THE EFFECTS OF THE ACTIVITIES OF YOUTH
by Wayne S. Walker
In Psa 25:7, David asked God, "Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions; according to Your mercy remember me, For Your goodness’ sake, O Lord." We do not know what David’s age was when he wrote this psalm, but he was obviously old enough to pray that the Lord would not remember the sins of his youth. Many of us have reached an age at which, based upon the experiences that we have had from our youth up, we can offer what we believe is some good advice to those who are younger. Sometimes we have done good things in which we want to encourage you to imitate our example as we have tried to follow Christ (1 Cor 11:1). Other times, we may have made mistakes of which we want to warn you of the consequences. In these we are not saying, "Do as I say and not as I do," but rather learn from our errors as we have tried to correct them and bring our lives more into harmony with God’s will. Here are some suggestions for young people to help make it more likely that they will not feel as necessary to ask God not to remember the sins of their youth.
First, be careful how you spend your time. The old saying is, "An idle mind is the devil’s workshop, and idle hands are the devil’s tools." While there is always a need for some recreation, entertainment, and rest, most often it is helpful to keep busy. "See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil" (Eph 5:15-16). What are some things that a young person can do to keep busy? Assist your parents with the chores and work around the house. Be helpful to others, especially those who are older or infirm and could use some aid in their activities. Pursue a worthwhile hobby that you are interested in. Get a part-time job, so long as it does not interfere with your service to the Lord. But most importantly, make sure that you spend some time engaged in the Lord’s work. Study your Bible and pray to the Lord every day. And try to talk to your friends about the gospel. One does not need to be an adult to accomplish good for Christ. "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 Tim 4:12).
Second, be careful how you choose your friends. While it is obvious that we cannot avoid all contact with the wicked, the Bible suggests that there are certain kinds of people with whom a young person who wants to please God should not associate on a close and regular basis. "Do not be envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them; for their heart devises violence, and their lips talk of troublemaking" (Prov 24:1). Most parents are always concerned about the friends that their children have because Paul reminds us, "Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits’" (1 Cor 15:33). Yet it is good to have friends, so to whom should a young person relate? Of course, if possible, we should always prefer to be friends with other Christians. If that is not always possible, then we should try to make friends with those who have the same basic standards and ideals that we do. "Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern" (Phil 3:17).
Third, be careful what you put in your mind. What we allow in our minds is important because it will have an influence on us one way or another. Remember GIGO (garbage in–garbage out)? This is why Solomon says, "Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life" (Prov 4:23). There are some things that we should avoid putting in our minds. "Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor 10:5). I would suggest two things from which it would be good to stay away. The first is mental poison, such as pornography (whether in picture, print, or music) because it is extremely harmful. The second is what I call too much "stuffing," meaning harmless pursuits of this world–sports would be one example that comes to mind–that are not necessarily wrong in themselves but if one fills his mind with too much of it it will not produce any real good. So, what should we put in our minds? "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things" (Phil 4:8).
From experience, most of us who are older can tell you without doubt that following these bits of advice will help you to "Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, ‘I have no pleasure in them’" (Eccl 12:1). Grandma always told us, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." While God is willing and able to forgive, it is far better to exercise proper control of one’s mind and life in the days of his youth than spending the rest of his time in regret. "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life" (Gal 6:7-8).
(—From Faith and Facts Quarterly; July, 2006; Vol. 34, No. 3; pp. 345-348)