Flee from Desires Incidental to Youth
“Flee from the desires incidental to youth, but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace, along with those who call upon the Lord out of a clean heart.”—2 Tim. 2:22.
1. When is fleeing a sign of courage, and what examples do we have?
WILLINGNESS to flee is usually regarded as the mark of a coward. To see a man run from danger generally stirs up in one a feeling of loathing. Especially is this true of the misguided youngster of today with his false sense of courage who, even when he is wrong, prefers belligerently to stand his ground and fight. But courage is not necessarily demonstrated by such a course. It can be shown in a quiet obedience to righteous principles. It can even be shown in fleeing if one takes flight in obedience to instructions from the right person and for the right thing. Joseph’s fleeing from Potiphar’s wife, Lot and his family fleeing from Sodom and Gomorrah, early Christians fleeing Jerusalem prior to its destruction in A.D. 70, all of these are examples of courageous flight by God’s obedient servants.—Gen. 39:11, 12; 19:20; Matt. 24:16.
2. (a) How can youth in the New World society demonstrate courage, and what makes it possible? (b) Why must they show courage today?
2 So it is today that youths in a Christian family have the opportunity to demonstrate courage in fleeing from the accepted worldly course of satisfying oneself with every fleshly desire. It takes a clean heart to follow righteous principles so as to live a clean life devoted to the service of God and man. The opportunity is theirs now because the truth concerning what is required of them in the matter of righteous living has been made crystal clear through God’s Word. Courage in youth is required because pressure to conform to an evil course is exerted from all sides in the young folks’ environment of schoolmates, neighborhood friends and work associates. What a privilege, then, for the young Christian to grasp fully the meaning of Paul’s admonition and follow the direction in which he is pointed by it: “So, flee from the desires incidental to youth, but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace, along with those who call upon the Lord out of a clean heart.”—2 Tim. 2:22; Prov. 4:18.
3. What choice must be made by youth today, and what will aid in making the right choice?
3 “Pursue righteousness,” counsels Paul. How well that outlines the course open to youthful Christians today with their whole future before them! What will their future be? Before them are two distinct worlds, worlds of completely different makeup and offering completely different destinies. They have the choice of a career in either one. In the schools they have been promised glowing careers in the commercial, political or religious fields of this world. On the other hand, Jehovah God is offering youth a career in the full-time service in the New World arrangement for which Christians pray. Do you pray for God’s kingdom to come and for his will to be done on earth as in heaven? The right choice will not be easy. Because of this old world’s propaganda, youth is influenced by strong temptations and adventurous, deceptive desires. But, on the other hand, through the Bible they are helped by the counsel that God gave to Timothy when he was at the point of decision as all youth are today. The apostle Paul gives these instructions to the young man: “O Timothy, guard what is laid up in trust with you, turning away from the empty speeches that violate what is holy and from the contradictions of the falsely called ‘knowledge.’ For making a show of such knowledge some have deviated from the faith.” (1 Tim. 6:20, 21) Parents and children, think carefully on these points! Weigh the rewards offered by a dying old world compared with God’s new world of righteousness. Then with wisdom and courage make the decision that young Timothy made. He chose serving God’s Kingdom interests.
4. (a) Why are the youths in the New World society so different from all the other youths in the world? (b) Are those young in years exempt from the ministry, and what encouragement did Jesus offer to youths?
4 Christian youths have a special responsibility among all the others in the world today because of their love for Jehovah God and the ministry that God has assigned to them. They must care for their special responsibility as youths because they are the future overseers of God’s congregation. Just because they are young in years does not mean they are exempt from worshiping God and the responsibility of doing his will. Listen to the excuse young Jeremiah gave to Jehovah God when he was told to preach: “Alas, O Lord Jehovah! Here I actually do not know how to speak, for I am but a boy.” Listen to the rebuke he received, followed by the guarantee of Jehovah’s backing: “Do not say, ‘I am but a boy.’ But to all those to whom I shall send you, you should go; and everything that I shall command you, you should speak. Do not be afraid because of their faces, for ‘I am with you to deliver you,’ is the utterance of Jehovah.” (Jer. 1:6-8) Such a faithful course on the part of a Christian youth will bring him the love and protection of Jehovah God and Christ Jesus. If Jeremiah could be a faithful minister of God, why cannot you be one? Let no one prevent or discourage you from your God-given privileges. In Jesus’ day when some tried to prevent the younger ones from coming to him, he said: “Let the young children alone, and stop hindering them from coming to me, for the kingdom of the heavens belongs to suchlike ones.” (Matt. 19:14) At another time he said: “Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings you have furnished praise.” (Matt. 21:16) What a favored position obedient youths have in the eyes of Jehovah God and his Son, Christ Jesus!
