©Fundamental Evangelistic Association
Lead by Example
Consider this ...
Many people tend to think of today's youth as the leaders of tomorrow. But Scripture
never places us in such a category. It never instructs us to wait until we
are more mature or knowledgeable or skilled before we begin to take God's
Word seriously and consider what plans and purposes the Lord has for our
lives. According to God's Word, we are to be leaders even today who earnestly
desire to honor and serve our Lord in all our thoughts and actions. Paul
told Timothy, a younger man in the faith, ;"Let no man despise thy youth;
but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity,
in spirit, in faith, in purity" (1 Tim. 4:12). God specifically commands
us, as young people, to be leaders—to lead by example. We are to understand
God's instructions to us and let the world watch us grow in our spiritual
walk with the Lord.
As a young person myself, I am burdened for the church in the days ahead,
and I am burdened for today's youth who must not only strive to live exemplary
lives right now (that is, a life that is an example for others to follow),
but who will one day attempt to serve as faithful leaders within the body
of Christ, the church. I am burdened because it is not getting any easier
to live in this world. I am burdened because young Christians today often
fail to understand that God desires to have a close, intimate relationship
with them right now, a relationship that only comes about when we obey the
Scriptures. Sadly, many young people often feel as though God will only use
them or speak to them through His Word when they grow older. Yet this is
certainly not true!
I know that many adults do not always provide the right examples for us to
follow. Some are downright hypocritical. Others do not even seem to care
what God's Word has to say at all. Others may truly desire to follow Christ
but find themselves more interested in what some individual has to say or
what some program has to offer rather than what God's Word teaches. Today,
as many older believers tend to disregard the teaching of God's Word in order
to be accepted by others, we who are younger are witnessing this tragic compromise,
this disregard for Biblical truth.
Often, many of our peers (or maybe we ourselves) are following in the footsteps
of our errant elders and copying their unscriptural attitudes and philosophies
of ministry. Maybe we feel as though we should worship and unite with others
even though they do not agree with us concerning what the Bible teaches.
Maybe we feel as though we should join a "cooler," more "alive" church.
Maybe we feel that we should live like the world, act like the world, talk
like the world and dress like the world in order to witness to the unsaved.
Maybe we feel as if our outward actions do not really matter to God as long
as we are sincere and our motives are pure.
Yet despite the mixed signals and poor examples often set by those around
us, young and old alike, God wants us to honor Him, obey Him and lead by
example. The Word of God is not silent concerning the conduct of young people
and their role in the church and in society. I believe that as young people
today, we must seriously consider what God's Word has to say to us. Are we
measuring up to what God wants us to be? Are we just following the crowd,
or do we stand out as those who desire to be faithful and holy despite the
hypocrisy and compromise all around us on the part of both adults and other
I understand the struggles and pressures faced by young people today. Having
been educated in both Christian schools and public universities, I certainly
understand the unique tests and trials that accompany those younger believers
who attend either Christian schools or public ones. Even those who are home
schooled are not exempt from peer pressure and from the pressure of the media
to conform to the standards and lifestyles of the world. All of us are bombarded
by television programs, commercials, music, billboards, video games, magazines,
newspapers and movies that give us the impression that to rebel against all
authority is cool; that parents are old, out-of-touch "has beens" who
do not know what they are talking about; that sex, lust and immorality are
perfectly acceptable as long as one is honest and responsible.
We are being targeted whether we realize it or not! Advertisers today specifically
target our generation. They slyly pressure us to buy their products so that
we can feel stylish and cool. We are constantly pressured by the media to
conform to the standards of the world and to be accepted by the unsaved within
society. Why? Because it is financially beneficial to them. They use us for
our money and could care less about our physical or spiritual well-being.
Sadly, even young people who profess to be saved are largely responsible
for pressuring other Christian young people to live like the world, act like
the world, talk like the world and dress like the world. How are we to respond
to these pressures?
First, we all must realize that the ideas and philosophies of the world are
completely opposed to God's will and plan for us. The world tells us to "live
it up" as young people while we can. The immorality and worldliness
embraced and practiced by many of our peers are often excused even by those
who are older than us who say, "They're just kids," or "They're
only young once... let them live and enjoy all the world has to offer while
they still can."
