Young Ones—Be Guided by God’s Word
“Acquire wisdom, acquire understanding.”—PROV. 4:5.
“WHEN I wish to do what is right, what is bad is present with me.” Do you know who said those words? It was none other than the apostle Paul. Although Paul loved Jehovah, there were times when he found it a struggle to do what was right. How did he feel about this conflict within himself? “Miserable man that I am!” he wrote. (Rom. 7:21-24) Can you relate to the way Paul felt? Do you sometimes find it difficult to do the right thing? Does that make you feel frustrated, as it did Paul? If so, do not be discouraged. Paul successfully dealt with the challenges he faced, and so can you.
2 Paul succeeded because he allowed himself to be guided by “healthful words.” (2 Tim. 1:13, 14) As a result, he gained the wisdom and understanding needed to cope with challenges and to make good decisions. Jehovah God can help you to acquire wisdom and understanding. (Prov. 4:5) He has provided the best possible advice in his Word, the Bible. (Read 2 Timothy 3:16, 17.) Consider how you can benefit from the principles found in the Scriptures when dealing with your parents, when handling money, and when you are alone.
Guided by God’s Word in the Family
3 Do you find it a challenge to live by your parents’ rules? Why might that be the case? One reason could be that you desire a measure of independence. This inclination is normal. It is part of growing to adulthood. While at home, though, you have an obligation to obey your parents.—Eph. 6:1-3.
4 Gaining the right perspective of your parents’ rules and requirements can make it easier for you to abide by them. True, you may at times feel as did 18-year-old Brielle,* who said of her parents: “They have completely forgotten what it’s like to be my age. They don’t want me to have my say, make a choice, or be an adult.” Like Brielle, you might feel that your parents withhold more freedom than you think they should. However, your parents make rules primarily because they are concerned about you. In addition, Christian parents know that they are accountable to Jehovah for the way they care for you.—1 Tim. 5:8.
5 Really, obeying your parents’ rules is like paying off a debt that you owe to a bank—the more reliable you are in making your payments, the more inclined the bank will be to extend credit to you. Similarly, you owe your parents respect and obedience. (Read Proverbs 1:8.) The more obedient you are, the more likely your parents will be to extend greater freedom to you. (Luke 16:10) Of course, if you continually break the rules, do not be surprised if your parents reduce or even close down your “line of credit.”
6 One way parents can help their young ones to obey the rules they make is by example. Their own willing obedience to what Jehovah requires should demonstrate that God’s rules are reasonable. This will make it easier for young people to view parental rules in the same light. (1 John 5:3) Moreover, the Bible mentions occasions when Jehovah even gave his servants an opportunity to express themselves regarding certain matters. (Gen. 18:22-32; 1 Ki. 22:19-22) Might there be times when parents could give their children a chance to comment on various subjects?
7 Young ones may also face the challenge of dealing with what they view to be unfair criticism from their parents. At times, you may have felt like a young man named Craig, who said, “My mother seemed like a police detective—always looking for areas where I failed.”
8 Correction or discipline often comes in the form of criticism. The Bible acknowledges that discipline, even when completely justified, is hard to bear. (Heb. 12:11) What can help you to benefit from discipline you receive? An important point to remember is that your parents’ counsel is likely motivated by their love for you. (Prov. 3:12) They want to save you from falling into bad habits and help you to cultivate good ones. Your parents likely realize that if they fail to correct you, it is the same as showing hatred toward you! (Read Proverbs 13:24.) Also, understand that making mistakes is part of the learning process. So when you are corrected, why not look for nuggets of wisdom in what is being said? “Having [wisdom] as gain is better than having silver as gain and having it as produce than gold itself.”—Prov. 3:13, 14.
9 Parents, however, do make mistakes. (Jas. 3:2) When disciplining you, they may sometimes speak thoughtlessly. (Prov. 12:18) What could cause your parents to act this way? They may be under stress, or they may view your mistakes as a failure on their part. Rather than dwelling on what you feel is an injustice, why not show appreciation for their earnest desire to be helpful? The ability to accept discipline will serve you well when you reach adulthood.
10 Would you like to cope more effectively with your parents’ rules and correction? If so, you need to improve your communication skills. How may you do that? The first step is to listen. “Be swift about hearing,” says the Bible, “slow about speaking, slow about wrath.” (Jas. 1:19) Rather than being quick to justify yourself, try to control your emotions and absorb what your parents have to say. Focus on what is said, not on how it is delivered. Then, rephrase your parents’ comments in your own words and respectfully repeat their remarks back to them. Your doing so will reassure them that you heard what they said. What if you want to give an explanation for your speech or actions? In most cases, it is wise to ‘keep your lips in check’ until after you have complied with your parents’ wishes. (Prov. 10:19) Once your parents see that you have listened to them, they will be far more inclined to listen to you. Such a mature approach proves that you are being guided by God’s Word.
Guided by God’s Word When Managing Money
11 “Money is for a protection,” states the Bible. But this same verse shows that wisdom is even more valuable than money. (Eccl. 7:12) God’s Word encourages us to respect money, not to love it. Why should you avoid developing love for money? Consider this illustration: In the hands of a skilled chef, a sharp knife is a useful tool. But the same knife in the hands of someone inattentive or careless can cause serious harm. If handled skillfully, money too can be useful. However, those who are “determined to be rich” often sacrifice friendships, family relationships, and even their relationship with God. As a result, they stab themselves “all over with many pains.”—Read 1 Timothy 6:9, 10.
