Overall we spoke on the first 1 Timothy 4:12, "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example to the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity."
My subjects were Speech and Life. This is (roughly) what I said about them. Well, actually, this is the long winded version, since I had to cut some things for time.
Setting an example to believers in speech starts with simply speaking. You may not necessarily be talking about God and religion. However, If you don’t say anything about being a Christian or about God we can’t expect anyone to hear it. Psalm 19:3 says "There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard." If no one had ever told me I could have a relationship with Christ I would have never known I could have one. I'm not sure how many of you are familiar with the talk show "Jimmy Kimmel Live", which is obviously not a Christian show at all, but it had a special episode after the series finale of Lost last week. In this show, he said something I found quite interesting...
I would hope everyone in this room knows that is not what Christianity is. The bible actually says that no one can get to the bible through works. There is no amount of good you can do to work your way to heaven. You can save lives, deliver babies, solve world hunger, and cure cancer, but at the end of the day there's only one thing that really matters. Have you asked Jesus to forgive your sins? If you have, then no matter how much, or how little good you do, you will be saved.
You have to have bravery to get out there and say that kind of thing to people though. It’s not always easy, like right now I wish I was in the back of the room putting up slides in my comfort zone. Because my comfort zone is, well, comfortable. But, God has not called us to be comfortable. As Christian we have to do hard things. And sometime the hard thing can be as simple as telling your friends about Christ. I have to wonder how it would have changed if anyone had ever told Jimmy Kimmel what Christians ACTUALLY believe? Now, maybe he would never have been saved, but what if he had said what we ACTUALLY believe, up there on national television, broadcasting to millions of people? A lot of good could have come out of that.
So now that we know we have to speak, what should we say? Does it mean we have to speak of Christ all the time? We all know that’s impossible. But a lot of the time, it's less about what we say, and more about what we don't say.
1 Peter 3:10 says “For whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech.”
We can't just be swearing and cursing, and making crude jokes left and right. How easy it is to write it off as "I'm just with my friends, I can say what I want. These guys know me." But we need to be careful all the time. Even people we know judge us by what we say when we are around them.
But, it’s more than that, you never know who else is listening. Speech is a big responsibility. As Humans, speech is our main way of expressing emotions and thoughts, from the simplest ones such as "I am hungry." to much more complex ones such as "I feel hurt because I feel what you did was betraying me, and I don't know if I can trust you any more." What you say, good or bad, people judge you by. And if you aren't swearing and aren't saying bad things then they will have a completely different impression of you, than if you are.
But more importantly, as Christians we need to think about how our speech represents Christ. If we have presented ourselves as believers in Christ people will be watching us and what we do will affect their impression of us. People will think of us as hypocrites, and by extension, all Christians as hypocrites if we say we believe one thing and speak another way.
I know this will shock absolutely everyone in the room but... I play a lot of video games. In fact, I've even been known to play some video games ONLINE. I know, it's shocking.
It took a long time for me to convince my parents to let me use voice chat in the video games I play, for obvious reasons. When I did finally get to do voice chat I felt a large responsibility to not speak in a way a Christians shouldn’t . No, I wasn’t waving a flag and telling everyone I was a Christian. In fact, a lot of them never knew for month, or even years that I was a Christian. However, over time I said things in simple conversations like “I can’t raid on Wednesday night I have church.” Right there it is. Everyone is trying to remember how I have spoken and how I have represented myself. Because I have made a point to be cautious about my speech several times I have actually had people I will never see in person ask me to pray for them.
But it works both ways. We have to set a good example in life, by acting in a way that reflects the way we say we will. I myself have run into many people who have said they were believers too, but not acted in a way that has impressed me. It upsets me when I hear speech like this, or see actions like that, from someone who claims to be a Christian.
One time I was playing World of Warcraft, and I was doing a raid (a group involving a large group of people.) Halfway through, one of the other players (a real person, mind you.) made some wisecrack about Jesus not being real. I privately messaged him and asked him not to joke about things like that. He proceeded, naturally, to yell at me, and rant at me, and yell every curse word he could think of at me, alongside calling me things like "Close minded idiot" and "Bigot" and other things along those lines. In the midst of his words of rage, he mentioned that he was "Just kidding, and believe in Jesus and God too." Could've fooled me. If that were my only example of Christianity, I sure wouldn't have a good impression about it.
Now, I'm not saying this guy wasn't a Christian. That's not for me to judge. That is between him and God. But you know what? I've had people in these same games tell me I was the only Christian they know. How about you? Maybe among your friends, you will be the only Christian influence their lives ever have? Are you setting a good one?
Psalms 119:105 says “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” God’s Word needs to not only guide us in how we should speak, but in how we should live.
Now, I'm not perfect. I certainly don't claim to be. No one is. The only one who's perfect is God. I've slipped up in speech. Everyone has at some point in their lives, said a curse word. I'm most certainly not a perfect example when it comes to setting an example in life. That's impossible. I've done something I said I wouldn't, and I've slipped up as a Christian many times. Everyone does. The point is to try harder.
In life we need to act like a Christian where ever we go. Following Christ is not just about coming to church. It’s about representing Christ wherever we go. This doesn’t mean we have to be serious and preachy all the time. Anyone who knows me knows I'm a big goofball. But there comes a time to be serious. There are people out there that are watching. They hear you say that you're a Christian, and they're just waiting to see you slip up, so they can say they were right and all Christians are hypocrites. So remember, people are watching. Even more importantly, remember, God is watching.