But notice what the wisest man who ever lived wrote by inspiration of the
Holy Spirit in Ecclesiastes 12:1. King Solomon wrote: "Remember now
thy Creator in the days of thy youth." Notice that Solomon did not say: "Live
it up while you are young, and later on you will have the opportunity to
serve and glorify God." No, he said exactly the opposite. He tells young
people, "Now is the time to focus on your relationship with God, the
Creator of all things."
The attitudes of the world in which we live completely contradict the exhortations
found in God's Word. Even in 1 Timothy 4:12, Paul does not tell Timothy, "Since
you are young, you have God's permission to live a wild lifestyle if you
will promise to live for Him when you get older." Nor does Paul tell
Timothy, "While you are young, give the older generation a reason or
an excuse to get on your case about the way you are living and acting." On
the contrary, the apostle commands Timothy to do exactly the opposite! This
young man is instructed to live a blameless life and be an example to others
so those who are older will not have a reason to look down on him.
Second, we must realize that the older generation who often "gets on
our case" is not solely to blame. Many young people today do everything
in their power to rebel and shock those who are older. Our generation frequently
gives our elders good reasons to criticize our attitudes and behavior. But
Paul tells Timothy: "Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example."
See, we find from this verse that Paul tells Timothy to silence those who
would be critical of his age by living an exemplary life. When Paul says, "Let
no man despise thy youth,"
he is telling Timothy, "Don't let older men and women look down on you
simply because you are young." How is Timothy to enforce this command?
He must not give them a reason to do so. Instead, he must live a life that
is blameless and be an example to believers and unbelievers alike of how
to honor and please God. To be an example "of the believers"
means he is to be an example to other believers as well as to those who are
In the New Testament, Paul also addressed another young man, Titus, and told
him, "In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine
shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech, that cannot be condemned;
that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing
to say of you" (Titus 2:7,8). As a young man, Titus was to be an example,
a pattern, to all other believers in many areas of his life including his
doctrine, his speech and his sincerity. Living an exemplary life was not
only honoring to God, but it also stopped the mouths of those who would be
critical of him simply because he was young.
No one today can claim that young people do not have the ability to be leaders,
to be righteous, to be holy or even to understand the teaching of the Word
of God (correct doctrine). No, both Timothy and Titus were urged to be examples
in all areas of their lives. Paul trusted Timothy to the extent that he even
commanded him to stay in the city of Ephesus in order to "charge [command]
some that they teach no other doctrine" (1 Tim. 1:3). That was certainly
a big responsibility for a young man!
First Timothy 4:12 is such an important verse, for it gives us six areas in
which we as young people are to be examples to other believers and unbelievers.
As you look carefully at each point, search your heart and ask yourself whether
or not you are measuring up as a Godly example to other young people and
older individuals alike. We must be an example of the believers:
We need to be an example to others in our speech. To be an example "in
word" involves our choice of words, the content of our words and the
delivery of our words. Our vocabulary must be free from the swearing, cursing
and filth that permeates the hearts and minds of the unsaved. Scripture tells
us that "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh" (Matt.
12:34). Therefore, when our tongues spew forth cursings or filthy, unseemly
words, we know that a spiritual problem exists within our hearts that goes
deeper than that which simply comes out of our mouths.
As believers, we should never imitate the vile language of the unsaved. Rather,
we should desire for every word that we say to be acceptable in the sight
of God (read Psa. 19:14). We must keep in mind that one day we will be held
accountable for our words, even if we say them without thinking first (see
Matt. 12:36). Therefore, we should be certain that we "let no corrupt
communication proceed out of [our] mouth" (Eph. 4:29).
Not only must we be an example in our choice of words, but we must be sure
that the content of our speech is wholesome and edifying. When we open our
mouths, do we tend to rip apart certain individuals who come to our mind?
Is our speech full of gossip and harmful backbiting? Is our conversation
pleasing to God, or do we tend to repeat the latest off-color joke to our
friends in order to get a laugh? We must consider these questions. God's
Word tells us that when we are saved we are to "put off ... filthy communication
out of [our] mouth" (Col. 3:8).
