"Let No Man Despise Thy Youth"
In an era of worldwide wickedness, Paul wrote by the inspiration of God and admonished the young Christian Timothy,
Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity (1 Tim. 4:12).
Young people should not be ashamed of their youth nor of their service to God. Their souls and their roles in God's service are just as important to God as the roles of older people.
God sends each precious soul into this world pure and free from sin. Sometime after reaching an age of accountability to God, each person chooses to sin against God's will in thought, word, or deed (Rom. 3:23; 9:11). "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 6:23). From the beginning until now, God has addressed young people to direct them away from sin with its guilt and sorrow, and to lead them in the blessed paths of righteousness. God is personally and directly conscious of every young person on the face of the earth, and seeks to save them for all eternity!
The Bible abounds with examples of young people who faithfully served the Lord. Time would fail us to tell of Joseph, David, the young maid of Naaman's wife, Daniel, Timothy, and others who were an inspiration to their generation and to many generations to follow. They have taken the counsel of the Word of God as the guide of their lives:
Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.
With my whole heart have I sought thee: 0 let me not wander from thy commandments.
Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee (Ps. 119:9-11).
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:
For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck (Prov. 1:7-9).
Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them; ... .
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man (Eccl. 12:1, 13).
Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth (Eph. 6:4).
We live in a time of worldwide wickedness, but there are still many young people who are faithfully serving the Lord. I remember them from the days of my own youth. I have known them in every congregation where I have lived and labored in the gospel, including the church here at West Columbia. I meet them all over the country when traveling in gospel meetings. They have made an indelible impression on my life for good and they constantly exert an influence in my life which will help me to reach heaven by the grace of God.
It is well for young people to sit at the feet of mature teachers and to learn about God's Word from their parents, elders, deacons, preachers, Bible class teachers, and other adult saints. It is also well for young people to share their faith with other young people, and even with adults when they have the opportunity. With this in mind, it has been my privilege to work with young people around the country during the past year to put together a series of fifteen articles on the theme "Let No Man Despise Thy Youth."
All fifteen writers are in their teenage years or in their early twenties. Some are in high school, others in college, and some high school graduates who did not attend college. They participate in a wide range of scholastic and extra-scholastic activities, and some have part-time or full-time jobs. Josh Gurtler, who worked with the church here in a preacher training program in the summer of 1993, and Heather Harshbarger, who is my niece, attend Florida College. Scott Wiginton attends Texas A & M University and Jonathan Halbrook Western Kentucky University. Holly Turner recently graduated from W.K.U. and joined her parents to help in spreading the gospel in Kenya, East Africa.
Writers still in high school include Jeremy Sweets, David Halbrook, Jason Hosfield, Ryan Lindsey, John Isaac Edwards, Deborah Halbrook, and Alan Roskos (who is the youngest, at 14). Kevin Maxey and Jarrod Jacobs are out of school and preach the gospel full time, while several other young men who are in high school or college do part time preaching. Missy Ing is married, Cindy Bryant soon will be, and both are members of the Hebron Lane church in Shepherdsville, KY.
Five authors have some tie to the church here (Ryan Lindsey is a member, Josh Gurtler spent a summer, and my three children). David Halbrook and Ryan Lindsey pre-pared their material on the prom in a training class here and preached their lessons before the church last spring. David then presented his lesson in a speech class at school, where it led to some lively discussion. Heather Harshbarger is the daughter of Randy and Marilyn Harshbarger; Randy preaches for the Mound and Starr church in Nacogdoches, TX, and Marilyn is a sister of my wife, Donna. Jeremy Sweets is the son of Richard and Alice Sweets; Richard is an elder in the Overland church in Lawrenceburg, KY, and Alice is my sister. I know from "up close" that the faith of Heather and of Jeremy reflects the training of godly homes.
These fifteen authors are to be congratulated for their work. Most of them have never written such an article before, and some may never have an occasion to write again, but all of these articles will bear fruit for good in both time and eternity. None of these young men and young ladies claim perfection in their lives, but each is still growing in the service of the Lord just like all of us. May they never be ashamed of their youth or of their youthful efforts to serve the Lord. May all who read take to heart the truth taught in these fine articles, and take heart in the fact that God still has his 7,000 faithful servants among the youth of our nation. "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee (Ps. 119:9)."
Guardian of Truth XXXIX: 6 p. 2