It’s not easy being different. But many of you deal with this reality on an ongoing basis, and will face a renewed challenge as you return to school after your summer break. Don’t be surprised if, in your desire to live as a Christian, you find yourself living on a different wavelength from your peers. In fact, if you want to live like a Christian, you should be different – it’s Biblical.
Three times in 2 Timothy, Paul encourages Timothy to be different from the prevailing spirit of the age. He is aware of the character of the world and the attitudes that dominate society. He knows that the world is increasing in its distaste for God’s truth and its hostility against Christ. He can tell that believers are being influenced by it. And as Paul calls on Timothy, so the Spirit of God calls on you to be different. The Greek expression, identical in its three occurrences in 2 Timothy (3:10; 3:14; 4:5), could be translated as, “But as for you.” The spirit of the age manifests itself in self-centred, rebellious attitudes (“men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, disobedient to parents … lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God”) – but as for you, be different from them. They “oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind … YOU, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness” (2Tim 3:8,10 ESV). You see? You are different. And if you are going to name the name of the Lord (2Tim 2:19) and be a testimony to Christ this semester, you need to be different.
Now the degree of difference depends somewhat upon the moral standards of those around you. It is not a matter of making sure you are “x” degrees different from the world – the world is not your measuring stick. It is a matter of making sure you stay close to the standard of the Lord and His Word. But, please be clear, living in the enjoyment of fellowship with God will necessitate your being different. “Be not conformed to this world” (Rom 12:2).
Being different is often challenging. It will be easier for you to maintain this distinctiveness throughout the year if you make it crystal clear in the first month of school. Their jokes, their extracurricular interests, their dress, their weekends, and their attitudes, all reflect a value system that has been poisoned by the spirit that is steering the course of this world. But as for you, be different.
Paul is stressing Timothy’s distinction in the areas of doctrine, manner of life, goals, faith, patience, and love. So Timothy, and you, are to be different in the TEACHING embraced. Take advantage of the teaching in the meetings of the local assembly; arm yourself against ungodly philosophies. Assure that your AIM in life is properly calibrated to embrace the eternal. You are to cultivate PATIENCE and to recognize that God’s timing and ways are the best. Make sure your LOVE does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. Persevere in STEADFASTNESS, knowing that in due season you will reap if you do not faint. FAITH is vital for all of these to operate. Don’t throw in the towel. Too many are being carried along by the spirit of the age. But as for you, be different – be “a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2Tim 2:3).