Finally, the delivery of our words must also be honoring to God and exemplary
before the world. Unless we speak intelligibly and articulately, we will
immediately lose the respect and attention of those to whom we are speaking.
We must be good communicators. When we pepper our sentences with the latest
slang and slurs or when we mumble under our breath or speak so quickly that
people cannot understand what we are saying, we will not be able to gain
the attention of those with whom we wish to communicate. By not communicating
articulately, intelligently and clearly, we can forfeit an opportunity to
not only be a good example but to present the Gospel to the lost or to edify
another believer who needs to hear a word of encouragement.
The Bible provides us with a good example of a young man who carefully chose
his words, spoke the truth and clearly articulated his message. In 1 Samuel
3 we read about Samuel, a young man whom God specifically used to be His
spokesman to the nation of Israel. In verse 19, God's Word says, "And
Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him, and did let none of his words fall
to the ground."
Samuel gained favor in the eyes of God and of men (1 Sam. 2:26) because he
served the Lord and plainly spoke the very words God had given him to speak.
Had Samuel ruined his testimony through filthy language, slanderous gossip
or unintelligible speech, this young man would not have been able to be used
so mightily for the work and glory of the Lord.
We also need to be an example to others in our conduct. To be an example of
the believers "in conversation" involves our conduct (behavior)
and our lifestyle. How do we act around other people within our church or
society, whether young or old, saved or unsaved? Do we try to be as difficult,
as cool, as rebellious, as wild or as nonconformist as we can possibly be?
Or do we conduct ourselves in a manner that sets us apart from the world
and causes others to see something different in us? When others observe our
behavior, can they conclude that we are young people of integrity, discernment
and knowledge? If not, then we must change!
In Ephesians 4:22-30, God's Word tells us that when we are saved, we are to "put
off the former conversation [the way we lived and acted prior to our salvation]" which
includes lying, anger, stealing, filthy language, bitterness, wrath and evil
speaking. We must act differently than those who do not know Christ, for
the Holy Spirit indwells us and is grieved when we live like the world. Under
no circumstances are we to imitate the world. Those Christians who think
they can be like the world in order to reach the world for Christ or who
think they can remain attached to worldly pleasures, attitudes or behaviors
without experiencing the disapproval of the Lord are only deceiving themselves,
grieving the Holy Spirit and bringing reproach to the name of Christ.
Not only are we to be examples in our conduct and behavior, but in our lifestyle
as well. As believers, our interests and our priorities must be aligned with
the revealed will of God as found only in His Word. Rather than being drawn
to the amusements of the world, we must see to it that our lives honor and
glorify our Savior. Once again, God's Word declares that we are to be holy "in
all manner of conversation [lifestyle]," that is, we are to be separated
from the world and set apart unto Christ in every area of our lives (Rom.
So many young people today profess to know Christ as their Savior, yet they
try to stay as close to the world and its pleasures as they possibly can. "Christian" rock
tattoos and body piercings, "Christian" concerts and now even "Christian"
bars and night clubs are all aimed at allowing young people to "Christianize"
the sins of the world. But the Word of God declares that the world and all
therein is "darkness" rather than light. It commands us to "love
not the world, neither the things that are in the world" (1 Jn. 2:15).
Although we are in the world, we are not of the world. The Bible says,
"For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of
the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world"
(1 Jn. 2:16).
We must not embrace the world system and its vain pleasures once we have become
a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). God is light; the world is darkness.
Our love, loyalty and allegiance will go to one or the other. Light and darkness
cannot coexist. Love for the things of the world and love for Christ are
Perhaps this area of conduct and lifestyle is the most difficult area for
most of us as young people to conquer through obedience to the Word of God.
But once again, the Bible provides us with an account of several young people
who exemplified what it means to be blameless in conduct and lifestyle even
though the pressures they faced were far greater than any pressures we may
encounter today. They proved that a Godly lifestyle can be accomplished!
In Daniel chapter one, we find that Daniel and his three young friends remained
true to their God despite being taken captive and subjected to pagan beliefs
and practices. They were strangers in a foreign land who found themselves
separated from their families and friends. They had every opportunity to
begin enjoying the sinful, worldly attractions and entertainment that surrounded
them in the land of Babylon, for there were no Godly adults to tell them
what to do or what to refrain from doing. Yet they refused to defile themselves
with the pleasures, foods and amusements of the pagan Babylonian lifestyle.
