STOP WASTING YOUR TIME YOUTH
Which is the most difficult era of human life? Infancy? Adolescence? Mature adulthood? Agedness? It probably depends upon where you are as to how you might answer that query.
While many might suggest that one’s “sunset” years are the hardest, my own judgment would be that the period designated as “youth” might be the most challenging.
Youth is a frustrating time in life. It is that period when one is hardly old enough to be “on his own,” and yet he is feeling a sense of independence. Youth ever are attempting to find some sense of identity; that is why they sometimes act and dress so weird. They are bizarre!
But then, so were we.
The Scriptures represent “youth” as a time both of danger and challenge. Moses said that “the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Gen. 8:21), and Paul admonished Timothy to “flee youthful lusts” (2 Tim. 2:22).
By way of contrast, though, the Creator also recognizes the value of youth to the divine cause. Youngsters have energy, they are daring, their hearts are filled with visions of the future; indeed; they can be a most valuable component in the service of Jehovah.
Solomon, who wasted much of his life in folly, perhaps thought better of the matter in his declining days. He contended:
“Remember now 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 pleasure in them” (Eccl. 12:1).
Again, Paul would say to Timothy: “Let no man despise your youth; but you be an example to them that believe, in word, in manner of life, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12).
It strikes me that whereas our youth can be quite impetuous and sometimes a bit silly, they are, nonetheless, a wonderful resource in the kingdom of heaven. The fact is, the Bible is replete with examples of how God has used younger people in some of the most vital roles in the unfolding of his marvelous plan of redemption.
Let’s reflect upon some striking examples that demonstrate God’s confidence in youth.
Joseph is truly one of the sterling characters of the Old Testament era. He was a favorite of his father, which incited the passionate envy of his brothers (. Acts 7:9). Accordingly, these hateful siblings sold Joseph to a caravan of Ishmaelites who transported him down to Egypt, where the younger brother was bought by an Egyptian officer named Potiphar.
As most everyone knows, during the course of his duties, Potiphar’s evil wife cast longing eyes toward Joseph. She attempted to seduce him, but he, with firm resolve, resisted, insisting: “How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” (Gen. 39:9).
One of the stunning features of the account is the fact that Jospeh was only seventeen years of age (Gen. 37:2)! A young lad, in a strange land, separated from his people and his center of religious strength — yet faithful to his God. How thrilling!
As the story subsequently unfolds, we learn that Joseph was being used by Jehovah as a providential instrument for the preservation of the Hebrew nation. Joseph would later recognize: “God did send me [here] to preserve life” (Gen. 45:5).
Again, at the end of his life, to his brothers he said: “You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good … to save many lives”.
All of this was done, of course, in view the Lord’s use of the Hebrew nation as an instrument in the divine plan which resulted in the incarnation of Christ. Think about it. God trusted a teenager to accomplish such a vital role.
As the Hebrew people multiplied in the land of Egypt, they were perceived as a threat to the stability of that nation. Hence the order was given that Israelite male babies were to be thrown into the Nile. When Moses was born, his parents hid him for three months; then, they placed him in a small vessel fashioned from the papyrus plant, which they deposited by the river’s edge, committing their precious baby to the care of God.
In the meantime, Moses’ older sister, who is estimated to be about ten or twelve at this time, was posted some distance away, keeping watch. Finally Miriam obtained Jochebed, Moses’ own mother, as a nurse for the child. Oh, the ways of providence!
Here is my point. The entire future of the Hebrew nation — the instrument to be employed for the conveyance of the Savior — was entrusted to a young girl.
Does this say something about how God values youth? Assuredly it does.
The story of David, who became Israel’s king, is too well-known to need elaboration. Who among us, both as child and adult, has not thrilled to the narrative of David’s encounter with the devilish Goliath?
What a breathtaking episode — the soldiers of Israel on one side of the valley of Elah, the defiant Philistine champion on the other. Morning and evening for forty days, Goliath had challenged Israel to combat, but they were frozen in fear (1 Sam. 17:10-16).