5. What are some of the fads Christian youths must guard against, and why?
5 Just as youthful Timothy no doubt had to put up a strong guard so as not to practice and follow the youthful customs of his day, so likewise today young Christian ministers must always be on guard against the unwholesome influences of this world. It is a very easy thing for Christian youths to allow themselves to copy and practice the fads so prevalent among those with whom they associate. Many a young person likes to live for excitement. They like thrills such as reckless driving of automobiles, dangerously taking risks and dares just to see how far they can go. But this is very hazardous. One little mis-move or a slight misjudgment could cause one to lose his life or even take the life of someone else. So they should refrain from letting these worldly fads become a part of their way of life. It is true that, when one does not conform to the crowd, the others are going to start calling him a sissy, weakling and killjoy; but who are the weak ones? Who are the killjoys? The ones that are not strong enough to resist daring temptations, those too weak to guard against the things the Devil wants them to do that will not only cause hurt to themselves but also may hurt other people. Flee from recklessness.
6. Why must obscene and foolish talk be avoided?
6 Youthful Christians want to guard against obscene and foolish talk that is so common among the youth of today and that God speaks against—“neither shameful conduct nor foolish talking nor obscene jesting, things which are not becoming, but rather the giving of thanks.” (Eph. 5:4) The worldly youths may think it is smart. They may even think it makes them tough and that it must be done to gain popularity. Some may think it is a sign that they have grown up, but it is not. It is only an indication of weakness, a poor vocabulary and worldliness. If Christians begin to copy the worldly youths and talk their indecent, repulsive language, then they are soon going to begin to think the same way. Such thinking is not compatible with God’s thoughts and, because of this, it will weaken their faith. If it continues, their faith will be completely gone. Then right desires will be gone. Everything will be lost, just from the seed of obscene talk.
7. What Scriptural admonition is given against “practical jokes”?
7 Engaging in “practical jokes” is not becoming to any minister of God. These can be most harmful. The unscripturalness of such a practice is shown in Proverbs: “Just like someone mad that is shooting fiery missiles, arrows and death, so is the man that has tricked his fellow man and has said: ‘Was I not having fun?’” (Prov. 26:18, 19) So for a moment’s amusement one’s resorting to what he calls a practical joke can be like arrows of death to another. Before playing a practical joke on someone, ask yourself, “How would I like to be the object of the joke?” We should never receive pleasure at the expense of someone else’s embarrassment or hurt.
8. What are the dangers of becoming too involved in sports?
8 Another harmful desire that must be avoided is overindulgence in sports, either as a participant or a spectator. If this is allowed to happen, then on evenings when God’s Word should be studied or meetings attended, the time will be spent at some sporting event. On weekends, when one is free from school and secular work, time will not be spent preaching from house to house, as did Jesus and the apostles, if sports take first place in one’s life. A reasonable amount of sports can be beneficial, as Paul stated: “For bodily training is beneficial for a little; but godly devotion is beneficial for all things, as it holds promise of the life now and that which is to come.” (1 Tim. 4:8) The important thing is to hold it within its bounds. Do not let any pleasure become such a strong desire that it is all that can be thought of or talked about. If that happens, there is the danger that it may draw one away from devotion to Jehovah God, stop his spiritual growth, and his prospects of everlasting life will be endangered.
9, 10. (a) What are the dangers of materialism, as stated by Paul? (b) How can youths resist the snare of materialism?