Why? Because their convictions were their own. Other young Israelites were
also taken captive, but they gave in to the pressures to conform to the wicked
Babylonian lifestyle. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego did what was
right because they were young people with personal conviction. God rewarded
them for their separation from the world. Their behavior and lifestyle remained
exemplary throughout their captivity. We need to remember this account of
Daniel and his three friends when it seems as though it is impossible for
us to be different from the world or even from fellow Christians who are
following the world.
We also need to be an example to others by showing love and concern for the
well-being of other believers and unbelievers. The word "charity," or "love," in
this verse does not speak of affection or friendship, but rather of an unselfish,
sacrificial love for another. This agape love (agape is the Greek word from
which our English word "charity" [or "love"] is translated
in this text) means that we love our fellow Christians to the extent that
we sacrifice our own time, comfort or popularity in order to build them up
in the faith.
When we truly love others as we should, we will sometimes need to reprove
and correct them when they begin to move in the wrong direction, even though
doing so might cause them to feel resentful toward us. We must understand
that this agape love is not shown by doing what the one we love desires,
but what is needful for them. This is the same love Christ had for us when
He died on the cross for our sins. As ungodly "enemies" of God
(see Rom. 5:8-10), we did not want Him to die for us. But because He loved
us so much, He died for us anyway because He knew that was best for us; He
knew we needed a Savior, a Substitute to pay the price of our sin on Calvary's
cross. First John 4:10, 11 says, "Herein is love, not that we loved
God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation [the wrath-removing
sacrifice] for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love
If Christ loved us to such a great extent, should not we love our Christian
friends in like manner? For example, when we see a friend begin to hang around
with the wrong crowd or begin to grow indifferent or apathetic towards the
things of the Lord, we must confront him in a kind, gentle manner and inform
him that he is heading in a destructive direction. Of course, our friend
probably will not appreciate it at the time and perhaps may not appreciate
such concern and reproof for many years to come. But our prerogative is to
love them; and true, sacrificial, selfless love will lead us to warn our
friends about their potentially destructive behavior or attitudes.
Not only must we love our Christian friends, but we must also love the unsaved.
We need to be an example of the believers by telling others about what Christ
has done for them. I believe we especially need to give this message to other
young people who will often listen to what we have to say but will rarely
listen to other adults. What a marvelous privilege it is to be able to share
the life-changing message with others—that Jesus died for their sins
and that through trusting in His substitutionary death and resurrection they,
too, can possess peace with God and a personal relationship with their Creator.
Jesus Christ Himself is the perfect picture of a young man who loved all men.
As a young boy, He obeyed His parents and honored them in everything He did.
As a young man of only 33 years old, Jesus suffered a cruel death on Calvary's
Cross. Do we love others as Jesus loved all men? Are we willing to even suffer
rejection and scorn in order to help our Christian friends and to witness
to those who do not know Christ?
Not only do we need to be an example of the believers in our speech, our conduct
and our love for others, but we also need to be an example to others in our
inward attitudes. To be an example "in spirit" means to not only
outwardly do what we know is right and honoring to God, but to do it with
the right attitude. Often, when parents, teachers, pastors or employers tell
us to do something, we do it because we have no choice but to obey. Yet inwardly,
we are frustrated, irritated or outright angry about what we are commanded
to do, and we let everyone know how we feel through our less-than-joyful
response. Our facial expressions, our mannerisms or even the tone of our
voice often reveals the attitude of our heart.
We all can think of times when we have ruined our testimonies before other
believers or even unbelievers, not because we failed to be responsible or
obedient, but because others noticed that our attitude was downright ugly.
God's Word teaches us, on the other hand, to do everything to the glory of
God (1 Cor. 10:31). The apostle Paul tells us, "And whosoever ye do,
do it heartily [that is, with your whole heart], as to the Lord, and not
unto men" (Col. 3:23). It is impossible for us to genuinely do everything
to the glory of God and simultaneously possess a bad attitude.
