What Do You Want out of Life?
1-6. (a) To get the best out of life, what must you be willing to do? (b) For you to have a happy life, what is even more important than excelling in a certain career? (c) Why can the Bible help you in this?
IN YOUTH your life is largely ahead of you. It probably seems to stretch out for a long way, like a road with its end somewhere beyond the horizon. Where will it lead you?
2 There is no doubt that the road of life will hold some surprises for you, along with some disappointments. But, as we have seen in this book, there is a lot you can do now to make sure that you get the best out of life. The question is, Are you willing to put forth the effort needed?
3 Many young people think about what activity they will pursue when they finish school. Perhaps you too have thought about that. But no matter what kind of work you do, if you do it poorly it won’t bring you much satisfaction. There is something far more important than this, though.
4 Suppose you do become a very fine architect or artist, mechanic, musician, farmer, schoolteacher, or whatever it might be. Is this a sure guarantee that your life will be happy? Not really. Far more important is: What kind of person are you going to be? Many people have had a brilliant career in some profession but have made a miserable failure of their personal lives; they were very unhappy individuals.
5 That is why the Bible is so important. Really, the whole Bible is somewhat like a collection of letters from our Creator. As our heavenly Father he is interested in our happiness, and we should be interested in what he has to tell us. We have seen the guidelines that he gives us in answer to so many of our problems. And isn’t it true that it all makes sense? Really without those guidelines from him, how could we be sure of what to do, or know what would work out for the best?
6 This calls to mind what the apostle Paul wrote to a younger fellow worker, Timothy. Paul urged him to keep on in the things he had learned since childhood about the Bible’s teachings and said: “All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness, that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:14-17) Anything that is really worth while in life—no matter what kind of activity it may involve—you will be better equipped to do it and do it well if you let yourself be guided by God’s Word. It can make you a better son or daughter, a better husband or wife, a better father or mother, a better worker, a better friend and, above all, a better servant of your Creator.
TAKING ON RESPONSIBILITY
7-11. As shown in the Bible, what is the key to getting the very best out of life?
7 Sooner or later you will have some serious decisions to make. The time will come when you will have to take on your own load of responsibility. Right now you are something like a young eagle. You may know that eagles often build their nest high up on the edge of a towering cliff. When the young ones start fluttering their wings and are ready to fly, the parent eagles will edge them to the side of the nest and then—out into the air! One observer tells of watching a parent eagle letting the young one drop about ninety feet before swooping underneath and, with outspread wings, letting the young bird alight on its back. Then a soaring flight back up to the nest and the process was repeated until the young eagle had learned to fly.—Bulletin of the Smithsonian Institution, Vol. CLXVII, page 302.
8 In your case, your parents have built up a home with much effort and planning. But you cannot forever count on them to do things for you or to make big decisions for you. This would be especially true if, on coming of age, you should decide to leave home. Your parents can help to prepare you for taking on responsibility as a grown man or woman, making it easier for you until you are able to be on your own, just as the parent eagle does for its young. But you will have to do your part also.
9 The design of the eagle’s powerful wings and its instinctive ability to fly—these things originally came from an all-wise Creator. So each of us needs to realize that the key to getting the best out of life is found in our reliance on Him. No matter how fine (or how poor) a start your parents may be able to give you, and no matter how good a mind and body you may have, you will always want to appreciate the need for guidance from Jehovah God and look to him for strength to follow his leadings. He inspired these words to be written for young persons like yourself:
10 “To my sayings incline your ear. May they not get away from your eyes. Keep them in the midst of your heart. For they are life to those finding them and health to all their flesh. More than all else that is to be guarded, safeguard your heart, for out of it are the sources of life. . . . As for your eyes, straight ahead they should look, yes, your own beaming eyes should gaze straight in front of you. Smooth out the course of your foot, and may all your own ways be firmly established.”—Proverbs 4:20-26.
11 The more you look to Jehovah God and his Word for direction, the smoother the road of life will become for you.
HAVING GOD AS YOUR FRIEND
12, 13. (a) Besides avoiding what the Bible says is wrong, what else do we need if God is to be our friend? (b) How was the way opened for us to have such a relationship? (John 14:6)
12 How can you do this? It isn’t simply by avoiding things that God’s Word shows to be wrong. You need to have a personal relationship with Jehovah as your heavenly Father. Your parents may be able to point you in that direction, but they can’t establish that relationship for you. You must do that yourself, seeking Jehovah’s friendship. If you want the Maker of this vast universe as your friend, what does he require of you?
