What Our Youth Truly Needs (3-5-17)

How do you define the word necessity? As you answer this question, how do you determine the appropriate way of answering it? What establishes the difference between a need and a want? The purpose for this series of questions is to provoke our minds to take a brief pause in the accelerated lifestyle our society has created. This form of living has mournfully deviated the true meaning of the word need. The media outlets constantly push upon society that to have the most recent cell phone or the fastest internet are a necessity, and not a luxury. Assuredly, many justifications may have entered your mind as your eyes read these words such as “this helps facilitate communication between people in society” or “it becomes very helpful in case of an emergency.” Although it is true that these tools are helpful, it is wise to understand that they are not necessary. Need is defined as “a physiological or psychological requirement for the well-being of an organism” or “a condition requiring supply or relief” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online). In accordance to the proper interpretation of the word, a need is intertwined with the survival of a person. Therefore, how fast our internet runs or how recent our cell phone is cannot fit into the category of a necessity; by definition, it is a luxury. In this exact manner, we must provide the appropriate answer to our title’s query. It is of high importance to give due diligence to the necessities of the teenagers within a congregation. Hence, the value of grasping what a need really is. We must be precise in our understanding of the value teenagers have for a congregation. Undoubtedly, for the apostle John they were very valuable since he speaks to them directly in his first epistle (1st John 2:13-14). In this passage the inspired writer describes this importance; the apostle states, “I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the wicked one…I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one.” The apostle manifests to the young people that their strength is critical for any congregation. This virtue is visible in two undeniable truths. First, they had the strength of character to “overcome the wicked one” despite their youth. He mentions this because the immaturity of the teenager commonly works against him in the moment of temptation. His lack of experience and self-discipline makes it easy for sin to seduce the lad into her merciless grip. However, John reveals that the source of their strength is that “the word of God abides in you.” Logic dictates that in order for something to abide in someone, it must first be obtained. It is in this detail that John illuminates the second undeniable truth. Despite their youth, they gave priority to the study of Holy Scriptures. It was in their youth that they learned the importance of knowing God’s commandments, but more importantly how necessary it is to practice them at an early age. The psalmist also contributes to this lesson and elaborates about its priority, “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word” (Psalm 119:9). There is no confusion in understanding that taking heed of God’s word is the same as it abiding in the young man. The inspired poet discovers that it is by this application that a young man will “cleanse his way.” In the beginning, we discerned the difference between a necessity and a luxury. Meditating upon these words inspired by the Holy Ghost, it is imperative we accept that the diligent study of the Bible is necessary. Our definition enlightened that a need is determined by a condition requiring supply or relief in order to survive; both, John and David manifest God’s Word as the solution to the young man’s spiritual need. It is irrefutable that a man who does not diligently and properly study the Bible starves his soul from spiritual nourishment. When our physical body is malnourished, it loses strength and is unable to respond accordingly. The person cannot think soberly and makes many mistakes including some that may be very harmful to him. Ignoring this truth with our teens is similar to a parent who does not feed his child physical food. Due to the lethargy in not insisting they give priority to their biblical studies, the parent will then lament the displayed indifference of the young lad toward God. Returning to the lesson presented by the psalmist, it is evident that in stating that the young man has a need to cleanse his way, he is illustrating the corruption of sin. However, he is also alluding to the reality that “the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Genesis 8:21). Holy Writ always describes sin contaminating the heart of man, but it is in this passage where God reveals when this begins. In this same mindset, the Hebrew poet highlights how critical it is for a young man to cleanse his way at an early age. Wisely, David motivates the young people to seek Jehovah’s Law so that he may take advantage of his strength to serve God before sin’s pollution penetrates itself deep into the soul. This servant of the Lord was fully aware of how addictive sin truly is; it is the why he advises the young to take refuge in God’s perfect law. Observe the immediate context: “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11). With these words, David once more states that it is with God’s Law that man will avoid sin; however, it is also wise not to miss that he adds to his lesson from the previous verse. In mentioning that he has “hidden in” his heart (meaning the mind) God’s word, David is referring to the memorization of Scripture. Therefore emphasizing that the young man should not limit his studies to reading only, God once again illuminates how crucial it is for the teens to delve into God’s Holy Scriptures. To ignore this core lesson of what our teens truly need is unwise and foolish. Interestingly, society also places great value on the necessity of a secular education because they comprehend the contribution a well-educated man brings for them. It is incredible, however, that this diligence and urgency disappears when it pertains to the study of God’s Word. It is an utter tragedy to observe parents who are diligent in encouraging their offspring in their civil studies, but negligent in teaching the good paths of the Lord. What does our youth truly need? To be instructed and guided in the unadulterated Word of God. They need more mentors and role models to set examples for them of how to be a true servant of God; not the newest smart phone.

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