The Challenge To Live As An Exemplary Young Person
Written by Jay Yeager
Saturday, 24 September 2016 02:24

The Challenge To Live As An Exemplary Young Person

     “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” (I Timothy 4:12 A.S.V.)

     I am so grateful for our young people. They are the next generation, the strength of the church will one day be in their hands (there will be a changing of the guard). When I look at the young people here and at home, I am so encouraged. Notwithstanding, there are challenges our young people will face and need to overcome.

     Now, young people you are not going to fit into this world’s way of acting and thinking. You are to shine as a light into a world of darkness (Matthew 5:16; Philippians 2:15). Being a light is a good thing, but of course, those who love the darkness may not think so (John 3:19-20).

     Do you know who else may not think so? The prince of this world (John 12:31). He will hate it! But we don’t mind jabbing the devil do we? Not that we should take him lightly, but we do not have to fear him, just be aware.

     Speaking of the devil, he is your enemy (I Peter 5:8), you cannot be ignorant of his devices (II Corinthians 2:11). Recognize that you are every bit a soldier (II Timothy 2:3-4), in a war that will determine forever. But please keep in mind that you are not fighting this battle alone, you are in the company of believers who love you and will always be there for you.

     The challenge for our young people to live exemplary lives is in our text:

1.      “Let no man despise thy youth”. Do not allow your age to be a hindrance. If you are

 Christians, you are a Christian in every way. You have every blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1:3), and you also have the same responsibilities. “But in this great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and of earth; some to honour, and some to dishonor. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work” (II Timothy 2:20-21).

     In this great house (the church) there are only two kinds of vessels – vessels of honour, gold and silver, precious things, and vessels of dishonor, wood and earth, mundane things. Age plays no part in determining value. If you are sanctified (set apart) and meet for the master’s use, and ready for every good work, you are a vessel of honour, no matter the age.

2.      “But be thou an example to them that believe”. Paul is not speaking of being an

 example to the world. You can, and must be, a light to the world (Matthew 5:16), but if the world followed your example they would not be the world any longer, they would be in the church. Be an example to the brethren in the following ways:

3.      “In word”. In word carries two thoughts. 1) Preaching and teaching involves doctrine.

 “But speak the things which become sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1). I will speak more to that point when we discuss faith. 2) In conversation, how we speak to each other. There are times when both young and old need that example.

     Years ago, and I don’t remember the circumstances surrounding the trip, a car load of Christian men were together, and the driver told an off-color joke. You know, every one politely chuckled. There was an older man, but a new Christian in the car with them. He told of it later. He was really hurt, his faith was not shaken, but his respect for the driver certainly was.

     I am not saying that our conversations are not to have lighter moments. We can, and should have fun together, but the scriptures specifically state “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth…” (Ephesians 4:29). Vulgar language is not appropriate for any Christian. “Well”, says one, “I can’t help that sometimes things pop into my head”. Alright, but you don’t have to let them make a nest there!  Bite your tongue until they pop out of your head.

     The rest of Ephesians 4:29 says, “But that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace to the hearers”. Young people, in whatever setting you find yourself, be an example for believers in your conversation.

4.      “In manner of life”. Listen to the words of the apostle Paul as he penned by inspiration

Galatians 2:20. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who, loved me, and gave himself for me”. “For me to live is Christ…” (Philippians 1:21). Let members of the body see Jesus in you. In love, in faith, in purity of life, these are ways for others to see Jesus living in us.

5.      “In love”. In I Peter 2:16-17, there is and a “do” and a “don’t”. Don’t use Christianity as

a cloke of maliciousness. Being mean spirited is contrary to all that we are supposed to be. Here is the “do”.  Do love the brotherhood.

     Jesus himself set the bar for love among brethren, LOVE LIKE I DO! “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one for another” (John 13:34-35). The love we are supposed to have for one another is something that people can see in us.

