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Rejoice and Remember in Your Youth

Someone has said, "Youth is wasted on the young." That is a rather cynical statement, but it is unfortunately true for many young people who fail to take advantage of the benefits and opportunities of youth. Every generation has its share of young people who waste their early years. Some do so by getting into trouble, which is seen in the current generation's problems with immorality, drugs, and violence. Others waste their youth with vane pursuits. The current generation of young people is plagued by distractions -- video games, television, electronic devices, etc. They are not unique, for past generations have had their problems, and future generations will as well if the Lord tarries.

Even so, youth is a time of great potential, and it will be a time of great success for those who set their hearts on the Lord. Every young person can capitalize on the treasure of his youth if he will take to heart the wise words of Solomon from Ecclesiastes 11:9-12:1:

9Rejoice, young man, during your childhood, and let your heart be pleasant during the days of young manhood. And follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes. Yet know that God will bring you to judgment for all these things. 10So, remove grief and anger from your heart and put away pain from your body, because childhood and the prime of life are fleeting. 1Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, "I have no delight in them."

Notice that this message does not attempt to quench youthful exuberance, but rather it encourages it and channels it into the right paths. This instruction can be summarized in two words: rejoice and remember.

For young people to succeed in implementing the instructions of Solomon, they must learn and abide by the word of God. The message may sound like a broken record to impetuous young people (Do young people know what a broken record is?), but there is a good reason for the repetition of this message. Abiding by God's word is the only way to succeed during youth or any other period of life. Part of remembering the Creator is trusting that the Creator knows what is best for us and has communicated that knowledge through the Bible. "How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to [God's] word" (Ps. 119:9). God's word works "to give prudence to the naive, to the youth knowledge and discretion" (Prov. 1:4), but it cannot do so unless young people learn it and live by it. Parents especially need to take this instruction to heart, for it is their responsibility to teach their children and to cultivate faithfulness to God in them (Deut. 6:4-9; Eph. 6:4).

Furthermore, young people must realize and capitalize on the temporary advantages of youth for good. "Childhood and the prime of life are fleeting," so youth is not a time to waste by "sowing wild oats." Solomon says to "follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes," but he qualifies this by reminding young people that "God will bring you to judgment for all these things." Putting this together, we can understand that the impulses of a young person's heart and the desires of his eyes must be trained on good things so that he can stand justified in judgment. If he desires and pursues goodness and righteousness, then his youth affords him great opportunities for his own benefit and for the glory of God.

Too many times, there are low expectations for young people in the church that come from themselves, their parents, and other Christians. Yet the expectations of God for a young person are very high. "The glory of young men is their strength" (Prov. 20:29), so let them show their strength by how well they serve God and others. Often, the burden of service is assumed almost entirely by Christians who are older, but the Scripture says, "It is good for a man that he should bear the yoke in his youth" (Lam. 3:27). Many times, young people are expected to act foolish, but the word of God says, "Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe" (1Tim. 4:12). Rather than excusing young people for bad behavior, let them be instructed to "flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart" (2Tim. 2:22). Rather than teaching young adults to pursue only selfish gratification, worldly credentials, and wealth, let us heed Titus 2:4-8 to...

4...encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored. 6Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; 7in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, 8sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.

Young people who pursue godliness can rejoice in their youth while at the same time remembering their Creator. Youth does not have to be wasted, but rather it must be utilized to its fullest potential. Those who forget the Creator and waste their youth often spend the rest of their lives attempting to make up for what they have lost. Those who make the most of their youth propel themselves into the rest of life without the hindrances left over from the devastating mistakes made by so many of their peers. They are able to move forward unhindered in the full pursuit of the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matt. 6:33).

Stacey E. Durham



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