To be an example of the believers in spirit means that we not only do all
to God's glory with a proper attitude but it means that our inner-man conforms
to the will of Christ. Are we selfless, meek and humble, or are we proud,
arrogant and boastful (see Phil. 2:3-4 and 1 Peter 5:5-6)? To be an example
in spirit also means that we are sincere in everything we do (Josh. 24:14)
and that we are forgiving toward those who have wronged us or falsely accused
us (Eph. 4:32). The deeds of our spirit involve all our innermost qualities
and characteristics. We must be sure that we are doing what is right for
the right reason. A pure, selfless spirit will result in an attitude that
is glorifying to God and edifying to those around us.
An excellent Biblical example of a young person who exemplified a proper spirit
is David. Although Samuel anointed David to be king of Israel when he was
just a youth, David never let his prestigious position go to his head. Prior
to actually becoming king of Israel, David continued to honor the present
king, Saul, with an upright spirit despite the fact that Saul was jealous
of David and had even tried to kill him. Although David once had the opportunity
to kill Saul as he slept, he refused to do so and, instead, he cut off a
portion of Saul's robe as a sign to the king that he could have killed him
but that he chose to spare his life instead. However, knowing that Saul was
still God's anointed king, David's conscience bothered him because he had
even gone so far as to cut off a portion of Saul's robe in the first place
(notice 1 Samuel 24:4-6). David respected and honored Saul. He was a Godly
example of what it means to possess a humble, righteous spirit despite difficult
As Christian young people, we also need to be an example to others in our
faith. This means that we must know what we believe and we must know why
we believe it. The word "faith"
in this verse does not simply mean that we have a belief in something, but
that we are firmly convicted in our belief. We are to know and study God's
message to us, His Word, and we are to be fully persuaded and convicted that
His instructions to us are our final authority in all matters of life.
However, it is important to realize that we cannot have true convictions unless
we truly know what God's Word has to say concerning how to live our lives.
If someone questions our beliefs, can we show them from Scripture the basis
for our beliefs? We need to set aside time each day to not just read the
Bible, but to study It! Do not neglect studying God's Word simply because
you think you do not have enough time. One famous preacher, Charles Haddon
Spurgeon, once stated, "I would rather let my soul soak in half a dozen
verses of the Bible all day than rinse my hand in several chapters."
The point is this--be sure to study God's Word, and do not rush through It.
Oftentimes, we begin a Bible reading schedule, and after a few weeks, or
even a few days, we are behind and simply give up reading the Bible altogether.
When this happens, or perhaps if this is the case right now, forget the failed
attempt and move on--start reading and studying the Bible again today! Even
if you can only manage to get through a few verses each day, it is important
that you do not neglect to daily walk with your God by reading His Word and
communicating with Him through prayer.
Our personal walk with God is more important than anything else in this world!
If our daily time of personal, quiet fellowship with God is neglected, then
we will fail to be the kind of Godly examples we need to be in word, in conversation,
in charity, in spirit, in faith and in purity.
Sadly, many young people and older people alike have lost their faith and
their confidence, either in the truths of God's Word or in the world around
them. They feel as though they cannot believe in anything anymore. People
have failed them. Churches have disappointed them. Friends and family members
have used them and deserted them. They feel like it is no longer possible
to be certain about anything. Their hopelessness and lack of confidence is
evident in their lifestyles, their music, their books, their appearance and
Other professing Christian young people sometimes feel that what they believe
is not even that important. They think God's Word is not entirely applicable
to them, or they cling to the idea that the truths contained in God's Word
can be altered and changed as culture and society shifts all around us. They
are not grounded in the truths of God's Word. They echo the pleas of the
compromising adults who are urging all denominations or all religions to
forget their differences and join together in common cause. This unscriptural
attitude that disregards Biblical doctrine for the sake of "unity" permeates
our society today at all levels, even among youth.
Still other young people feel that everything is fine with their lives. They
feel as though they do not need a close relationship with Christ, or perhaps
they think that they actually do possess a proper relationship with Him when,
in reality, they do not. These young people quickly throw their "faith" out
the window when it is not convenient or advantageous for them to hold to
it. They know what God's Word says on a particular topic, but they are not
willing to obey It and apply It to their own lives.
