The Young Christian!
One of Paul's counsels to Timothy was, "Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity!" 1 Timothy 4:12
Every young man should live a life which will command the respect of those who know him, and which will lead none to despise him.
It is a great thing to be young. Those who are old have passed over their course of life. If they have lived well, they can rejoice in their attainments and achievements. If they have failed through neglect, carelessness, indolence, or sin — then it is too late to retrieve their losses. But young people stand at the beginning of life, with all its magnificent opportunities yet within their reach. It should fill young hearts with enthusiasm to look forward into years which hold so much of possibility for them.
But youth is a time, also, of responsibility — for then the choices must be made, the foundations of character must be laid, and the preparation for life and service must be secured.
Some young people seem to have no conception, however, of their responsibility. They merely drift with the current, too often the current of self-indulgence and pleasure-seeking, without entering heartily or vigorously upon the work before them. If they would be ready to take the places that are waiting for them, they must make the most careful preparation.
One of the most successful business men in this country said recently that the secret of the failure of many men, lies in their lack of thoroughness in beginning life. A young man gets a position and then is satisfied merely to fill it without any thought of making himself capable of anything better. The result is he stays in that position, never advancing beyond it.
A railroad president gave this advice to young men: "Let every man, in public or private business, whether he is working for himself or for another — more than fill the position he occupies. When he does that, and has established the fact that he can more than fill that position — then a wider one will open to him. And then he will have an opportunity to do more than fill that, and he will thus go onward and upward, until he finally reaches the highest step in his profession or calling."
If young men would live so that none will despise their youth — then they must be energetic. Youth is the time when one should be strong and full of enthusiasm. Yet some young men seem never to wake up out of their indolent languor. They seem to have been born tired and always to have remained in that state.
No one honors an indolent young man. The youth that lacks energy, earnestness and enthusiasm — is justly despised.
Good men always despise a youth who needs to be helped at every point. There are some young men who have no idea of doing anything for themselves — which they can get anybody else to do for them! They want to have their burdens carried by others. They want someone to do all the hard thinking for them. They like to have money to spend — but they want it to be earned by the sweat of some other person's brow. They have no idea of relying upon themselves, or fighting their own battles, or carrying their own loads.
If a young man would have others honor his youth, he must learn personal responsibility and self-reliance. He must not be afraid of hard work. He must not expect other people to carry his burdens.
Our best friend never is the one who does the most for us, who brings to our lives gifts and favors — without any exertion of our own. Our best friend is he who sends us out to carve the way for ourselves, to gather the gold and gems of life with our own hands.
If young men would have their youth honored, they must live up to their Christian profession. There are some young men who take their place in the Church confessing Christ before men, and yet who fail to live out what they promise in the world of strife, struggle, temptation and service. The true Christian is one who not only confesses Christ in his church and among Christian people — but one who confesses Christ just as earnestly, as sincerely, as faithfully all the weekdays, out in the world. It is not enough to be Christly on Sundays — one must be a Christian Mondays and Tuesdays as well. It is not enough to be a faithful Christian among Christian people — one must be loyal to Christ where Christ is not loved and honored. We must be consistent and true in all our life.
When Paul says, "Let no man despise your youth," he means that a Christian young man must make his life so noble, so worthy, so true — that no one shall sneer at his religion or call him an unworthy follower of his Master. There is no reason why a young Christian should not make his youth honored among men.