. I need to seek the Lord for wisdom to express spiritual realities in ways that people will understand and accept, so that they too may repent and believe for their salvation.
Father, thank You for this reminder. I am constantly frustrated by how people seem to accept us, but still don’t accept Christ. (John 13:20) Thank You for what You did at the dinner Sunday night. I pray that the seed planted then would indeed bear abundant fruit, bringing real breakthrough for Your kingdom, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!