Youth, Get Saved from This Crooked Generation
“My son, to my wisdom O do pay attention. To my discernment incline your ears, so as to guard thinking abilities; and may your own lips safeguard knowledge itself.”—Prov. 5:1, 2.
1. Why are these days the time of grandest opportunity for youth?
YOU young men and women living at this time in history are offered opportunities unequaled in the past and never to be repeated in the future. This is not because the atomic age has brought us to the threshold of a new era, nor because the current gains in scientific knowledge have opened up vast new fields for progress. Indeed, all these discoveries appear to be hurrying this world toward catastrophe of man’s own making. What makes these the grandest of times in which to be alive with all the vigor and promise of youth is that there is now imminent a vaster change in man’s way of life than that resulting from the deluge of Noah’s day. That great transformation of earthly conditions, however, will not come about without first our earth’s experiencing “great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now.” (Matt. 24:21) Happy will those be who survive that tribulation and live to enjoy the peace and happiness that will replace the present chaotic way of life.
2. Explain the worldwide indifference to the significance of these times. Why is there an urgent need to take note?
2 You young people may wonder why it is that the adult world does not get excited about this matter, and why everyone just goes his selfish way and pays no attention. The answer, according to Jesus’ words at Matthew 24:38, 39, is: “For as they were in those days before the flood, eating and drinking, men marrying and women being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark; and they took no note until the flood came and swept them all away, so the presence of the Son of man will be.” In the same Bible chapter you will find how Jesus foretold a series of most unusual happenings that would take place in swift succession, and that would herald the approach of this radical change in earthly conditions. Referring to those who would witness the beginning of those strange events, he added: “This generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur.” (Mt 24 Verse 34) Since A.D. 1914 the generation of your grandparents has witnessed these things taking place. The majority have paid no attention. How about you? Will you take note? It is still not too late, and your everlasting future depends upon your doing so.
3. (a) Show how the situation in Noah’s day now also confronts the youth of today. (b) What responsibility does it place on youth?
3 One thing that should not escape your notice about the survivors of that first global calamity—they were a family. Had the youths of Noah’s household been more concerned about running with the crowd in their own age-group and having a fling at life than about heeding their father and working and building with the family, would they have survived? Certainly not. They would have perished with that unheeding generation of scoffers. Today you are confronted with the same situation and the same choice. If you choose the course of least resistance now and go along with this crooked world and its ways, then in company with this whole doomed system of things you will find yourself up against the irresistible forces of God’s Armageddon punishment of destruction. If, on the other hand, you choose to get saved from this wicked system of things through God’s merciful provision, then you must be prepared to make a great change in your life, your thinking and your attitudes.
4. Why is it wise for youth not to conform to this world’s practices, thinking, standards?
4 Let us face it. This world has nothing good to offer you. Those who have gained the most of what it has to offer are among the most unhappy, selfish and burdened people of all. Note how accurately the Bible appraises this world: “Everything in the world—the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the showy display of one’s means of life—does not originate with the Father, but originates with the world. Furthermore, the world is passing away and so is its desire, but he that does the will of God remains forever.” (1 John 2:16, 17) So it is wise counsel that the apostle Paul offers when he writes: “Quit being fashioned after this system of things, but be transformed by making your mind over.” (Rom. 12:2) Whether you realize it or not this system of things is molding or fashioning you to suit its selfish purposes. To be transformed means getting a whole new outlook on life, and you can do this by getting God’s thoughts that are recorded in the Bible for your benefit.
5. Are the attitudes of worldly youth today any different from those popular before the Flood?
5 ‘Let us eat, drink and be merry, without any serious thought about the past or the future,’ seems to have been the policy of those people before the Flood. Is it any different today? Look around your own circle of acquaintances and observe for yourself. The desires of the flesh are uppermost in mind. One night’s empty, effervescent hilarity is not concluded before the question is arising, What shall we do tomorrow night? There is the never-ending quest for thrills and “kicks.” Popularity with the crowd is the main objective. Everyone seems to be busy trying to prove he is as good as everyone else. Rebellion against parental authority leads to other types of lawlessness. Statistics point to a continuing increase in juvenile crime. Complete disregard for the rights, the happiness, the well-being of others characterizes the attitude of today’s youth.
6. (a) How does modern teen-age conduct show that this generation is “in accord with the flesh”? (b) What urgent course is therefore advisable?
