By Bill Jeter
In our society much is written and said about young people and all the bad things they do. Rarely do we read or hear about the good things they are doing. Even in the church, we are sometime critical of our youth. Possibly, this is because we do not try to understand them. Their problems and temptations are usually so different from ours that they are underestimated and scoffed at and considered to be unimportant.
Over the years people have asked themselves why our young people grow up and leave the church. The problem could be more a reflection on ourselves than on the young men or women in question. We should look at the environment they had, growing up. What kind of spiritual upbringing did they have? Were they taught at home? Did we sit down with our children and teach them from the Bible, or were we too busy? Was a good example always set before them, or were they expected to base their decisions in life on other people’s examples? Did we take as much interest in the subjects they were being taught in Bible classes as we took in their secular classes?
Our youth cannot gain strength from our weaknesses. Many times our young people are given the impression that we as parents are perfect, and that we do not make mistakes. They feel we expect them to live up to this perfect standard. Pressures for perfection within the home, the church, and other areas are often too overwhelming for our young, especially if their need for love, compassion, and understanding has not been met. If we do not take the time to help them through their growing, formative years with these principles, then maybe we have found the answer to the question of why so many leave the church. We are dealing with our children, our young people, the most important asset we have.
It is said that the youth of today is the church of tomorrow, but do we acknowledge the fact that many are already the church of today. By our actions, they are often shut out of the work of the church. Many do not speak up in class, ask questions, or take any interest whatsoever because they believe it is the work of the older people. Without becoming involved, boredom sets in, and they feel there is no place in the church for them. They end up leaving the church. In God’s word, we read passages dealing with young people (not necessarily teenagers but young people of all ages). It would do us all good to study again the examples set out in the Bible that commend the youth, and we need to do the same for their faithful service to Christ. Some examples of the youth in the Bible are Samuel, David, Joash, Timothy, Ruth, daughters of Phillip, and Martha. These people are worthy of consideration because they were young in years. Read 1 Samuel 2:26, 1 Samuel 3:1 about Samuel; 1 Samuel 17:33, about David; 2 Chronicles 24:1, about Joash; 2 Timothy 1:5; 3:15 about Timothy; Ruth 1:16 about Ruth; Acts 21:9 about the daughters of Phillip, and John 11:24 about Martha.
Young people continue to be a good example to all of us. They deserve our respect. Youthfulness is not a disability for doing good work. Surely since we are older, the importance of young people in the church can be recognized, They are a great influence on our lives and that places a great responsibility on their shoulders. There are some truths that need to be kept in mind by young people.
1. The idea of a clean life (Psa. 119:9).
2. The certainty of a day of reckoning (Eccl. 11:9).
3. The value of restraint (Lam. 3:27).
4. The power of personal influence (1 Tim. 4:12).
5. Soberness is better than frivolity (Tit. 2:6-7).
6. Moral strength is mightier than physical (1 Jn. 2:13-14; Prov. 20:29).
There are many young people who are living up to these truths.
We give thanks for young men and women, and pray that their example of Christianity will be as someone has said, “You can preach a better sermon with your life than you can with your lips.”
Guardian of Truth XXXIII: 16, p. 491
August 17, 1989