9 The acquiring of wealth and worldly possessions is the desire and ambition of young people, but youths in the New World society know this is not the desire that leads to everlasting life. It is the beginning of the snare of materialism. Listen to what the heavenly Father admonishes: “Those who are determined to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and many senseless and hurtful desires, which plunge men into destruction and ruin. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of injurious things, and by reaching out for this love some have been led astray from the faith and have stabbed themselves all over with many pains.” (1 Tim. 6:9, 10) These hurtful desires are not going to overtake anyone who does not allow his love and efforts to be toward gaining unnecessary material things. Remember, if materialism captures your thoughts, it has captured you.—Prov. 23:7.
10 We should not put ourselves in a position where we are sucked into the whirlpool of materialism. Why long for a hi-fi set or think about a high-priced sports car or dream about a home with a two-car garage if these things are beyond your means and you can get along without them? In looking and thinking the desire can become so great that a person will be working evenings and weekends to make money to pay for these things that are not necessities. By making these things your wants your worship of Jehovah God will be hindered because of missing meetings and serving and cultivating wrong desires.
11. What should be avoided in our manner of dress?
11 The desire to attract the opposite sex by immodestly displaying the body is great on the part of both males and females today. Do not excite the sexual passions by improper dress or self-display. The wearing of extremely tight-fitting and revealing clothing should be avoided. The young people of the world might think it is stylish to do so, but youth in the New World society should always be cognizant of their position and exercise proper conduct by proper dress. Young women especially should remember the counsel given by Peter on the matter of dress: “Do not let your adornment be that of the external braiding of the hair and of the putting on of gold ornaments or the wearing of outer garments, but let it be the secret person of the heart in the incorruptible apparel of the quiet and mild spirit, which is of great value in the eyes of God.”—1 Pet. 3:3, 4.
12. (a) Are Christian youths limited when choosing their associates? (b) How were the Israelites warned against bad association for their children?
12 Courtship in many countries is a natural thing for youth, and it is a very important part of their life. It is something that must be guarded very closely. Youths may think they can make a date, court and associate with any boy or girl they like in their school or neighborhood, but this is not so. Their associations are limited. These words of counsel from Jehovah God say: “Do not be misled. Bad associations spoil useful habits.” (1 Cor. 15:33) Young Christian ministers have developed good, useful habits because of the New World society’s training based on the Bible. So God says that in order to hold onto these good habits youths should seek the companionship of only those who believe as they believe, those who have dedicated their lives to serve God and have symbolized that dedication by being baptized in water. This same counsel God gave to the nation of Israel when he told the parents not to permit their sons or daughters to marry or associate with the youths of the heathen nations around them: “You must form no marriage alliance with them. Your daughter you must not give to his son, and his daughter you must not take for your son.” (Deut. 7:3) If the parents and children did not heed these words, there was the danger that the children would forget the worship due to God and, as a result, bring about their everlasting destruction. “For he will turn your son from following me, and they will certainly serve other gods; and Jehovah’s anger will indeed blaze against you, and he will certainly annihilate you in a hurry.”—Deut. 7:4.
13. What are the harmful effects and dangers of petting?
13 Proper conduct in courting is very important, because it is a dangerous thing to overstimulate the powerful sex impulses. It is something that is not to be trifled with. If one allows himself to become overly stimulated by petting and then realizes the restrictions placed upon him by the law of God and the sexual desires cannot be carried to a culmination, what is the situation? It causes one to be left in a very nervous and emotionally disturbed state. This causes harm spiritually, as well as mentally and physically, and therefore should be avoided. It may lead to immorality, and this God warns against when he says: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, and they are fornication, uncleanness, loose conduct, . . . envies, drunken bouts, revelries, and things like these. As to these things I am forewarning you, the same way as I did forewarn you, that those who practice such things will not inherit God’s kingdom.” (Gal. 5:19-21) Do not resort to these loose habits that can easily cause loss of life. Christian parents should always know where their children are, and teen-agers should never be ashamed to tell their parents where they were and what they did.