6 Add to the foregoing the loose and immoral conduct that is prevalent in teen-age circles. The many passion-arousing practices of worldly youth such as heavy petting, overfamiliarity between persons of opposite sex, inordinate drinking, wearing of clothing that is admittedly designed to excite, the abuse of sex functions whose uses are limited by God’s law to married persons—all these things mark this generation as one that has its mind on flesh and on material things, with no time for sober thought on such questions as, Why were we given life in the first place? and what is to be our destiny? If you are in harmony with or sympathetic toward any of these unclean practices, then you should take note of the following very plain words: “For those who are in accord with the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh . . . For the minding of the flesh means death, but the minding of the spirit means life and peace; because the minding of the flesh means enmity with God, for it is not under subjection to the law of God, nor, in fact, can it be. So those who are in harmony with the flesh cannot please God.” (Rom. 8:5-8) So if you love life, then the sensible thing to do is to heed the urgent counsel of the Bible to “flee from the desires incidental to youth” and seek the way of God’s favor and survival at this world’s approaching end.—2 Tim. 2:22.
7. (a) How does the “desire of the eyes” affect especially the adolescent generation? (b) What warnings should be heeded?
7 This whole world is geared to cater to the “desire of the eyes,” and especially to the eyes of youth. Every weapon of its advertising arsenal is used to bombard the mind of youth, your mind, with its cheap, blatant, often dishonest come-on techniques. Doubtless you have often reproved baby brother or sister for her endless cry “I want that, I want that,” as each new bauble comes to view. But are teen-agers any better? It is true they want more expensive baubles such as automobiles, lots of clothing in the most up-to-date mode, the latest in hi-fi; in fact, all kinds of gadgets the possession of which makes them no happier. But they are still suffering from a childish mania for possessing everything they see. If life in a new system of things is really what you want, then you will have to learn to say No to the “desire of the eyes.” And this does not mean closing your eyes so that you will not be able to see this world’s gaudy window display. Jesus warns: “Keep your eyes open and guard against every sort of covetousness, because even when a person has an abundance his life does not result from the things he possesses.” And again: “What benefit will it be to a man if he gains the whole world but forfeits his soul?”—Luke 12:15; Matt. 16:26.
8. (a) What is indicated by the “showy display of one’s means of life”? (b) Name some results from succumbing to this worldly practice.
8 The “showy display of one’s means of life” is calculated to impress others. Youths and adults who fashion their lives according to this world’s standards, who are unduly concerned about what their chums or their neighbors think about them, have really made little advance from the infant stage when they proudly held out some shiny bagatelle and said: “Look what I have!” In order to be popular, to show that one is just as good as anyone else, youth of today will do anything, however ludicrous or senseless it may be. They quickly fall in line with and adopt each new kind of haircut or hairdo. Every fashion fad that comes along is succumbed to, even if it gives them the freakish or the sexy look. They will spend hour after hour on the dance floor going through all sorts of contortions to the beat of the modern tom-toms. Practically everything they do is dictated by majority rule, gang rule. The desire to be well thought of leads youth into degrading and hurtful practices such as smoking, excessive drinking, drug addiction, as well as loose and immoral living. Instead of setting before themselves a good example or a high standard, they are content to settle for the very low average. Parents often hear the expression, “Everyone else is doing it, so why not me?” presented as a strong argument.
9. How does a course of popularity-seeking lead us head on into conflict with Jehovah God?
9 If you will but pause and think about it, this putting the opinion of imperfect fellow creatures ahead of God’s right principles is in fact idolatry. Consider what God’s Word has to say about it: “What is lofty among men is a disgusting thing in God’s sight.” “For not the way man sees is the way God sees, because mere man sees what appears to the eyes; but as for Jehovah, he sees what the heart is.” “Woe, whenever all men speak well of you.” (Luke 16:15; 1 Sam. 16:7; Luke 6:26) When it was already too late King Saul of Israel admitted to this desire for popularity when he said: “I have sinned; for I have overstepped the order of Jehovah and your words, because I feared the people and so obeyed their voice.” (1 Sam. 15:24) Slaves or employees are advised to “be obedient in everything to those who are your masters in a fleshly sense, not with acts of eye-service, as men pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, with fear of Jehovah.” (Col. 3:22) How much more important it should be to you to have God’s favor than all the honor and plaudits of a doomed world!
CLEANSING YOUR PATH
10. (a) What immediate steps should God-fearing youth take? (b) How can success be assured?
