Paul wrote these words to Timothy.
In fact the full Scripture begins, "Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers..."
I've been pondering this passage of text all week long, and at first I had a picture of teaching this to teenagers, or young twenties...because for sure, they need to take this on board if they are going to be credible witnesses for Jesus, right?
But something moved me passed that thought. It was a couple of days later when I was sorting through some family history records and noticed that on Mr E's side of the family the average age of death was 90-95. His Italian line was obviously sturdy stock, with 'cause of death' consistently sited as old age.
I sat down and remembered his grandmother, a tiny little Italian lady named Bertha who made me feel rather small and insignificant when we were first married. She had raised him as her own from infancy and there was a definite matriarchal tone to her bearing when I was around.
She referred to us as young people, children - even though I was 32 and Mr E a little younger. At the time I considered myself quite mature, yet in her presence I may as well have been in my first year of grade school. She spoke, I listened. She directed, I complied. She questioned, I answered. She pointed where I was to sit, and I sat. She loved my husband, so I loved her.
When we handed her our newborn son I was finally allowed inside the walls of her heart, and by the time she cradled young Blossom on her knee the following year I knew she'd decided to love me.
At age 95, Granny passed away and went home to be with Jesus.
That was almost ten years ago, and here I am now in my 50's and Mr E almost there too. Yet, if Granny were still here she'd not waver from calling us young, still considering us children.
So as I let those memories play over in my mind and re-read Paul's instructions to Timothy, I could see that 'youth' could be 16, or it could be 66. It all depends on the age of the one giving the instruction.
I have sons and daughters in their 20's and 30's yet I still think of them as young girls, boys, 'youths', children...and they will always be that to me. So this Scripture now has added weight in my life because to Granny I am the youth that Paul is instructing in this Scripture.
I am to look at my own life as a witness for Jesus, and examine whether the young woman I now know myself to be is truly living it in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
This was quite a revelation for me, and maybe for you too.
(must admit, I quite like the being 'young' part)