“Oh well, they’re young. Someday they’ll grow up; they just need to get this out of their system.”
We hear people say this about teenagers that party, date around, or participate in other immoral activities. Sadly, this mindset has even crept into the church where older people will make excuses for younger Christians. God expects great things from us no matter what our age! It’s possible that God is holding you to a higher standard than the adults around you in your life today.
In the book of Jeremiah, God approaches the young man and charges him with being a prophet to the nation of Judah. Jeremiah 1:6-7 shows the following exchange between the two when Jeremiah says, “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” But the LORD said to me, ‘Say not that I am a child; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak.’” God was sending Jeremiah as a young man to go work amongst the people of Judah in one of the most difficult times in their history. He didn’t give this job to someone who had more experience than Jeremiah or who was much older, but he gave it to a young man. He told Jeremiah not to use his youth as an excuse and expects no less from any of His other children!
What God expects of you and I today is excellence. “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). While others are busy making excuses for young people, God expects you to be an example to others, even those older than you!
Timothy shares that God wants us as young people to have exemplary faith (1 Timothy 4:12). In 1 Samuel 17:33, we see where Saul tells David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth.” He says the exact same thing many of us hear today: “You are but a youth!” We all know what happened next, how David killed Goliath with a slingshot and faith. Do you know what’s remarkable about this story? David set an example for King Saul of the faith Saul should have! David was a very young man when he killed Goliath and he was setting an example for kings!
We’re supposed to be setting and showing a pattern of good works (Titus 2:7). A pattern is defined as a predictable pattern of behavior. Is your life a predictable pattern of good works and godly behavior? When people are asked about you does their mind drift to where you spent last Saturday night and the trouble you get into at school? Or do they think of the good example you set and pure life you live?
The next time you’re tempted to do wrong, remember that God wants us to “flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” ( 2 Timothy 2:22). Remember to question what will be taking place and whether righteousness will be pursued in your life if you make that choice. Are you saying “I want to go do that! I’m young!” or “Say not that I’m a child!”?
It’s hard to watch those around us having fun through bad decisions. We look at them and wonder why we can’t do that. I found a verse that helped me answer this question: “Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment” (Ecclesiastes 11:9). Even if those around walk in the way of their heart and the sight of their eyes, remember that God will bring us into judgment for all the things we do, bad and good, regardless of our age.
When Christ was only 12 years old He said, “Don’t you understand I must be about my Father’s business?”(Luke 2:49) Today embrace the duty that is yours and say not that you are a child!