When David arrived on the scene he was chagrined at the timidity of his Hebrew kinsmen and volunteered to take on the infidel. But he was disdained as a mere “youth” — initially by king Saul himself, and then by Goliath (1 Sam. 17:33,42). Never mind; God was with this “youth,” who may have been about twenty-two or so at the time (Clarke, 264). Goliath was slain and the Philistine force was routed. Again, the Lord invested in youth, and the cause of truth triumphed.
The noblest king to reign in the territory of Judah was Josiah. Scripture says there was no ruler of his calibre, neither before nor after him, who sought the Lord with “all his heart” as did he (2 Kgs. 23:25).
Josiah was but a boy of eight when he came to the throne. At the age of sixteen, he began to “seek” Jehovah, and by the time he turned twenty, he initiated a campaign to purge the southern kingdom of its idolatry (2 Chron. 34:1-3).
When Josiah was twenty-six, he arranged for repairs on the temple. It was at this time that a tremendously significant event occurred. A copy of “the law of Jehovah given by Moses” was discovered in the temple (2 Chron. 34:14). When the religious and moral message of the sacred document was studied, and the spiritual fabric of the nation was seen to stand in such glaring contrast, a reformation was proclaimed.
One of Josiah’s important accomplishments was the restoration of the Passover, which had not been observed with care since the days of the judges (2 Kgs. 23:21-23). Since the Passover was designed to preview the death of Jesus (cf. 1 Cor. 5:7), Josiah was an important element in preparing the nation for the Savior’s arrival. What confidence Jehovah had placed in a spiritual lad.
Jeremiah, the great “weeping prophet,” is one of the more remarkable characters of the Old Testament. He sought so desperately to bring rebellious Judah back into conformity with the law of God. He began his ministry in the thirteenth year of Josiah (626 B.C.) and concluded his work among his people when the Babylonian force destroyed the temple in 586 B.C. But he prophesied periodically even after the fall of the holy city.
It is possible that his preaching career spanned some sixty years or more (see Jackson, 7). This suggests that Jeremiah was probably in his late teens when he was called of the Lord to be his prophet to the wicked nation. God can use a youth of faith!
One can only imagine how sweet the beloved Mary of Nazareth must have been, as evidenced by the fact that of all women in Israel, she was chosen to be the mother of our Lord.
Something of her spiritual depth is seen in the psalm she uttered when greeted by Elizabeth, while visiting her kinsman in the hill country of Judah. The song is often called the “Magnifcat” (from the first word of the passage in the Latin Vulgate). The passage begins: “My soul magnifies [present -continuously] the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour” (Lk. 1:46).
In one of his books, Harry Rimmer noted that this little song, of ten verses in the English Bible, draws from twenty-three separate passages in the Old Testament (118). What a commentary on how her precious mind was filled with the word of God!
There was no companion closer to the great apostle Paul than his young friend Timothy. When the apostle wrote to the church in Philippi, the congregation for whom he had the greatest affection, he pledged to send Timothy to assist them. He paid the lad the highest compliment when he told the Philippian saints that “I have no man like-minded, who will care truly for Your state” (Phil. 2:20).
From time to time, during Paul’s missionary endeavors, Timothy was at his side. And during those dark hours as God’s apostle awaited execution, he longed for the friendship of Timothy. In his final epistle, Paul urged: “Give diligence to come to me shortly” (2 Tim. 4:9). What a compliment to this young Christian.
Apparently Paul converted Timothy on his first missionary campaign when in Lystra (Acts 14:8ff; cf. 1 Cor 4:17; 1 Tim. 1:2). When the apostle passed through the region a second time, he selected Timothy to accompany him. Since Timothy was still regarded as a “youth” when Paul wrote his first letter to him (1 Tim. 4:12), which was some fourteen years after the lad joined the apostle on that preaching tour, it is believed that he was eighteen to twenty when he started working with Paul.