10 Even as you realize the crookedness and selfishness and uncleanness of today’s generation of adolescents your one concern should be to separate from it and seek forgiveness from God and a cleansing of your ways after having rubbed shoulders with such unclean companions, perhaps even “running with them in this course to the same low sink of debauchery.” (1 Pet. 4:4) The appropriate question was raised and answered for you in God’s own Word: “How will a young man cleanse his path? By keeping on guard according to your word.” (Ps. 119:9) So God’s Word must become the guardian of your thinking ability and your discernment. To it you must go to study the right principles for living. In harmony with God’s will you must fashion your life, and not according to this old system of things. So doing, you can be sure of success.—Josh. 1:8.
11. How is orderly family life highlighted in the Scriptures? With what benefits?
11 Divine wisdom points to the well-ordered family as the proper training ground for youth. Remember Noah’s solid little family group. Note, too, that Moses, as God’s representative, organized the Israelites on the basis of family units. On that first fateful Passover night each family had to assemble safely within the home in order to have Jehovah’s protection and ultimate deliverance. God’s loving concern in this matter may be seen in his provision of so much wise counsel on proper conduct of affairs in the household. The position of minor family members is clear: “A wise son is the one that makes a father rejoice, and a stupid son is the grief of his mother.” “You children, be obedient to your parents in everything, for this is well-pleasing in the Lord.” “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.’” (Prov. 10:1; Col. 3:20; Eph. 6:1-3) Shem, Ham and Japheth certainly remained much longer on the earth than their pre-Flood contemporaries.
12. (a) Does youth of today honor father and mother? (b) What result may be expected from the general attitude in this respect?
12 Youth today will disclaim any intention of dishonoring parents. Nevertheless, they treat lightly, ignore and disobey them. They prefer the companionship of anyone else. In the home they take much and give little. Ordinary gratitude and respect are often lacking. They adopt the attitude that a little modern school-learning has put them far ahead of their parents in thinking ability and discernment. In fact, Dad and Mum are just plain old-fashioned. Where, then, is the honor due parents? The general failure on this score gives strong reason for the belief that multitudes of young people will perish in God’s execution of judgment against a wicked world. Even if youth views this attitude toward parents lightly, the great Creator does not, for he declares: “The eye that holds a father in derision and that despises obedience to a mother—the ravens of the torrent valley will pick it out and the sons of the eagle will eat it up.” (Prov. 30:17) No decent burial, no memorial tomb, but just like garbage that is greedily devoured by scavenger birds.
13. How important is the home to a young person who genuinely seeks to cleanse his way?
13 So, young people, let your change of way begin right at home. Take a fresh, new look at your parents and all they have done for you. You may have considered home to be dull and lifeless. What did you ever do to make it anything else? Probably just left it. Why not now make something of your home; not just a place to keep your clothes, not merely a place to find three meals a day and a bed at night. The home is where understanding of other people and their rights begins. If you fail at home, the likelihood of success elsewhere is very small. So work hard to make a success of family life. This is where you are being trained and prepared for a future day when you may require to preside well over a family.
14. (a) Why is rebellion against parental authority unjustified? (b) Even where parents happen to be in error, what course is fitting for children who want to retain God’s favor?
14 It is true that some parents do not accept God’s Word as the guide for their administration of the household, and other parents make mistakes and do not always live up to the requirements of their position. But is this valid reason for rebellion against them? You may reason that since they have been wrong in some matter you are no longer going to be subject to them. But will two wrongs make a right? Note how God’s Word counsels wives to influence for good their erring husbands: “In like manner, you wives, be in subjection to your own husbands, in order that, if any are not obedient to the word, they may be won without a word through the conduct of their wives, because of having been eyewitnesses of your chaste conduct together with deep respect.” (1 Pet. 3:1, 2) Surely this principle would work also as between child and parent. Some unbelieving and unreasonable parents have become favorably impressed when witnessing the wonderful effect of God’s Word on the life of their children.
15. In establishing a true and worthy goal for the family, what should be the first concern?
15 For success your family must somehow rise above the petty, selfish goals that worldly families have set for themselves. You must have a goal that conforms to God’s purpose relating to mankind and this earth. If with a great deal of ingenuity and skilled workmanship you had produced a beautiful ornamental vessel and later found it being used as a garbage receptacle, how would you view such an abuse? You would probably be indignant. Consider, then, God’s position. He made us for his own purpose, to serve his will and not our own. His will is that in all our thoughts and speech and ways we should be for his glory; that we should be living, intelligent evidences of his matchless creatorship. (Isa. 42:5-8) How nauseating to observe how the majority of humans are ignoring and denying the existence of their own Creator, while many are even dragging his Name in the mud by their depraved teachings and beastly practices! No wonder a second global calamity impends.