12 How can you learn to manage money skillfully? Why not ask your parents for advice on how to budget your money? “A wise person will listen and take in more instruction, and a man of understanding is the one who acquires skillful direction,” wrote Solomon. (Prov. 1:5) A young woman named Anna asked for skillful direction from her parents. She says, “My father taught me how to make a budget, and he showed me how important it is to be organized in managing family funds.” Anna’s mother likewise taught her practical lessons. “She showed me the value of comparing prices before buying,” says Anna. How has Anna benefited? She answers: “I am now able to care for my own finances. I carefully control my spending, so I have the freedom and the peace of mind that come from avoiding unnecessary debt.”
13 You may find yourself quickly plunging into debt if you buy items on impulse or spend money just to impress your friends. What might help you to avoid these traps? When it comes to spending money, you must learn to discipline yourself. This is what Ellena, who is in her early 20’s, does. “When I go out with friends,” she says, “I plan ahead and calculate a limit to my spending. . . . I also find it wise to go shopping only with those of my friends who are careful with their money and who will encourage me to shop around and not buy the first thing I see.”
14 Making and managing money is an important part of life. However, Jesus said that real happiness comes to those who are “conscious of their spiritual need.” (Matt. 5:3) He warned that a person’s interest in spiritual matters can be choked by such things as “the deceptive power of riches.” (Mark 4:19) How important it is, then, that you let yourself be guided by God’s Word and maintain a balanced view of money!
Guided by God’s Word When Alone
15 When do you think your loyalty to God will be tested the most—when you are with others or when you are alone? Well, when you are at school or at work, your spiritual defenses are likely up. You are alert to possible spiritual danger. It is when you are relaxing and your guard is down that you become most vulnerable to an attack on your moral standards.
16 Why should you want to obey Jehovah even when you are alone? Remember this: You are able either to hurt Jehovah’s feelings or to make his heart rejoice. (Gen. 6:5, 6; Prov. 27:11) Jehovah is affected by your actions because “he cares for you.” (1 Pet. 5:7) He wants you to listen to him so that you can benefit yourself. (Isa. 48:17, 18) When some of Jehovah’s servants in ancient Israel ignored his counsel, they caused him to feel pain. (Ps. 78:40, 41) On the other hand, Jehovah felt deep affection for the prophet Daniel, for an angel called him a “very desirable man.” (Dan. 10:11) Why? Daniel remained loyal to God not only when in public but also in private.—Read Daniel 6:10.
17 To remain loyal to God when you are by yourself, you must develop your “perceptive powers . . . to distinguish both right and wrong” and then train those powers “through use” by acting on what you know is right. (Heb. 5:14) For example, when choosing the music you listen to, the movies you watch, or the Internet sites that you visit, here is what will help you choose what is right and avoid what is wrong. Ask yourself the following questions: ‘Will this material encourage me to be tenderly compassionate or will it influence me to rejoice “at another’s disaster”?’ (Prov. 17:5) ‘Will it help me to “love what is good” or will it make it difficult for me to “hate what is bad”?’ (Amos 5:15) What you do when you are alone reveals the values you really treasure.—Luke 6:45.
18 What should you do if you have secretly been engaging in conduct that you know to be wrong? Remember, “he that is covering over his transgressions will not succeed, but he that is confessing and leaving them will be shown mercy.” (Prov. 28:13) How unwise it would be to continue in a wrong course and “be grieving God’s holy spirit”! (Eph. 4:30) You really owe it to God, to your parents, and to yourself to confess any wrongdoing. In this regard, “the older men of the congregation” can do a great deal for you. The disciple James says: “Let them pray over [the wrongdoer], greasing him with oil in the name of Jehovah. And the prayer of faith will make the indisposed one well, and Jehovah will raise him up. Also, if he has committed sins, it will be forgiven him.” (Jas. 5:14, 15) Admittedly, this may result in some embarrassment and perhaps some unpleasant consequences. But if you have the courage to ask for help, you will spare yourself any further damage and will feel the relief that comes from regaining a clear conscience.—Ps. 32:1-5.
Make Jehovah’s Heart Glad
19 Jehovah is “the happy God,” and he wants you to be happy. (1 Tim. 1:11) He is keenly interested in you. Even if no one else notices the effort you put forth to do what is right, he does. Nothing is hidden from Jehovah’s eyes. He looks on, not to find fault, but to support your endeavor to do good. God’s “eyes are roving about through all the earth to show his strength in behalf of those whose heart is complete toward him.”—2 Chron. 16:9.
20 Therefore, allow yourself to be guided by God’s Word, and apply its advice. You will thus gain the wisdom and understanding needed to overcome thorny problems and to make difficult choices in life. You will not only please your parents and Jehovah but also enjoy a genuinely happy life.
Names have been changed.
How Would You Answer?
• What can young ones do to cope with and benefit from parental rules and correction?
• Why is it important to gain a balanced view of money?
• How can you remain loyal to Jehovah even when alone?
1, 2. (a) What helped the apostle Paul to cope with conflicts within himself? (b) How can you acquire wisdom and understanding?
3, 4. Why might you find it challenging to obey your parents’ rules, but why do parents make rules?
5. How may obedience to your parents benefit you?
6. How can parents help young ones to be obedient?
7, 8. (a) What challenge do some young ones face? (b) What realization can help you to benefit from discipline?
9. Rather than dwelling on a seeming injustice, what can young ones do?
10. How can you cope more effectively with parental rules and correction?
11, 12. (a) Regarding money, what does God’s Word encourage us to do, and why? (b) How might your parents help you to manage money?
13. How might you discipline yourself when it comes to spending money?
14. Why should you be on guard against “the deceptive power of riches”?
15. When will your loyalty to God likely be tested the most?
16. Why should you want to obey Jehovah even in private?
17. What questions could you ask yourself when choosing entertainment?
18. What should you do if you have secretly been engaging in wrong conduct, and why?
19, 20. What does Jehovah want for you, but what must you do?
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Will you remain loyal to God when alone?