The Riches OF GRACE
“hath appeared to all men.” Titus 2:11
Robert W. Reed
“Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.”
+ Counsel to Young Men +
The Scripture has much to say about young men and especially youth in general. The piety of the next generation is based on the integrity of the young men in the present generation. No one understands this more than Satan, our adversary. The Bible gives many examples of godly young men who served their generation in the advancement of God’s kingdom among God’s people. There are also examples given of those who rebelled against God’s Word. May every young man take delight in the counsel of the Lord and take warning also.
“Youth is the seed-time of full age, the molding season in the little space of human life, the turning point in the history of man’s mind.”
- J.C. Ryle (1816-1900)
This article will focus on the counsel for young men, warning to young men, and examples of godly young men given in the Scripture.
Counsel for Young Men
In Titus 2:6-8, the apostle speaks of the duties of young men, “Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.” Young men here are spoken of as a class in need of special exhortation. After speaking to the aged men and women, and young women, the attention is turned toward young men in verse 6. The chapter begins with the issue of sound doctrine (verse 1), and according to verse 5, if it is not obeyed, the Word of God is blasphemed. Please notice the list of words that describe sound doctrine beginning with a sober mind and ending in verse 8 with sound speech. These three verses show the piety and integrity of a godly young man. He is to be an example of true holiness in every way. His life is to adorn the doctrine of God in verse 10. As a frame can enhance the beauty of a picture, our Christian life is to add luster to the gospel. A holy life actually makes attractive the gospel to those who behold it. Titus himself was a young minister who was admonished to be a pattern or model to those he ministered (verse 7).
In I Timothy 4:12 the apostle also counseled Timothy in this matter, “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.” Timothy, as a young man and minister, was to live his life in such a way that no one could speak against him. Timothy was probably younger than most of the presbyters and his respect from them would come from a sanctified life before them. In I John 2:13-14, the Lord gave praise to the young men who had gotten victory over the world and remained strong in the faith.
Warning to Young Men
Warning is given in II Timothy 2:22, to avoid youthful sins at all cost, “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” Timothy was probably in his 30’s when given this warning. Even as a young minister, he was subject to the same temptations as other young men. Many lives have been ruined because of youthful sins and wasted years cannot be retrieved. The world calls it, “Just sowing wild oats,” but God calls it sin and there will be a harvest time (Galatians 6:7-9).
The reason that youthful sins are so dangerous is that, in youth, passions are strongest, strength is at its height and folly is at it’s worst. In the time of our youth there is peer pressure, unsteadiness, foolishness, extremism, and restlessness. There is experimentation because all is new to us; there is an idealistic view of life instead of reality. Young men more than anyone else break from religion. There is also the danger of pride, idleness, pleasure seeking, hastiness, and self-confidence. Adam Clark said, “Carnal desires are the sins of youth; ambition and love of power the sins of middle age; covetousness; and carking cares the crimes of old age.” Young men must remember that their heart is corrupt from birth (Ecclesiastes 7:20, 29) and they can only be guided by the Word of God (Psalm 119:9, 11). In other words, don’t follow your heart, for it will lead you astray.
Many young men have chosen the wrong path and have brought shame to themselves and their family. Job prayed for his sons even after they were grown, for he knew the folly of youth (Job 1:5). Young Esau sold his birth right and rejected his parents in the area of marriage (Hebrews 12). Simeon and Levi brought disgrace to their family through acts of violence and revenge (Genesis 34). The following is a list of other young men who made youthful mistakes: Hophin and Phineas, Amnon, Absalom, Adonjah, Lot, Samson, Rehoboam, and the prodigal son. Young men need to keep watch over their eyes, heart, and even the companions they have.
Examples of Good Young Men
There are many examples of good and godly young men in Scripture. To begin with, the Lord Jesus is found at twelve years of age concerned with His Father’s business, sitting in the temple listening to the teachers (Luke 2:41-49). Solomon, as a young man, spoke of himself as a child (I Kings 3:3-12). Humility was the beginning of Solomon’s wisdom. David, when seventeen years of age stood tall among his people in his battle with God’s enemies (I Samuel 17) He was a man after God’s own heart and served his generation (Acts 13:36). Daniel, carried captive as a young boy to Babylon, purposed in his heart that he would serve God (Daniel 1:8). His enemies could find no fault in him (Daniel 6:5). Samuel was dedicated to the Lord from birth and God began speaking to him at a very early age (I Samuel 3:1-10, 19-21). Joseph was seventeen years of age when God began to speak to him by dreams (Genesis 37:1-11). God used this young man to save his entire family from destruction (Genesis 50:18:21). Another extraordinary young man was Josiah (II Chronicles 34). He came to the throne at eight years of age and at a very early age, God began dealing with his heart. He brought reform and revival to the nation of Israel during his time. Moses, when he came to years chose to follow God and suffer affliction with God’s people (Hebrews 11:24-28). These are just a few examples of young men that God used in a mighty way when their hearts were dedicated to his service.
In Ecclesiastes 11:9-10, God speaks directly to young men concerning their walk with God, “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.” Then in Ecclesiastes 12:1, the youth are admonished to never forget the Lord, “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.” That is, serve God while you are strong and full of life. Give God your best years. He is your creator. He gave you not only eternal life but physical life also. This book closes with these words, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).
Blessings and warning stand before every young man. The choice is yours, live for God, be pleasing to Him in your youth and there will be no regrets in old age. Bear the yoke in your youth for this is good (Lamentations 3:27). Give God your all for He gave His only Son that you might be saved (John 3:16).
“Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.” Psalm 119:9
“I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.” Proverbs 8:17
“By the shoot we judge the tree,
by the blossoms we judge the fruit,
by the spring we judge the harvest,
by the morning we judge the day,
and by the character of the young
man we may generally judge
what he will be
when he grows up.”
J.C. Ryle (1816-1900)
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” Acts 16:31
Victory Baptist Church
Pastor Robert W. Reed
14473 Bellingrath Road
P.O. Box 257
Coden, Alabama 36523