Christianity 201

January 27, 2012

Advice to the Young, and the Young at Heart

“The young are permanently in a state resembling intoxication.”

After finding a devotional on David Kenney’s blog, I decided to check first and discovered that it’s only been a month since I first introduced his writing here; a little more recent than I would have liked; but if C201 does nothing more than introduce you to the blogging and writing of others, that’s fine with me.  (This one is also part of a series which is linked in the final paragraph of today’s selection.)

He titled this one Advice For Young Men; but it occurred to me that while there are specific Bible passages that address the young in general, we live in a situation today where people in their 40s and 50s (and perhaps beyond) strongly identify with youth culture. Unless we look in the mirror, it’s easy to pretend we’re still 16 or 17 and certainly some people continue to listen to current music, dress younger than their age, and drive their cars with the recklessness that Aristotle describes in the quote above.

So whatever advice the Wisdom books such as Psalms and Proverbs, or the advice of Paul to Titus or Timothy may have to offer the younger men or younger women, it’s probably good reading for all of us, especially if there is some part of us that refuses to grow up; some part of us that leaves us prone to commit the mistakes associated with youth.

Titus 2:6-8 (CEB)

Likewise, encourage the younger men to be sensible  in every way. Offer yourself as a role model of good actions. Show integrity, seriousness,  and a sound message that is above criticism when you teach, so that any opponent will be ashamed because they won’t find anything bad to say about us.

Titus chapter two is Paul’s advocation for teaching sound doctrine, especially in contrast with false teachers. Paul starts this chapter addressing community households and he begins in a hierarchal fashion starting first with old men, then old women, then young men, then slaves….

This particular passage verse 6 and 7, might have also spoken directly to Titus himself, he was probably no more than 35.

The first thing he says to young men is “be sensible in every way.” Great advice, but incredibly hard for a young person to take. These are the years of invincibility, of testing limits and pushing boundaries, and the first thing Paul says is, “be sensible.”

How do you do that? How do you help young men get control of themselves; develop self-mastery, self-control, balance get their faculties and their appetites, their longings and the desires into harness, to develop discernment and judgment?

Aristotle once said, “The young are permanently in a state resembling intoxication.”

Sensibility is taking time to think, it’s self-restraint, it’s slowing down. Paul says, “watch where you step, watch what you say… in every way possible… give it some thought.”

Then Paul says, encourage young men to be an example and a role model to others. And then following in the continuing verse, Paul lists out a few ways the reader can be a role model.

Charles Spurgeon once said: “A man’s life is always more forcible than his speech. When men take stock of him they reckon his deeds as dollars and his words as pennies. If his life and doctrine disagree the mass of onlookers accept his practice and reject his preaching.

In other words, more weight is going to be given in how you present yourself and in how you act.

I knew a young pastor who was great in the pulpit, he was polished and professional, and very dynamic. His only downfall, he didn’t follow through with his actions. He didn’t take his own advice, he didn’t live with honesty and integrity and it cost him his position.

Remember your deeds are dollars and your words are pennies. Paul says be a role model of “good actions” and he says “show” integrity, seriousness and a sound message. How do you show those things? Read Psalm 119

Psalm 119:9 (CEB)

How can young people keep their paths pure? By guarding them according to what you’ve said

There is your answer, if you’re going to be an example in every area of your life then you’ve got to align your actions with the word of God.

So Paul says to be sensible in thought, be an example in conduct and lastly he says to offer a sound message that is above criticism.

So not only are young men to be an example in good works, not only be an example in doctrine, but also be to be an example in sound speech. That’s your conversation, those are the words that come out of your mouth.

You know a “sound message” doesn’t have to be a sermon. In fact, I’m sure it’s not. Your message is the worldview and lifestyle you project when you talk. What does your speach sound like? What words do you say? How do you describe things, talk about women? How do you describe joy and pain? Our words say much about us.

Let your speech minister grace to those who listen. Let it be health giving, life-giving, edifying, and up building. How healthy should it be? Paul says, so that it is beyond reproach. It is unable to be accused; it is unable to be condemned.

So far Paul has given us advice for Old Men, Old Women and Young Men and while of course it is good sound advice, it’s only words on a page (or computer screen) until we transform it into good actions.

~David Kenney