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Young People Act Your Age

Ever wonder what God might say to young people living in the 21' century? Our culture — through media and movies and music — preaches to young people and tells them that fun is more important than faith, that clothes are more important than character, that feeling good is more important than being good, and that technology is more important than trust in God. So, what would God say to the young people in our country and especially those in your life, under your care and within the sphere of your influence?

Ecclesiastes 11:8-12:1 sums up God's message to youth — "Rejoice, 0 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 in the sight of your eyes; But know that for all these God will bring you into judgment. Therefore remove sorrow from your heart, And put away evil from your flesh, For childhood and youth are vanity. Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, Before the difficult days come, And the years draw near when you say,

'I have no pleasure in them." Wow! What a beautiful, balanced message, absent the fear-mongering and scare tactics older people and preachers and parents are sometimes guilty of laying on the young. In Ecclesiastes and Proverbs, Solomon does often warn young people about dangers that range from sexual immorality to uncontrolled anger to the abuse of alcohol to the love of money. But in the passage we are considering he makes a special appeal to the young among us. From these few verses note three things God says to young people: (1) First, rejoice. That is, enjoy being young. Chill out. Don't worry, be happy! Us older folks feel compelled to always be warning you life is serious business and the world is a dangerous place, so you ought to hurry up and grow up. But you will get old soon enough, and Solomon reminds you that, meanwhile, in younger years there is freedom to enjoy life without many hindrances that will arise as the years pile up and take their toll. Enjoy being young. (2) Second, have fun — but stay within God-given boundaries. The teachings and restrictions laid out in God's Word apply to you, too. The wages of sin is death whether you are sixteen or sixty— five. Just like loving parents, God puts up fences to help and protect, not hinder and punish. And remember, "know that God will bring you into judgement." You don't get a "go past judgement" card just because you are young. (3) Third, begin to honor God very early in life. Bill Watkins told about a famous evangelist who was asked if there were any conversions in a recent meeting. He replied, "Two and a half." The questioner assumed, "Two adults and one youth?" To which the evangelist responded, "No, two young people and one adult. The adult has only half his life left to live for Christ, but the young people have their entire lives to give." The world wants to convince young people they have to give up all fun and excitement and live a bland, boring life to be a Christian. That's not what God says. He says have fun but hang onto faith. It's okay to act your age. Forget being or acting old until you get old — but don't forget God — at any age!

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