16. (a) Outline some of the objectives that would lift your family above the sordid, selfish goals of this world’s families. (b) What danger must you guard against?
16 Your family’s goal, therefore, should be to commend to all around you, by word and good conduct, the God whom you worship. Any visitors to your home should be prepared to respect that goal or stay away. Nor should you permit godless and shiftless teen-agers to lure you away from your family and monopolize your time and attention. No matter in what part of the earth you are resident your family should become a missionary unit for the spread of right teaching and life-giving knowledge among your fellow citizens. Your household should become a center to which people in trouble can look for counsel, hope and courage. The great enemy of God and man, Satan, is today seeking to break up family life. In one part of the world this is achieved by heavy-handed state interference, and in the other it is done by cunningly segregating family members through means of the various men’s clubs and women’s clubs, junior Sunday schools and senior Sunday schools. Yours, however, should be a family undivided by false religion or human schemes for social success. Do your part to maintain a united family, a family devoted to pleasing the Creator. You will need their firm support as you flee this crooked generation.
17. (a) What pitfalls surround you during your school years? (b) What attitude should youth adopt?
17 Meanwhile, if you are still attending school, be a good representative of your Creator there among your classmates. Avail yourself of the opportunities to speak about God’s purposes to them and to your teachers. Withstand the efforts they will make to get you tied in with their worldly social arrangements, such as joining their various groups, choirs, bands, sports clubs, literary societies, and the like. Membership in these is not essential to successful schooling. And as to the subjects studied in school, keep ever in mind that much of this learning is the product of imperfect human reasoning, much of it theory only. Never could such teaching compare in authority and trueness with the Word of Jehovah, which remains forever. Your parents, if God-fearing, constitute the divinely ordained channel through whom you should receive the highest education, spiritual education.
18. What useful studies should be given special attention at school? Explain why.
18 Take fullest advantage of your school days to learn to speak well, and to read and write well, for these are qualifications that will equip you in later years to take a larger share in the worldwide work of teaching God’s message to humankind while there yet remains time. “Let a rotten saying not proceed out of your mouth” is the counsel of God’s Word. (Eph. 4:29) Give no encouragement to those who do use unclean speech by listening to or in any way countenancing or approving what they are saying. In the words of James’ illustration: “A fountain does not cause the sweet and the bitter to bubble out of the same opening, does it?” (Jas. 3:11) Let your speech be refreshing, upbuilding and healing, for that is the effect of Jehovah’s Word on the hearing ear. (Ps. 107:20) Let his thoughts be in your mind and his words on your lips.
19. What two courses lie before modern youth, and with what destinations?
19 Summing up the whole matter, then, you young people must observe that the way of God and the way of this crooked generation lead in opposite directions. You cannot travel on both roads. This world’s present mess is proof enough that the world’s way, the way of popularity, the way of selfish pleasures, the way of human independence, is the way of disaster—disaster far greater than the calamity of Noah’s time. On the other hand, God’s way, the way of genuine love, the way of dependence on heavenly direction, the way of godly families bound together for united service of the Creator, is the way of satisfying usefulness now, and the way of survival to a life of unending happiness. You must make your decision as to which way you will go NOW.
20. (a) How will you demonstrate you have made the right choice? (b) What rewarding result may be confidently expected?
20 If you choose aright, if you boldly take up the challenge of these days of tremendous change, then you will subject yourself to your parents, you will work with them in the common effort to build up a strong family that will withstand the divisive encroachments of a desperately wicked world. This you can do by unitedly studying the Bible at home, by assembling with other God-fearing family groups, and by sharing as a family in the satisfying work of imparting God’s healing truths to others. You will work hard at improving your own personal serviceability for greater and greater privileges of service in the years immediately ahead. You can be instrumental in aiding your own and other families to survive into the new order of things. Think of the thrill of satisfying pleasure you will experience when Armageddon’s forces of destruction are quieted and you find yourself amid your own beloved family and surrounded by other happy families offering homage and gratitude to Jehovah your God for opening up to you such a grand and peaceful future of service to His praise in a cleansed earthly paradise. (Gen. 8:18-22) May Jehovah give you wisdom and strength to make the right choice and “get saved from this crooked generation.”—Acts 2:40.