13 To open the way for this, Jehovah God sent his firstborn Son on an assignment to this planet Earth, causing him to be born as a human. When he became a full-grown man, God’s Son gave his life on our behalf. As the Bible says: “We behold Jesus, who has been made a little lower than angels, crowned with glory and honor for having suffered death, that he by God’s undeserved kindness might taste death for every man.”—Hebrews 2:9.
14 The Bible shows that the reason this was needed is that we are all imperfect and sinful. That shouldn’t be hard for you to recognize as true, because at times you probably have found it a real struggle to keep from doing things that you knew were wrong. Very likely you have at times weakened and given in to some wrong desire. This inborn leaning toward wrongdoing is something that we all inherited from our first parents, and that is why the whole human race is in a dying condition.
15 But God’s Son gave his perfect human life so as to provide the means for canceling out all our wrongdoing. The Bible helps us to understand how this works by likening sins to “debts.” (Matthew 6:12) For example, if you spread around some false rumor about someone else, wouldn’t you say that you “owed” him an apology? That means you are in “debt” to him because of the wrong you did. But the debt we have toward God is so big that we could never pay it ourselves. Christ Jesus’ perfect human life, however, is of such great value that it can cancel out all the debts we incur against God due to inherited sinfulness, and that is why God’s Son gave up his life on our behalf.
16-18. (a) Why do you feel that God deserves our appreciation for what was done by means of his Son? (Romans 5:6-10) (b) What are some of the things that we can do to show that appreciation?
16 So the way is open for us to have friendship with God. But we have to show that we appreciate what he has done in sacrificing his own Son and what his Son did in dying for us. We have to show that we have faith in this provision of God. Jesus said: “The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. He that exercises faith in the Son has everlasting life; he that disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him.”—John 3:35, 36.
17 Just suppose you were to save a person’s life—perhaps saving someone from drowning or from dying in a burning house—and as a result of doing this you yourself then died. What if the person who was saved didn’t show any gratitude at all, didn’t even bother to go to your parents and say something in appreciation for your unselfish act? How do you think your own father would feel? You can understand, then, why Jehovah God is rightly grieved and withholds his friendship from those who know about what his Son did for mankind but who show no appreciation for it.
18 You can show appreciation by the life you live. You can show that you sincerely regret the wrongs you have committed and ask God to ‘cover your debts’ by means of his Son’s sacrifice. You can dedicate yourself to God to serve him for the rest of your life, doing what pleases him. The Bible shows that we can symbolize this dedication by water baptism. Of course, this is not something to be done hastily. You can’t say to God that you’re going to do something and then change your mind. That’s the way little children are; they aren’t really sure what they want to do. But as you approach manhood or womanhood, you are reaching the point in life where you can decide. So it is something for you to be thinking seriously about.
FACING UP TO THE CHALLENGE
19-21. (a) How is the challenge that you face similar to the one that faced David when he went out to fight Goliath? (1 Samuel 17:4-11, 26-51; John 15:17-20; James 4:4) (b) Why can we be confident that it is possible to meet this challenge successfully? (John 16:33; Philippians 4:13; Proverbs 3:5, 6)
19 To keep proving that you are God’s friend will not always be easy. In fact, the Bible shows that you will have a big challenge because the world as a whole is not God’s friend but his enemy. But do not lose heart. You can show the same spirit that God’s servant David did when he was a young lad. He had come to the army camp of the Israelites at a time when they were confronted by the forces of the Philistines, who were worshipers of false gods. The Philistines’ champion—a giant of a man named Goliath—was taunting the Israelites, daring them to do battle with him. David heard this. Though only a youth, he had strong faith in Jehovah. He took up the challenge, advanced on the hulking, heavily armed foe and dropped him with a single stone from his shepherd’s sling.
20 Today you face an enemy world, but have no fear. Jehovah is the same Almighty God that he was in David’s day and you can gain a victory if you show courage and, above all, faith that He will never abandon you but will back you up and give you the needed strength.
21 Some men and women, including many young persons, have endured hardships, risked their lives or even died in order to serve the interests of some political government of earth. What a far greater honor it is, however, to serve the interests of the Creator of the whole universe! Consider now how this can give you a life that is far, far better than the life that anyone on earth today enjoys.