     Along that line, Paul writing to the congregation in Thessalonica, please note; the background for this epistle is found in Acts 17. Paul, forced to leave before he was able to ground them properly, was understandable concerned for their spiritual state. So much so, that Paul, a short time later (I Thessalonians 2:17), sent Timothy back to help ground them in the faith (I Thessalonians 3:2).

     Now having said that, there were things these new Christians (babes in Christ) had already been taught, and brotherly love was among them. “But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you, for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another” (I Thessalonians 4:9).

     What happens if we don’t have love for one another? It is not pretty! “Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not wither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes” (I John 2:8-11). That’s pretty clear. Hebrews 13:1 is the direction all of us (young and old) want to go “Let brotherly love continue”.

6.      In faith. The Bible speaks of levels of faith: No faith (Mark 4:40). Little faith

(Matthew 6:30). Weak in faith (Romans 14:1). Strong in faith (Romans 4:20). Great in faith (Matthew 8:10). The personal faith our young people want to have is strong, and great. There have been times over the years when I have looked at a family and thought, if they have any hope of heaven, it will because of their children. Of course, the reason for young Christians having a great faith is directly connected to faith as a body of doctrine.

     The one faith of Ephesians 4:5, the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3), the faith that Paul once sought to destroy, was the very same faith he now preached (Galatians 1:23).

     Young Christians must know what they believe and why they believe it. The challenge to avoid growing up in the shadow of their parent’s faith. Don’t get me wrong, parents play a powerful role in the lives of young people, but faith cannot be borrowed. There is a parallel thought found in Ezekiel 14:14. Three men were commended for their righteousness, Noah, Daniel and Job. Notice in Ezekiel 14:18; 20, their righteousness could not be transferred to their children. The next time you study the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), remember Ezekiel chapter 14, righteousness can neither be borrowed nor lent.

     The same is true of faith. Being strong in faith does not depend upon age, only effort, then you can teach others what you know and believe. I have listened to the young men here and at Vale Road, and there is no doubt in them. For example, they know that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God (John 1:14; 18; 3:16; 18; I John 4:9).

     Do you know why they believe that? Two reasons. 1) Both congregations demand faithful translations be used in preaching and teaching. 2) They have examined the evidence that warrants their faith. From the virgin birth through the cross at Calvary where Jesus voluntarily (John 10:18) died for every person (Hebrews 2:9).

     Buried in a borrowed tomb (Matthews 27:57-60), Jesus fulfilled the scriptures and rose the third day (I Corinthians 15:1-4), for it was not possible for death to hold him (Acts 2:24). Four things inseparably connected to the resurrection of Christ: 1) Jesus was declared to be the Son of God by the resurrection (Romans 1:4). 2) We are begotten to a lively hope by the resurrection of Christ (I Peter 1:3). 3) Jesus raised from the dead gives all men an assurance there will be a judgment day (Acts 17:30-31).  4) Christ was raised to reign (Romans 15:12), and he is reigning at the right hand of God (Acts 2:30-33). In short, our young people know that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God (John 20:30-31).

     Do you know what is just amazing in our day? Millions upon millions of people deny what the devils knew in the first century. “And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God…” (Luke 4:41). Now, I am not saying that you should believe that Jesus is the Son of God because devils know that to be true. But having said that, what thinking person wants to be dumber than a devil?

7.      In purity. Every generation faces challenges unique to its time, but this generation of

 young people face much as they try to live godly lives! Yet, they cannot withdraw themselves from the world, Jesus made it clear that was never the intent (John 17:15). You cannot influence the world by living in a vacuum of your own making. What did Jesus say? In the world, but not of the world (John 17:15-16). Meaning, live in the world, but don’t let the world live in you.

     The Father’s plea, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughter, saith the Lord Almighty” (II Corinthians 6:17-18).

     The inspired instruction, “I BESEECH you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2).

     Beloved, embrace the challenge to live exemplary lives. Do it for yourselves, do it that others might see and be encouraged by your devotion, do it that heaven will be your home!

Jay Yeager