The Relationship Of Young People and Their Elders

By Olen Holderby

Once again we are permitted to consider some things that deal with both our happiness here and our eternal welfare. This thought places a high degree of importance upon our subject. The lesson will, in the main, deal with the relationship of young Christians to older Christians.

Age Groups

In the physical realm there are, as normally expressed, five age groups: infancy, childhood, adolescence (youth), maturity, and old age. However in the spiritual realm there are only two groups: babes in Christ and mature Christians. These are related to growth, rather than to years.

When Jesus issued the Great Commission, He included all alike when He said, “every creature” or “all nations.” Young Christians are members of the church just like others; they must not be considered a distinct group separate from all others. Such practice makes them a “sect” within the church. There is no such thing as “junior church,” “junior worship,” or “minister of youth,” so far as God’s Word is concerned. We need to remember that young people are just young Christians, developing toward maturity, spiritually as well as physically. Paul expressed this thought like this, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male or female: for ye all are one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28).

Further, we may be able to see a profitable balance by having the young and old together: the enthusiasm of youth with the wisdom of old age. Surely no young person thinks himself wiser than the old soldiers of the Cross. On the other hand, the old soldiers cannot think of themselves as having the “spunk” of youth. The utilization of both this zeal and this wisdom is, within itself, a safeguard against much that is wrong. Zeal without proper knowledge is bad (Rom. 10:1-3) and knowledge without zeal is no more profitable. Proper respect, in both directions, will add strength to any congregation of God’s people. I understand James 2:9 to forbid any other conclusion, “But if, ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.” God gave the same plan for all to obey to become Christians, the same plan by which all are to worship after they become Christians, and the same set of rules to govern the lives of all. Let us find satisfaction, and profit, with God’s arrangement!

All Christians have obligations to all other Christians. “‘And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works” (Heb. 10:24). Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” (Phil. 2:3). “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you, be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble” (1 Pet. 5:5). I believe these passages clearly establish the point that all Christians have obligations to all other Christians.

The Older

Whether parents or those merely older, all have obligations toward the young. The very fact that these two groups exist establishes this fact. Every child deserves a home composed of Christians, with godly guidance and influence. Along with this must go the proper example for youth to follow, for the young are imitative. Faithful instruction in the precious truths of the gospel must be consistent. We may see all these things in the instructions given in Ephesians 6:4 and 1 Timothy 5:8.

I recently saw the results of a survey taken in one section of Chicago; seventy-five per cent of all grammar school children had never attended a Bible class of any kind. Ninety-nine percent of all criminals from this section of Chicago were from this seventy-five percent. These kinds of statistics are going to produce other statistics which are going to be more fatal to the society in which we live. Mark that well!

We, see a growing tendency among parents to neglect the necessary discipline, parents who send their children to Sunday school, but never go themselves, parents who are saying, “Do as I tell you, but not as I do.” Parents, this will not work! I heard someone say recently, “Young people spend much time on the street because they do not want to stay home by themselves.” And, from another source, “They would rather be led to do wrong than driven to do right!” Those of you that are older, listen carefully, our young people are going to be led! The question is, “Who shall do that leading?” And, “To what shall they be led?”

Young people need social activities. This is a personal and parental responsiblity, not a church function, nor is it a church obligation. Parents need to see to it that their children have the proper activities, guided by the proper principles. Our young people will have problems in this, as well as in other areas. They will need encouragement from the older set; they will need the wisdom of age. Perhaps enough of this godly assistance will help us avoid some broken hearts and lost souls.

The Younger

Let me just briefly touch upon the obligations of youth to their elders. Of course, children are to obey their parents (Eph. 6:1-2). The young are to respect their elders (1 Pet. 5:5; 1 Tim. 5:1-2). But, how do we apply these thoughts?

Once proper teaching is done, young people, you have the obligation to follow that teaching, to say “No” to temptations. You do not have to search far into the Bible for good examples in this. Moses, Joseph, Daniel, and even Jesus serve as good examples. School activities furnish wonderful opportunities to demonstrate “Christian” character. Young people, you do not have to engage in unchristian things in order to be popular. I knew of a football captain back in Oklahoma who was a Christian. He was the son of a deacon in the church.

When games were scheduled on Wednesday nights, he refused to play. He would not stir up a mess and conduct himself foolishly, but merely informed the coach that he would not be at the game and why. The games were changed to a different night. When he crowned the Homecoming Queen, the audience shouted for him to kiss her. He declined. “What a snob! ” No, not hardly! At the end of the school year he was voted the “allaround” boy of the school and was valedictorian of the graduating class. The idea that “everybody does these things” is not only deceptive, but it simply is not true!, For Christians do not do those things that reflcCt unfavorably upon their, character as Christians. This is true whether we are talking about young Christians or old Christians.

Each of us must exercise his senses to’be able to discern right from wrong (Heb. 5:14). Each of us must examine himself and make sure he is living in harmony with the gospel (2 Cor. 13:5; Phil., 1:27). For each of us must give an account of himself to God (2 Cor. 5:10). Seek Him while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near, hold to His hand as you walk through this life, and even if all others forsake you, you can still go home with Him after a while. Once again, may God bless each of you that you may never be ashamed to stand before Him, for it is certain that you shall.

Guardian of Truth XXIX: 11, pp. 340-341
June 6, 1985