If you have wisdom, that means you’re old. Right? If you have experience, that means you’ve lived a while. Right? If you are able to make decisions with a calm head and an eternal perspective because you know God is going to work everything you, that means you’re an adult. Right?
Wrong. I’ve met teenagers and young people with wisdom and experience and faith that trumps mine. So where does the idea that only the “old people” have wisdom come from? Why do people think that if you’re young, you can’t know what you’re talking about when it comes to matters of faith? It’s certainly not in Scripture.
Today’s verse is 1 Timothy 4:12.
Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.
Timothy was a man who Paul was writing to. That’s why these two letters are called 1 and 2 Timothy. But Timothy wasn’t an elderly fellow; he was young. And, if I remember right, he was a young leader of a church.
I can imagine that he ran into a lot of people who wanted to argue with him. The church of that era wasn’t just made up of young people. It was composed of people from all walks of life and all generations, and I’m sure there were some people attending who didn’t think Timothy was old enough to be leading.
But the Bible is full of references to young people who served God. Joseph. Samuel. David. King Josiah. Even up to the little boy who gave his little lunch to Jesus so he could feed thousands of people. The Bible has used young people as examples throughout history to demonstrate truth and faith to adults that don’t know how to grasp it.
The Bible encourages people to serve God while they’re young. Why? Well, to be honest, when you get older, you can’t work as well. I’m not old. Not at all, in spite of the amazing amount of gray that has been popping up in my hair. But I can tell you that there is a big difference in my energy level and my endurance from when I was 18. It was only 12 or so years ago, but I can tell a difference, mainly in how long it takes me to recover from physical exertion. When I was 18, I could move heavy furniture and climb stairs and work like mad all day long and be exhausted but be perfectly fine when I woke up the next morning. Now? Well, it takes me a day to really recover.
And when you’re young, you don’t just have energy–you have idealism. And I’m not talking about the polyannaish attitude that ignores reality and presses forward despite all rational thought. No. I’m talking about the belief that God can do anything. When you’re young, you haven’t usually experienced the ups and downs that adults have to go through, mainly because of their own poor choices. There’s still the thought that God is at work and God is working and God can use you and God can do the impossible.
Most adults don’t think like that. Life has smacked them down too hard too many times. Reality has crushed their dreams too many times. But young people have dreams, and young people who have an eternal perspective trust that God will help them achieve those dreams no matter what happens in between.
And the beautiful thing that I’ve discovered is that if you can serve God when you’re young and if you can let Him take control of your life from a young age, when you aren’t so young anymore, you’ll still have that perspective. You’ll still have your dreams. You’ll still understand that God can do anything no matter what life has done to you. You’ll have walked with God for so long that the ups and downs don’t bother you because you’ve seen Him work through worse circumstances before.
So if you’re a young believer, get your perspective straight and be an example to the “old people” around you, whether they think they need an example or not. You can make a bigger difference than you think.
And if you’re an “old believer,” open your eyes. Youth isn’t wasted on the young. It’s misdirected. Encourage the young believers around you to follow God. Don’t try to kill their dreams. Don’t think less of them because they have a positive outlook on life. And don’t discourage them from doing something crazy for God. Who knows? It just might work.