Honoring Christ in Youth
“Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth” (Ecclesiastes 12:1).
One of the saddest verses in the Bible is the last half of Judges 2:10. It speaks of the generation of Joshua and the elders of Israel that outlived Joshua. That generation served the Lord. Then the tragic description, “...and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which He had done for Israel.”
This edition of The Baptist Witness is focused on honoring Christ in every season. There is an article directed towards middle age and another to old age. This one is specifically addressed to the youth. I will let the reader decide which category he or she falls into! There is much Biblical wisdom to dispense to youth. May God bless these words to grip your heart.
God Made You For a Purpose
Acts 17:26-27 is part of the Apostle Paul's message he preached in ancient Greece. In these verses, he declared that God has sovereignly orchestrated human history to the extent that wherever one lives and the times that one lives in has been arranged according to God's wise plan. All that, with a purpose. What purpose? “That they (you, me, all of us) should seek the Lord.” Young person, there is no accident that you are alive. Nor is it accidental where you were born or what time period of history you have been brought into existence. God has made you with a purpose: that you should seek Him. That is really a summary statement of the meaning of the life: to seek the living God! The good news of the gospel tells us how sinners who have rebelled against God are brought near to Him. Only through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. So, seek the Lord thru faith in Jesus. While there are thousands of things begging for your time, attention and focus, know this: God is worthy of being sought after! The latest clothing fad will go out of style, the best-on-the-market device will get old and lose value, your social status may rise and fall, but God never loses His worth nor the beauty and majesty of His glory. The best way you can spend your youth is to seek the Lord. And you won't regret it. He alone satisfies the deepest needs of the soul. His love brings security. His grace is sufficient to forgive, to develop Christlike character, and to sustain through all struggles and discouragements.
This is a Time of Great Opportunity
There is great potential in youth. Old people wistfully say things like, “I wish I had half their energy” when referring to young people. There is a freshness to life in youth. New experiences seem to come rapidly in this season. But, there is also great danger. Paul told Timothy to run away from the sinful desires of youth (2 Tim. 2:22). This verse indicates that there are particular temptations and sinful desires that characterize this period of life. This doesn't mean that once you become middle aged the sin struggle will cease. But, it should be a sober warning to the young. There is a temptation in youth to feel invincible, as if immune to the consequences of sin. “I can do whatever I want and get away with it. Nobody can stop me. A little indulging in sin won't hurt anything.” There are many who have believed these very lies who brought upon themselves many damaging consequences that they carried with them years later. Heed Paul's loving warning to Timothy and run away from the sinful desires of youth. You won't regret it!
It is no secret that one of Satan's strategies is to turn the hearts of young people away from Christ. Just as the new generation in Judges that didn't love and treasure God as previous generations had, Satan wants more generations like that! 2 Corinthians 4:4 tells us that Satan is blinding the eyes of unbelievers to the incredible beauty found in the gospel. Young person, Satan wants to grab your gaze!Whether it be with a thousand mind-numbing distractions, forbidden pleasures, peer approval, self-righteousness or deceitful philosophies, he wants you to look at anything except the way, the truth and life!
The good news of the gospel declares that those who trust in Christ are free from the cruel power of Satan! Christ has crushed Satan, and all those who are in Christ are safe from his damning power. Nevertheless, there is still a war for your heart and your mind, believer, that will continue to be fought until you reach glory. Therefore, with firm resolve and a healthy sobriety, seek the grace of God that your years of youth will not be a sad waste, but a time of great fruitfulness for God's glory.
This is a Time of Learning
It should go without saying that every season is a time of learning, but youth most definitely is. There is a problem, however. One of the inclinations of many young people is that they pretty much know it all! In many, there is not a deep hunger to learn the wisdom of God's word and wisdom of more mature saints, including but not limited to one's parents. Saying this, I do sympathize with you. Sitting and listening can get wearisome can't it? Receiving instruction and unsolicited advice can grow stale. But try to look past that to the value of learning and heeding God's wisdom.
Proverbs is written initially to a young man, Solomon's son. Solomon gives instruction, warning, encouragement, promises and more over and over and over again! But when you read Proverbs the tone is not of one of “I just love telling you what to do, son!” Rather, there is a deep love and concern for his son's well-being. Young person, God's wisdom in His word comes from the heart of a loving, gracious God. Biblical wisdom from godly parents and other older saints comes from imperfect souls, but souls that genuinely care for the well-being of people like you.
So, ask God to take away from you any attitude of a fool (who despises God's word), and give you more the attitude of wise man or woman (who humbly receives it). Practically speaking, apply yourself diligently to grow in the knowledge of God. In church, don't be a passive listener to sermons but one who is active and diligent. Taking sermon notes and reviewing them later is an obvious step. Discipline yourself to the daily reading and study of Scripture. Don't let social media dictate your morning routine or the day's schedule. Let pursuing the riches of Christ in His word take priority. Read solid Christian books. Get to know older godly people and ask them about their life and experiences. Listen to sermons on your device during the week. Memorize Scripture. If you will be diligent to sow seeds of diligence in God's word in this season, know that God has a wonderful habit of blessing such endeavors. As Proverbs 2 says, cry out for knowledge, seek it as silver and search for it as hidden treasures!
This is a Time of Doing
Not just learning, but action. A few practical thoughts: first, actively serving is living a gospel-shaped life. We have been saved by a humble servant, Jesus! Start in your family. Develop a mindset of ministering to parents and fellow siblings with willingness and cheerfulness. There are probably other opportunities that will come your way, whether at church, in the neighborhood or in a variety of other ways. Serving others is also a great antidote against sin. Feeding a lifestyle of self-absorption and self-indulgence is a gateway to falling into sinful temptations.
Second, be a doer of the gospel by loving people. Is there someone at church who you don't talk to much, but looks like they could use a friend? Is there someone you work with, play sports with or know from some other social setting that will not increase your “cool factor” but seems to be aloof, awkward and shy? These are opportunities to lovingly reach out in the name of Christ.
Third, don't waste the activities you are engaged in. If it is high school or college, learn diligently. If you play sports, be a hard worker with a great attitude. Enjoy it! If you are working a job, respect your superiors and diligently work for the Lord. Who knows how God will use these experiences to shape you and teach you for the future! Don't waste them with laziness.
Be Realistic and Trust God
Some people seem to believe that life ahead is full of fun, adventure and all your dreams coming true non-stop! That's not reality. In your life, expect that there will be trouble, disappointments and adversity (Job 14:1; John 16:33). Thankfully, that's not all you are to expect. Expect God to be faithful to His promises and merciful to you all your days (Psalm 23:6). Expect that He will carry you through every season of life. God's love for you doesn't mean He will make everything easy for you, but He will use difficulties to shape your character and to display His loving faithfulness. You can trust Him for today, and you can trust Him for the future. You won't regret it!
Timothy Guess is the Managing Editor of The Baptist Witness and pastor of Collierville Primitive Baptist Church, Collierville, TN.