Philippians 2:5-7a - Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant.
Taking note of the generation gap some 2,000 years ago, St. Paul wrote to Timothy, a young man who represented the next generation. "Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity" (1 Timothy 4:12). As you can see, the rift between young and old has been going on for a very long time.
The apostle Paul was wise enough not to disdain those who were younger than him. Instead, Paul tells Timothy to help his peers, set an example in righteous living, conduct his affairs in love, faith, and purity, shine as a follower of Jesus. He is the Savior of every generation and the Lord of both the old and the young.
St. Paul was not above trying hard to understand the next generation. Surely, there were—and are—those who simply condemn the young outright, for any number of reasons, but Paul would not be one of them. Instead, the apostle tells Timothy to take the initiative, to "devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. ... Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by doing so you will save both yourself and your hearers" (1 Timothy 4:13b, 15-16).
Paul tells Timothy—and us—you are a believer in Jesus Christ. Have the mind that you see in Jesus. Young as you are, you have been forgiven by the Father for the sake of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection, for we all need God's forgiveness. And as a forgiven sinner, remember what it means to forgive, to walk in mercy and grace toward others, seeing how you, too, have been shown grace by God for your many sins.
And what did Timothy do? He heeded the words of the beloved apostle, his wise and compassionate spiritual mentor. Timothy faithfully served his spiritual father who was a generation older. In fact, to Paul, young Timothy was indispensable. "For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know Timothy's proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the Gospel" (Philippians 2:20-22).
Such a beautiful Christian relationship bridging two generations! The older teaching the younger; the younger serving the older; both growing together in their faith and devotion to the Savior who loved and saved them for eternity.
WE PRAY: Heavenly Father, teach us to be respectful to other generations and to remember that Jesus died for us all, both young and old. In His Name we pray. Amen.
From "The Generation Gap," a sermon excerpt from Rev. Dr. Oswald Hoffmann, former Speaker of The Lutheran Hour
1. Name three things that differ between your generation and the one before or after yours.
2. What does it mean that Christ "emptied Himself" in becoming human?
3. Is there someone you'd like to get advice from but don't know how to ask? What stops you?
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