CULTIVATING RIGHT DESIRES
14. For whom must youths have respect?
14 It is vital for youth to develop respect for others and be obedient to those over them as they go along in daily life. Show obedience to parents, to Jehovah God’s organization and to the overseers God has placed in his congregation. That is one thing that so many young people do not do, in spite of the Scriptural admonition: “Children, be obedient to your parents in union with the Lord, for this is righteous: ‘Honor your father and your mother’; which is the first command with a promise: ‘That it may go well with you and you may endure a long time on the earth.’” (Eph. 6:1-3) Consider what happened in Elisha’s day and see the results of disrespect on the part of those children. The prophet Elisha was going up to Bethel, and young boys came out from the city. When they saw Elisha, they kept saying to him: “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!” Finally he turned around and saw the young boys and he called down evil upon them in the name of Jehovah. Did Jehovah respond and show his displeasure because of their disrespectful conduct? He most certainly did. Out of the woods came two she-bears and they went tearing to pieces forty-two of those children. What a price to pay for not showing proper respect when it was due!—2 Ki. 2:23, 24; Prov. 30:17.
15. (a) When should one begin to serve Jehovah? (b) With proper desire and planning what expanded privileges of service are extended to youths in the New World society?
15 Young ministers, make your desire the serving of your Creator and the doing of his work. As it is stated: “Remember, now, your grand Creator in the days of your young manhood, before the calamitous days proceed to come.” (Eccl. 12:1) If you remember your Creator in your young days and serve him, then you are going to be using your youthful energy in the most joy-producing of all work, full-time preaching. Start doing this now by being a vacation pioneer. Then stick to it and you will see your privileges of service expand to regular pioneer work, special pioneer work, or possibly circuit work, district work, or the grand prospect of serving in a Bethel home, the headquarters of the Watch Tower Society, in some part of the earth. There are many fields of service open to those who make their career that of a minister and thus serve their Creator. To enjoy any of these fine privileges, it takes planning and having your mind settled on what you are going to do and then working toward that end, permitting nothing to turn you aside. In Romans it is stated: “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not be planning ahead for the desires of the flesh.”—Rom. 13:14.
16. When one is faced with problems and obstacles, what course is open for overcoming such?
16 As you work toward the realization of your goal as a full-time minister, many problems will arise to discourage you. Because of your lack of maturity and your youthfulness, you may make some misstep or commit some error. If you do, admit your wrong, confess the error, go to your parents or to the congregation overseer and receive counsel that will be for your own benefit. God says: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous so as to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”—1 John 1:9.
17. (a) If youths remember Jehovah now, when will he remember them? (b) What joys and blessings can youths enjoy now and in the future by serving Jehovah?
17 Make the new world of righteousness your desire. Make it your hope, your career, by remembering your Creator now; then Jehovah will certainly remember you in the calamity of Armageddon when God destroys the old wicked world. Now is the time to flee from the desires incidental to youth of this old world. Temporary sin with them certainly is a big price to pay for annihilation. Hold to the wholesome desire rooted in the New World hope and make the doing of God’s will your career. By doing so you are going to have great gain and joy now by cleanness and contentment of mind and joy of heart. Furthermore, there will be great gain and eternal happiness as you live on into the New World paradise.
18. How can the youths in the New World society be a good influence upon their generation?
18 Youths, be a good influence for your generation. Talk to your friends about everlasting life in the new world. Show them that the Bible can be understood by young as well as old. Point out to your neighborhood associates and fellow school students that the most important things in life are not the latest dance step and the names of the latest television and movie stars, but that Jehovah God and Christ Jesus are the ones they should know and imitate. Prove to the world by your example and conduct that the only solution for delinquency of youth today is to teach them God’s Word and to serve Jehovah God, the Creator. So youths in the New World society must flee from the old-world amusements, its obscene talk, its jokes, its materialism, its immorality and other wrong desires that are nothing more than snares put there by the hater of youth, Satan the Devil. Look ahead to the most cherished ambition of obedient youths today, that of being a full-time minister of the good news. Being a Christian minister of Jehovah is the grandest career that today’s youths could occupy or be trained for. This is the course that leads to endless life and can be a channel through which others can also receive life. You young ministers, study diligently and work hard so that you can be better preachers and representatives of Jehovah’s New World society, all to the honor and praise of Jehovah’s name.
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