2 Powerful Words: “But You”

Posted on March 23, 2021

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By David Ettinger

Refuse to Follow the Crowd
Recently in church, our pastor addressed the young folks. With passion and conviction, he said, “Your friends may tell you that the Bible is just a book of fairy tales, but you keep on reading it.” He added, “Your friends may call you naïve for attending church or say church is filled with hypocrites, but you keep coming every Sunday and serving the Lord.”

His message hit the mark: The entire world may be against you, but you continue to do what is right in the Lord’s eyes. Even if you are roundly condemned and ridiculed, never forsake God; refuse to follow the crowd. Those two words, “but you,” are code words for standing for what you believe in and remaining faithful. They are words of power and principle, encouragement and enablement, and they can transform the way you live your life.

“But You” in Scripture
This phrase appears multiple times in the Bible, but two in particular stand out.

The Books of 1 and 2 Timothy are filled with wise instruction regarding church leadership and practical living, but what I love most is the relationship between the author, the apostle Paul, and his son in the faith, Timothy. There existed between these two men a true father-son relationship. Paul’s love for Timothy is evident throughout these epistles.

Paul – imprisoned, aging, and nearing the end of his life – chose Timothy to carry on his work. But one issue concerning the bold and fervent Paul was his protégé’s timidness. Paul knew Timothy had trouble confronting those in the church of Ephesus who behaved in ways contrary to biblical mandate.

In 1 Timothy 6:11, Paul wrote to the young pastor: “But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness” (italic added).

There is a counterbalance here, the words “But you” indicating something contrary to what came before. What came before concerned false teachers who were arrogant, self-servers, and caused riffs in the body. Also addressed were money lovers who would do anything to accumulate wealth.

Timothy, on the other hand, was to focus solely on righteousness, holiness, and godliness. Even if everyone else in Ephesus embraced sin, Timothy was to remain steadfast.

The second “But you” passage is 2 Timothy 4:5: “But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.”

What preceded this? Again, false teachers; those who embraced wrong doctrine and told their compromised congregations “what their itching ears want to hear” (v. 3). “But you,” Timothy, are not to do that. Rather, the demure young man was to be level headed, stand up under hostility, and perform his job of preaching the Gospel. No matter what everyone in Ephesus was doing, Timothy was to keep serving God.

“But You” Today
This brings us to you. How are you doing when it comes to “But you”? Are you doing an admirable job of not following the crowd, instead guarding your faith and testimony for Christ? Are you avoiding the cultural trends and social behaviors that compromise your witness and weaken your faith?

How about that cable TV show which oozes with profanity and sexuality? “Well,” you aver, “everyone at work is watching it; I don’t want to be the only one who isn’t.” What would Paul say? “But you, sir, be the one who is not watching it because you know it dishonors God.”

And what about the crude joking and gossip that fills the break room at lunchtime? “But,” you stutter, “this is what the people at work like to talk about. If I don’t join in, I’ll be an outcast.” What would Paul say? “But you, madam, be the one not gossiping because you know it displeases God.”

In what other ways do you need to spurn the crowd? Sports fans, how do you spend your autumn and winter weekends? Is it nothing but football and basketball from morning to night without allotting time for reading your Bible? Yes, all the other guys in church are doing it, “but you” be the one who honors God on weekends.

Parents, how much of your children’s activities occur on Sunday mornings, meaning the family has to skip church? Yes, this may be a common problem in your church, “but you” say “no”; don’t let our Godless society keep you from your calling to worship corporately (Hebrews 10:24-25).

Becoming a “But You” Christian
As we draw nearer to the end of the age and society turns ever further from God, incredible pressure will be exerted on Christians to conform or be left out. But Paul says, “Don’t do it! Don’t conform, even if everyone else you know is. Your entire city may reject God, BUT YOU, man or woman of God, be the one who stands firm no matter the consequences!”

May God help you to remain strong under fire as you strive to be a “But You” Christian!