Our actions speak louder than our words. One of the most effective ways of teaching that we see throughout the Bible is that of example. Jesus’ disciples saw and experienced how He loved people. In Him they saw and experienced an example of the great commandment (Matt. 22:36–40).
Jesus told His disciples, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples [meaning students who themselves would become teachers and examples], if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). It is by observing the conduct, motivation, and expression of the Word of God in faith and love that people truly receive the teaching. The disciples’ example of “love for one another” would confirm and give substance to their teaching.
Timothy learned from studying Paul’s teachings as well as from observing his way of life.
“Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me!” (2 Timothy 3:10–11).
Timothy experienced this same pattern of learning in his youth. He learned the Scriptures as a child while observing the sincere faith in the life of his mother and grandmother (2 Tim. 1:5; 3:15). Teaching becomes effective when the life of a parent, teacher, or church member is a visible example. The Scriptures themselves come to life and take on greater meaning.
Learn the Scriptures and Be an Example
The goal of teaching was not only to impart knowledge, but to reproduce love from a pure heart—love that has an expression toward God and toward others (1 Tim. 1:3-5). To accomplish this, Timothy taught by word and by example. Paul, his mentor, encouraged Timothy to “Prescribe and teach these things… [and] in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe” (1 Tim. 4:11). It is a great thing to learn the Scriptures in order to teach others; it is a greater thing to learn the Scriptures in order to keep them and be an example while also teaching others. The Lord beautifully sums up this thought when He says, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
1. See Matthew 5:19 and Ethics of the Fathers 4.5.