rebelling against low expectations

Setting an Example: Living Out 1 Timothy 4:12


One of the most motivating verses within the Rebelution community is 1 Timothy 4:12, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”

The part most focused on is the first part where we are encouraged not to let people’s low expectations surrounding our age hinder us from setting an example, but to instead, do hard things.

But the verse goes on to tell us five specific areas in which we should set an example. Let’s take a closer look at them.


Talking is a huge part of our lives. It’s our main method of communication, a way to inform each other and show emotions. Like with many things, there are right and wrong ways to use speech.

There are many people, including Christians, who use foul language. In our culture, stealing, lying, cheating, and almost every kind of sin has been normalized. Cursing is no different. But just because something has been normalized doesn’t mean it’s good. And as Christians we should live by a higher standard than the world. The Bible is very clear about this:

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2

The truth is, we can’t justify doing something wrong—even if it’s small—just because a friend, family member, or everyone we know is doing it. If suddenly everyone around you, including your parents and closest friends, decided that sin was okay, what would you do? We need to be willing to stop sinning for God, regardless of those around us.

The Bible also reminds us to be slow to speak and quick to listen:

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:” – James 1:19


The definition of conduct is “the manner in which a person behaves, especially on a particular occasion or in a particular context.”

So, in short, the way we act.

Are we always angry? Grumbling? Complaining? Are we ignorant? Arrogant? Rude? Can people tell, just by seeing you, that you are a Christian?

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” – Matthew 6:33

Our conduct, the way we act, should fall in with “seeking first the kingdom of God.” If we are truly seeking God, and not attention or the approval of others, our faith will affect our conduct and we will be less likely to sin.

If we are truly seeking God, and not attention or the approval of others, our faith will affect our conduct and we will be less likely to sin. Share on X

Our conduct is a very important aspect of how we set an example. We need to do our best to respect Christ’s example, without being prideful.


There are four kinds of love in the Bible.

The first is philia, brotherly love, or friendship. If it sounds familiar, it is because that’s where Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, gets its name. It is the most mentioned type of love in the Bible.

Eros is the romantic love we hear about all the time. The Bible reserves this kind of love for marriage.

Storge is familial love, the kind of love we have with parents, grandparents, siblings, and other members of our family.

Finally, there’s agape love—the perfect, unconditional love found only in Jesus. It’s the perfect love that saves us, and the kind we experience when we follow Christ. It’s this kind of love that we need to share with others so that they, too, will follow Him. One of the most well-known Bible verses shows us how Jesus demonstrated this kind of love:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

1 Timothy 4:12 encourages us to set an example in this agape love. Love that is selfless, sacrificial, and willing to serve others.


The Bible has a lot to say about faith. Depending on the version you’re reading, the word faith is mentioned as many as 521 times! It is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). While we may know what faith is, it’s an entirely different thing to actually have faith.

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, and he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” – Hebrews 11:6

In other words, you cannot please someone you do not know, and you cannot know someone you don’t believe exists.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9

The Bible tells us that real salvation only comes through Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. All we need to enter Heaven is real faith in Jesus. If we have this real faith, we will try our best to follow Him.

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17

As believers, we need to have a good understanding of faith. Faith isn’t faith if you must have tangible, physical proof. Unexpressed and unused faith isn’t real faith either. Faith isn’t just a belief you have, but rather a way of living.

If we have faith, it will make us bold and give us the courage to live and speak the truth of God to anyone and everyone we meet.

Faith gives us hope in an eternal future with God in heaven and gives us the desire to know and live out God’s Word here on earth. Share on X

Faith gives us hope in an eternal future with God in heaven and gives us the desire to know and live out God’s Word here on earth.


Purity, according to the Bible, means to be morally clean, without blemish. To be morally clean would be to abstain from all sin, and to follow Christ perfectly. Of course, no one can be completely pure on their own—the only human to ever be pure was Jesus. But if we are in Christ, God views us as pure through Christ’s precious blood.

Today, most people don’t give purity a second thought. It’s normal to wear very little clothing, watch sexually explicit movies, listen to inappropriate songs, or, like we discussed earlier, use impure words—but again, normal doesn’t mean right.

Purity is freedom from immorality. And that starts on the inside, with your heart and mind. Share on X

Purity, put simply, is freedom from immorality. And that starts on the inside, with your heart and mind.

Even though God forgives our impurity through Christ’s work, we can’t use His grace as a free pass to do whatever we want. It is wrong to intentionally sin while planning to ask for forgiveness later. We need to turn from these sins, and to do that, we need help from God. We need to surrender our entire being—body, soul, and spirit—to Him.

“To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled.” – Titus 1:15

Let’s Be the Example

First and second Timothy were written by Paul to a young Christian named Timothy, who had accompanied him on one of his journeys. In them, Paul tells Timothy not to let anyone despise him for his youth, but to set an example for his fellow believers.

Let’s not give people any reason to despise us for our youth. Let’s boldly live out Paul’s instruction in the second part of 1 Timothy 4:12 by following Christ’s example in our speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity. No matter our age, we, like Timothy, can set an example for our fellow believers.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About the author

Ava Murbarger

Ava Murbarger is a young author, Christian, homeschooler, PK, and lover of wolves (as well as most other animals) who tends to reread the books she comes across at least twice. She writes primarily fantasy and science fiction and has been writing as long as she can remember.

That writing became something more than a hobby when she realized the struggle of trying to find truly good stories among the rest. Since then, she's written multiple stories, helped edit multiple works from budding writers, and worked to improve her writing and create stories that someone might just want to read about.

She live in a small town in Illinois with her parents and little (but only slightly younger) brother, where the sunsets are vibrant and the wind is harsh. When she's not writing, she enjoys reading (especially adventures), playing her guitar, dreaming up new worlds, helping out at her church, drawing randomly, and being with friends and family.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • Hello!
    I am a teacher at a Christian School in Pennsylvania and my 8th grade students and I are working through the book Do Hard things. I am looking to see if there are any stickers, T-shirts, or things created around the book to give my students once we finish the book, and then to also have them share with their peers as a talking point. My students are interested in designing and creating items as a way to spur this movement on. Is there a way we could add this to the Rebolution site? An area for creative content (merch, shirts, sweatshirts, bracelets, posters, etc) that teens can submit from around the world.

    If there are already shirts, posters, or stickers, where would I find them?

    If there is someone I should contact please let me know as I have had a hard time finding a contact person on this website.

    Thank you!
    Middle School Teacher Ms. Good

    • Hello! I’m not a part of the Rebelution team, but I’ll give it my best shot to help you. I would think that probably the best person to contact would be Sara Barret, who can be found here on Facebook:

      I couldn’t find any merch for sale anywhere on the Rebelution website or even on the internet. One of the ways you’ll probably be recommended to help with merch is to make and sell/give it away in your local area. I hope this helps!

  • Wonderful reminder of how our walk will look if we’re following Christ the way we’re supposed to. Excellently written. Thanks so much!

By Ava Murbarger
rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →