By Mac Deaver
Our society places a lot of emphasis on the concept of “youth.” If one did not know better, he might by such a cultural stress get the idea that youth is what life is all about. He would, however, be wrong. While there is certainly a benefit to that time period in one’s life, it is not the focal point of living, according to the Scriptures. We must not lose our perspective as we go through or get beyond youth. Let us consider—
The foolishness of youth. Solomon wrote, “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him” (Prov. 22:15). Those of us who are no longer youthful can likely remember that our “bad ideas” didn’t go away once we got past elementary school. It took some time and experience, listening and learning for us to get a better comprehension of that around which our lives were to be revolving. As young people it was hard for us at the time to see how ignorant we really, really were.
The days of youth. Solomon long ago gave us warning, “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them” (Eccl. 12:1). The path of life is to be planned early on. The direction in which one is to travel is to be located soon and followed thereafter. In our youth we are to determine to live for God and in light of the eternity that is fast approaching. Youth is not meant by God to be wasted and then regretted. Parents are to help their children to seek God early (Eph. 6:1-4; cf. Luke 2:40-52).
The vanity of youth. Solomon said, “Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment. Therefore remove sorrow from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh: for childhood and youth are vanity” (Eccl. 11:9-10). It is exciting to be a young person. There is so much to learn, so much to experience, so much to feel. Life is before us! And with so much energy we are willing to live it. But this period in one’s life is but for a brief moment. It indeed has its own value as a time in one’s life, but its worth should not be overestimated, given the way life becomes once one is past his young years.
The value of youth. Paul once said to a young preacher, “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an ensample to them that believe, in word, in manner of life, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12). With proper training, a Christian can become quite useful in the work of the Lord at an early age. While many youths may be correctly apprised as yet foolish, those properly directed can be seen by older people as using good judgment and showing sense in the way they are living.
The sins of youth. Following the flood God reflected on the nature of man. Moses recorded for us these words: “…I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth…” (Gen. 8:21). Indeed, all of us adults must admit that our first sin occurred in youth. David prayed, “Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O Lord” (Psa. 25:7).
The memory of youth. Late in life David said, “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread” (Psa. 37:25). Old age contains the memory of days long gone. The totality of life’s experiences can be contemplated almost fully as one approaches his last day on earth. The old person knows what youth is like. He knows how such a state compares with middle age. And he knows how middle age appears in the
light of the last days of his earthly pilgrimage. And the faithful old person sees the evidence of God’s love and God’s care and the necessity of human righteousness on the earth as he surveys the scene of his youth and all the days that followed that long ago time in his life.
I am glad that God somehow in his gracious providence kept me from making a fool of myself in youth. It was such a great time! It was such an exceedingly important formative period. It was wonderful to be a young person raised in a Christian home where the gospel and the church meant everything. The complete atmosphere of human living was spiritual. May God help our parents to help their young to grow up right, straight, and strong.