A Child Makes Himself Known

How can a young person make his mark on this world? Most young people want to distinguish themselves in some way, and our society offers many possibilities. If a young man is athletic, then he may make himself known by competing in sporting events. These days, some young women are also active athletically. Most young people are encouraged to distinguish themselves as great students in academics. Some find success in learning and performing music. Of course, there are many young people who seek attention through foolish or bad behavior. There are many "class clowns" who do not appear to have a serious thought in their heads, and there others who are true trouble-makers who are interested only in mischief.

Regardless of all the world's ideas of distinction, the best way for a young person to be distinguished is the way offered by God. This way is stated succinctly in Proverbs 20:11, which says, "Even a child is known by his deeds, whether what he does is pure and right." Despite all of the preparation, training, encouragement, and rewards that young people receive for their worldly success, God has ordained that deeds which are pure and right will be the means by which they will establish their names and gain a truly good reputation.

The Scriptures present many examples of young men who made themselves known by their pure and righteous deeds. The foremost example is that of our Lord Jesus, who increased in wisdom as He also increased in favor with God and men (Luke 2:40, 51-52). The occasion recorded in Luke 2:41-50 shows how Jesus at age twelve distinguished Himself with great wisdom and understanding. Another example is that of the boy Samuel, who like Jesus grew in favor both with God and with men because of his pure and righteous deeds (1Sam. 2:26). Consider also Daniel, who made up his mind as a very young man to keep himself pure and not to defile himself with the king's choice food and wine (Dan. 1:8). He and Hannaniah, Mishael, and Azariah were given great knowledge and intelligence by God so that they excelled in the strange land of Babylon (Dan. 1:17-20). Even the young man Joseph distinguished himself by his righteous behavior, although he suffered tremendously for it (Gen. 39:1-9).

Notice that in each of these examples, the distinguishing traits of these young men were not worldly in nature. It was their pure and righteous deeds rather than their worldly accomplishments that gained them favor with God and men. Granted, some of them had worldly success as a result of their deeds and God's gracious providence, but none of them are remembered because of worldly achievements. The legacy of them all is that they rendered faithful service unto God the Father.

Because young people should seek to make themselves known by pure and righteous deeds, we who are their parents must carefully prepare them to succeed in this manner. What this entails is quickly understood by considering Psalm 119:9 -- "How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word." Indeed, it is training in the word of God that will equip young people to make a name for themselves before God and men. This fact is evident from 2Timothy 3:14-17. Verses 16 and 17 are frequently quoted in the churches, but let us consider these four verses together as a context describing the full education of a young man for a distinguished life in God's service:

You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

If young people are not thoroughly fluent in the word of God, then they are not fully prepared for the pure and righteous deeds and every good work that should be the hallmarks of their lives. Therefore, their education and preparation in God's word must be their parents' highest priority. Fathers especially have this responsibility, for the Scripture says, "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4).

Let us end by considering again the question with which we began: How can a young person make his mark on this world? It will not be by how fast he can run, how high he can jump, how many points he can score in a game, how good his grades are, how well he can play a musical instrument, how much he makes others laugh, or how much money he makes when he grows up. He will be "known by his deeds, whether what he does is pure and right" (Prov. 20:11). Young people will show whether they believe this message of Scripture by what they choose to pursue. Parents will show whether they believe this message by how they train and lead their children. Young people, ask yourselves: how are you known? Parents, how are your children known? Each person's deeds will give the answer.

Stacey E. Durham


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