Recognize the Potential
A consideration of these cases, and others that might be noted (cf. 2 Kgs. 5:2), clearly show that youngsters, properly trained, are capable of courageous faith and considerable usefulness in heaven’s cause.
Perhaps we do not realize how we might influence youngsters to serve the Lord. Do we not overlook their potential all too often? Think about these cases.
Youth can accomplish magnificent things for the Master’s cause. But do we always recognize this? Are our young people merely ignored as empty-headed, silly people who are unworthy of serious responsibility?
Sadly, this may be the case sometimes. But we should not overlook this valuable resource in the Master’s cause. We must be on the lookout for them and encourage them along the way. God can use them mightily.
Scripture references: Genesis 8:21; 2 Timothy 2:22; Ecclesiastes 12:1; 1 Timothy 4:12; Acts 7:9; Genesis 39:9; Genesis 37:2; Genesis 45:5; 1 Samuel 17:10-16; 1 Samuel 17:33, 42; 2 Kings 23:25; 2 Chronicles 34:1-3; 2 Chronicles 34:14; 2 Kings 23:21-23; Luke 1:46; Philippians 2:20; 2 Timothy 4:9; Acts 14:8; 1 Timothy 1:2
Signs You’re Wasting Your Youth
- You spend an inordinate amount of time before any moderate-to-big decision worrying — not about how you feel about it, but how others might perceive it.
- You have already given up on several goals because you deem yourself “not good enough.”
- You are putting off a move to the city of your dreams because you are too afraid that you won’t be able to make new friends or start a new social life.
- You don’t participate in hobbies that you could easily pursue in your area for fear of looking incompetent or slow in your group.
- You aren’t learning the language you have always wanted to learn, even though the materials to start are all right at your fingertips.
- You are staying in a relationship not particularly because you want to be with this person for the long term, but because it is preferable to being alone at a time when most of your social group is paired up.
- You are constantly updating social media to subtly show people that you are popular and successful.
- You are staying at a job you greatly dislike because you feel that, if you give it up for something less prestigious, people will judge you for it.
- You are spending your money on frivolous things like clothes and going out, when what you really want is to save up enough money to travel.
- You are not going on dates that are offered to you for fear of being rejected.
- You are perpetually putting off getting in shape/eating better because you imagine that there will always be time to do it later.
- You are constantly denying yourself foods you want because you want to look a certain way with no flexibility.
- You are hanging out more with people who are professionally or socially “important” than people with whom you feel a genuine connection/whom you know actually care about you.
- You are not wearing the kinds of clothes you feel best in because you perceive them to be “not in style,” “not a good label,” or “not meant for someone who isn’t skinny.”
- You are not even applying for jobs that you want because you imagine your chances of getting them to be too slim.
- You don’t approach certain people that you are very attracted to for fear that they are “out of your league” or “would never give you a chance.”
- You don’t sleep with someone when you want to because you think that they or someone else would think of you as “easy” or “a slut.”
- You spend hours agonizing over small flaws you perceive in yourself, instead of thinking about how this is the most beautiful and young and energetic you will ever be.
- You beat yourself up over small failures and refuse to acknowledge all of the wonderful things that you have done and are capable of.
- You allow other people — like your parents or significant other — to make decisions for you, even decisions you are not comfortable with.
- You are constantly allowing yourself to be pressured into going out when you prefer to stay home and enjoy yourself, because society has taught you to equate “going out to bars or parties” with “doing something useful with your time.”
- You never attend all of the various art exhibits, markets, or festivals that you always tell yourself you really want to go to this year.
- You don’t take the time to get to know and explore your city that you were so excited about moving to in the first place.
- You spend all of your time with the same group of people that you feel stifled by because the prospect of going out and meeting new people takes too much mental energy.
- Your only real hobby/spare time activities are centered around drinking, even if you’re not that much of a drinker.