But as young people today who are exhorted to be examples "in faith," we
need to believe in Christ, believe the Bible, be grounded in our faith and
be ready to be faithful to our Lord no matter who or what disappoints us.
God tells us in His Word to "grow in faith" (2 Thess. 1:3), to "follow
faith" (2 Tim. 2:2) and to "hold fast the profession of our faith" (Heb.
10:23). We need to allow our unwavering faith in God and in His Word to be
seen by all! God has promised to never leave nor forsake those who come to
Him on His terms. We may fail God at times by our lack of faith in Him and
in His Word, but He will never fail us.
Sure, we might feel like we are all alone at times as we stand for the truth
and serve Him as an example
"in faith" when no one else seems to hold the same Bible-based
convictions that we do. But we must never forget that faithfulness and obedience
to our Lord will always bring joy and reward while disobedience and compromise
will always bring chastisement and regret.
Gideon is a prime example of a young man who remained faithful to God despite
difficult circumstances. He is listed in Hebrews 11, the "faith chapter," as
a young man who "out of weakness [was] made strong" (verse 34)
because he followed God's orders even though they seemed to be unreasonable
by man's standards. Even today, we may feel that it is unreasonable for God
to require us to separate from worldly pleasures and amusements or from worldly
friends who have no interest nor regard for the things of the Lord. But our
separation from these only makes us purer vessels that are "meet for
the Master's use."
Remember, God has a plan and purpose for our lives today! But in order to
be used by God, we must be separated from that which draws us away from Him
and separated unto the Lord Himself. The cost is worth it! Gideon heeded
God's seemingly unreasonable commands and won victory after victory as a
Finally, we read in 1 Timothy 4:12 that we need to be an example to others
in our purity. You probably guessed it—this refers to sexual purity,
which God explicitly requires of all believers. All young people today, including
Christian young people, face extraordinary pressure to become sexually active.
We are surrounded by music, television, magazines, books and games that all
urge us in some way or another to express ourselves sexually and to delve
into that which God has forbidden at this stage in our lives. Without reservation,
the Word of God explicitly forbids sexual activity outside the bounds of
marriage, despite the fact that the society in which we live readily accepts
fornication and immorality as "normal"
and even glorifies it.
Paul explains God's will for our lives in 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4. He writes, "For
this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain
from fornication." He continues to tell us that we must "know how
to possess [our bodies] in sanctification and honor." While we might
not yet know God's will for our lives concerning our future spouse, schooling
or occupation, we do know that God's will for our lives right now is to "abstain
Not only are we to "abstain from fornication," but in 1 Corinthians
6:18, God specifically tells us to
"flee fornication." This means we are to turn and run from the
opportunity, should it arise, to enter into a sexual relationship with another
individual outside the bounds of marriage. Why is God's Word so forthright
concerning this matter? Because It tells us in the next verse that our body "is
the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in [us]." It continues, "For
ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your
spirit, which are God's." If we are saved, our bodies belong to God,
not to ourselves. Therefore, we must be sure that we never use our bodies
in any manner which brings shame and dishonor to our Master. Sexual activity
outside of marriage is not only shameful and dishonoring to God, but it ruins
our relationship with Him and carries with it a host of other long-lasting
problems as well. It is impossible for us to remain in God's will and simultaneously
defile our bodies through the sin of fornication.
Paul also tells us in 2 Timothy 2:22 to "flee youthful lusts." In
the previous verses, Paul states that in order to be used by God, we must
separate ourselves from that which would defile our minds and bodies. If
we do separate from all unrighteousness, including sexual immorality, God
says we will "be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the
Master's use, and prepared unto every good work" (2 Tim. 2:21). God
knows that we as young people especially tend to face sexual pressures, and
His answer to us is to "flee" from that which would corrupt our
bodies. Run away!
Again, God's Word tells us about a young person who exemplified what it truly
means to be sexually and morally pure. Remember Joseph? First, his jealous
brothers sold him into slavery. Then, his master's wife attempted to seduce
him. How did Joseph respond? He turned and ran away from her. The Bible says
he "fled, and got him out" (Gen. 39:12). Joseph knew the difference
between right and wrong and said, "How then can I do this great wickedness,
and sin against God?" (Gen. 39:9). Joseph realized that to commit fornication
was "great wickedness" and a "sin against God." We must,
like Joseph, do what is right for the right reasons. We must flee from immorality
and refuse to use our bodies as "instruments of unrighteousness."
