1 TIMOTHY 4:11-16 WALKING THE WALK
11 Command and teach these things. 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. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you.
15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.
There is a statement attributed to St. Francis that reads, “Preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary use words.” The power of this message is that we are called to be effective evangelists every day no matter our station in life. While formal teaching, preaching, drama outreach or written apologetics might take specific gifts, the living as an example of the Christian life takes nothing more than obedience. Indeed, the message of those particular activities is only as powerful as the authentic Christian life of the performers. So, St. Paul tells Timothy, who he has ordained as an overseer for the church in Ephesus, set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift. Here the setting of the example of the Christian life is the context within which our specific gift is to be exercised. The saying among YoungLife leaders was that you have to walk the walk before you can talk the talk.
Although we mostly focus on our ministry to those outside the Church when we make such statements about evangelism, they are equally valid for the sharing of the Gospel among our brothers and sisters in the Church, or even other family members. In fact, the true test of the integrity of our Christian life is how consistent we are at home. Our focus needs to be on the discipline of living an obedient life of love and service to others at all times. The gift that all of us have been given is the gift of Christ. Through the grace of God we have been given the way of reconciliation with God. That is a gift that we should not neglect, but rather exercise through diligent attention to our life and the Word of God.
As I learn more and more about your Word and will, O Lord, strengthen me to align my life more and more to what you are revealing to me. May my life be a reflection of your graciousness, love and righteousness in this world. Keep me from hiding behind excuses for not proclaiming the Gospel, and help me to do what I can do with your help, which is to live a life of obedient love. Amen.