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Foundation Truth, Number 13 (Spring 2006) | Timeless Truths Publications

“I Write unto You, Young Men”

“I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.”* (1 John 2:14)

“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.”* (Ecclesiastes 11:9-10)

Dear young men, this scripture is for you. God understands the advantages and disadvantages of each stage of our lives down here, and gave to the inspired writer these words to pass on to you. But what does this mean? Have a good time, when at the same time you are supposed to be thinking about eternal consequences and that this time of life is all meaningless anyway?

Let us examine, for a moment, this quote from Behold Your King:

Jonathan, son of Simeon, son of Ezra, stretched one long brown arm and then the other, yawned and reluctantly opened his eyes. Presently he closed them again, for the sunlight around him was dazzlingly brilliant. Again he yawned, this time very audibly, and stretched his long legs until his joints protested, also audibly, and that brought a grin to his big mouth.

“Jonathan ben Simeon, ben Ezra,” he addressed himself, “old age threatens you.” Then, just to prove he could, he sat up without aid from his hands, and with a quick spring brought his long body to a standing position. He was grinning with satisfaction at his youth and strength….

[Florence M. Bauer; Behold Your King, “Chapter 1”]

This young man found satisfaction in his youthful strength and vitality. I did, too, when I was younger, just as I find satisfaction now in solving computer problems at my work, or being able to pass on the benefits of my experience to my children. There is, to every phase of life, certain benefits that we naturally enjoy. Just as people are prone to take created things and exalt them too highly, sometimes even worshiping them instead of the Creator, so we are prone to take certain aspects of living and certain stages of living and exalt them highly.

Our society puts a great deal of emphasis on retaining the advantages of youth (health, strength, etc.). These advantages certainly appear worthy of retention, do they not? And yet, one day, perhaps coming suddenly, perhaps coming gradually, I will no longer have those advantages. Perhaps I will linger a number of years with greatly reduced health and strength, or perhaps I will suddenly die, but on the day of judgment, no youthful health and strength will be of any help, whether I had it when I died, or had lost it long before. The fact that I was at one time full of the advantages of youth will be of no help whatsoever, and have no bearing on my eternal destiny. That is why “childhood and youth are vanity.”

But here is this counsel: “Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth.” Every gift of God is to be received with joy and thanksgiving. After days of foggy weather, I delight in seeing a beautiful sunrise, even knowing that it will soon pass and that more unpleasant weather may follow. Why? In one sense, because the present is what we were designed in our bodies to enjoy most. In a more important sense, because it is a gift from God. Does my wife fret when I give her pretty flowers, because soon thy will wilt? No, she rejoices, both in their present beauty, and in the expression of my love for her. I enjoyed (and still enjoy in a measured way) the benefits that youthful strength and energy bring. I now enjoy, more and more, the benefits of experience and the opportunity to shape young lives that “middle age” brings to a family man, and am trusting God to help me enjoy as much of the benefits of “old age” as much as He sees fit to extend old age to me. I am increasingly aware of the disadvantages of old age, but at the same time, I am grateful for escaping more and more the disadvantages of youth.

Now consider the admonition: “but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.” The strength, resiliency and capacity to enjoy physical pleasures that is given to young men is quite capable of leading to evil. It is no mere coincidence that more crimes, particularly violent ones, are committed by young men than any other age group; that more vehicle accidents occur involving young men than any other age group; that more dangerous stunts of all kinds are attempted by young men than any other age group. Young men, you need the Lord’s help! You need to live with the awareness that your actions are weighed by God and have eternal consequences. You need very much to seek the Lord to see if He would be pleased with any of those many things you could enjoy doing or are capable of doing. Your relative strength suggests inexhaustible strength, but you don’t have it. You can do things that will break down your health and strength prematurely. Your relative resiliency suggests indestructibility, but you don’t have it. You can kill or seriously injure yourself, and others you care about. Your enjoyment of life suggests (and the devil suggests) that you ought always to satisfy your desires for pleasure, but many are unlawful, and intemperance carries hidden dangers you cannot now see. Your relative quickness of mind suggests unlimited wisdom, but you don’t have it. You can convince yourself and quite possibly others to do things which seem wise to you but are really, really stupid!

“Therefore remove sorrow from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh.” The word translated sorrow means “anger, vexation, provocation, grief.” This is really addressing some of the weakness of youth—the tendency to get provoked by the slowness, weakness, feebleness of mind, etc., of others not in your stage of life, and the tendency to let the lusts of the flesh take over and lead you into sin. The Lord wants you to enjoy the benefits of your stage of life without succumbing to the perils. He wants you to appreciate the gift without valuing it more than the Giver, without clinging to it when it is worn out, and without it turning into a snare for you.

Oh, young men, “rejoice,” and draw near to God, and you will be able to do those things that will bring to you and others eternal benefit.