Some Final Thoughts:
It certainly is not becoming any easier to live for the Lord and maintain
a consistent testimony for Christ in this evil world. The world is not becoming
a more righteous, moral place to live. People in this world, including many
Christians, are certainly not encouraging nor supporting those of us who
desire to become more grounded in our faith or who purpose to honor Christ
through holy, separated lives. On the contrary, Satan is trying to do everything
he can to discourage us, to make us feel alone, to pressure us to "loosen
up" and to persuade us to be more accepting of other religions, beliefs
and philosophies. But we must remember that we are called by God, right now,
to be examples of the believers in word, in conversation, in charity, in
spirit, in faith and in purity. Consider these final thoughts:
First, hypocrisy on the part of those who are older than us is no excuse for
us to "throw in the towel" and conclude that our relationship with
God is not important. Neither is disobedience and compromise on the part
of those who are older than us an excuse for us to follow their bad example
and to believe that God is not entirely concerned about our obedience to
Him. Just as it is wrong for the unsaved to refuse to believe in Jesus Christ
due to the hypocrisy of many believers, it is equally wrong for Christian
young people to feel as though they do not need to be genuine, sincere and
obedient because some older believers come up short in this regard.
Second, we must remember that we do not need to be raised in a Christian home
or experience the support of Christian parents or family members in order
to honor God and walk close to Him. Many Christian young people who come
from broken homes, who live with abusive parents or who have never received
a word of encouragement or support from their families are being wonderful,
Godly examples "of the believers." They draw upon the Lord for
strength and look to His Word for encouragement, help and instruction.
Neither do we need to be a part of some large church or "successful" youth
group in order to walk close to God and fulfill His will for our lives. Of
course, if you are blessed with a Godly pastor and a Christ-honoring youth
group, be sure to be supportive of your church leaders and participate in
your church activities. But we must remember that God honors and addresses
in His Word individuals, not programs or youth groups or "successful" youth
ministries. In fact, identification with such is often a hindrance to a God-honoring
Christian walk and witness because what occurs in many youth groups and youth
programs is actually a reproach to the cause of Christ.
Remember, God speaks to us through His Word as individuals. He works with
us as individuals. We do not need to be a part of a large, "dynamic" youth
group, ministry or program to be blessed by God and used for His purposes.
Nor does our home environment need to be the "ideal" situation.
We are individuals. God speaks to us individually. We must possess a personal,
individual relationship with God. We are individually responsible for our
walk with Him.
Third, remember that God is not calling some of us into full-time Christian
service, some of us into part-time Christian service and some of us into
the "Christian reserves"
when we get older. No, He calls each one of us into service for Him at this
very moment. We need to act now! Tomorrow may be too late! Christ could suddenly
wipe out our existence or return in the Rapture when we least expect it,
and we need to be ready to face Him and give Him an answer for what we thought,
said and did (or failed to do) while on this earth.
Fourth, be sincere in your walk with God and your conduct before others, but
be sincerely right. Do not base your sincerity on what someone else is telling
you or on your own emotional experiences. Rather, find out from the Word
of God how to live the Christian life and genuinely possess a relationship
with Christ. God tells us we are to "be sincere and without offence" (Phil.
1:10). This means we must be sincere and blameless before God. Sincerity
alone is not enough. We are to serve God "in sincerity and in truth"
(Josh. 24:14). Trying to muster up sincerity through emotionally-charged
music, videos or even preaching is shallow and futile. True and lasting sincerity
must be based entirely on God's unchanging Word.
Finally, never give up. When we fail the Lord in various areas of our lives
(and we all will certainly fail Him at times), get back on track through
prayer and Bible study and keep purposing to please Him in everything you
do. Keep striving to be an example "of the believers." Jesus Christ
earnestly desires to help us, walk with us and strengthen us in every area
of our lives. All we need to do is to obey Him and yield ourselves to Him
and to His will. Difficult times will come--loneliness, anxiety, peer pressure
and discouragement will look us straight into the eyes at times. But God
is always faithful to us. Purpose to remain faithful to Him.