Youths, Prove Yourselves Christ’s Disciples
“Keep proving what you yourselves are.”—2 Cor. 13:5.
1. Why is it often difficult for young persons to serve their Creator?
YOUNG people who have chosen to serve their Creator are not finding it easy to do in this turbulent age. They are under constant pressure to conform to the world of sinful mankind. In their contacts with other young people at school and in their neighborhood they see the spirit of rebellion that is taking hold of worldly youth. They see other young people turning to outlandish clothing and hairstyles, and they feel conspicuous because they are different. They hear speech that is without good taste. They see disrespect for good moral standards. They see young people abusing themselves with narcotics and hallucinogenic drugs. They feel constant pressure to walk in step with these other young people. Certainly they would not prove themselves as Christ’s disciples if they did.
2. What does it mean to be one of Christ’s disciples, and why must a young person who is one be different?
2 To be one of Christ’s disciples means to accept his teachings and to assist in spreading them. Young persons who do this must necessarily be different from the young people who are part of the world, because the thinking and actions of the latter are out of harmony with Christ’s teachings. Pointing out how a person can show that he has accepted Christ’s teachings and has permitted them to mold his way of life, the Scriptures state that he needs to deaden his body to immoral actions, hurtful desires and other bad actions that mark this world of men alienated from God. “But now really put them all away from you, wrath, anger, injuriousness, abusive speech, and obscene talk out of your mouth. Do not be lying to one another. Strip off the old personality with its practices, and clothe yourselves with the new personality, which through accurate knowledge is being made new according to the image of the One who created it.”—Col. 3:5-10.
3, 4. Describe the road before Christian young people and the one before worldly youths.
3 There are two roads stretching out in front of today’s youths. The one Christian young people have chosen to follow is a narrow and difficult one. Its boundaries are set by the laws and principles of God’s written Word. That is why its width is limited. As Jesus Christ stayed within those boundaries so they strive to do.
4 The other road is a broad one without boundaries because the young people who walk it have no respect for the laws of God. They imagine themselves to be free to do whatever they please, and they think they can decide for themselves what is right and what is wrong. Actually God reserves to himself the right to decide that for mankind. Consequently they have a mental state that God disapproves. Many of them are “haters of God, insolent, haughty, self-assuming, inventors of injurious things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, false to agreements, having no natural affection, merciless.” (Rom. 1:28-31) The future of the young people who walk this road is eternal death, but the future of those walking the narrow road as Christ’s disciples is just the opposite—eternal life.—Matt. 7:13, 14.
5. Why must those on the narrow road be watchful?
5 Watchfulness is necessary on the part of the young people walking that narrow road. All that separates them from the descending, broad road are the protective boundaries of God’s laws and principles. It is possible for the bad influence of worldly young people to cause a young person on this road to violate those boundaries and fall to the broad road. Getting back on the narrow one can be very difficult. Once off it he can be swept along with the crowd that is alienated from God, being drawn farther and farther from the narrow road to life until it is lost from sight. Would it not be better for him to exercise foresight and not permit the bad influence of worldly young people to cause him to take a wrong step?
6. How might a Christian youth unwisely begin acting like worldly youths, and what is God’s counsel to him?
6 He will want to watch how he walks so he does not unintentionally begin acting like worldly youths. He might do this by repeatedly showing disrespect for his parents and refusing to obey them. This would be contrary to God’s counsel to young people. At Colossians 3:20, Jehovah’s Word says: “You children, be obedient to your parents in everything, for this is well-pleasing in the Lord.” Notice that it says to be “obedient to your parents in everything.” It is understood here that such parents are “in union with the Lord,” as is stated in Ephesians 6:1-4. Otherwise “everything” would include things that might displease the Lord.
7. How should he react to restrictions placed on him by his Christian parents? Why?
7 If Christian parents place unpleasant restrictions on a child of minor age, such as the time he is to be home at night, the way he grooms himself, his manner of dress, his associations, and so forth, he will prove that he is a Christian by obeying his parents “in union with the Lord.” He will recognize God’s arrangement that gives parents authority over their offspring, and he will accept the fact that his parents have the legal right to make decisions for him until he reaches the age when he is free to make them for himself. To rebel against their authority would be going against God’s specific instructions to be obedient. That would hardly be the conduct one would expect to find in a youthful follower of Jesus Christ.
8, 9. What line of thinking followed by many young people of the world will a Christian youth want to avoid? Why?
8 Out of love for what is righteous he will sincerely strive to do what is right in the eyes of God. He will, therefore, avoid the thinking of law-defying youths who believe it is all right to do something wrong if they are not seen or caught at it. Shoplifting, for example, has become a popular practice among many of them. It is taking place in nearly every city and town in the United States. Ten years ago there were only a few teen-age shopliftings a week; now there are about 100,000 a week. Most of the teen-agers involved think of it as a game and fail to see that it is morally wrong. One judge observed that “it’s an indication of how their moral values have decayed.”
9 Notwithstanding the warped judgment of the young people who justify stealing, a Christian youth knows that it is wrong. He knows that God’s written Word plainly forbids it, commanding, “You must not steal.” (Ex. 20:15) He also knows that the Scriptural command to persons who become Christians is: “Let the stealer steal no more.” (Eph. 4:28) So he refuses to participate in any youthful fad that involves stealing or anything else that is contrary to the good morals of God’s Word.
10, 11. (a) How will love for righteousness help a young person? (b) What is good to remember when one is tempted to do something bad in secret?
10 Any young person who has love for what is right in the eyes of God will not entertain the thought of doing something wrong because it does not appear that he will be seen doing it or that he will be caught. For him Jehovah’s righteous laws govern his actions at all times, whether he is with someone or is by himself, whether someone sees him or not. The only question he considers is whether it is right or wrong.
11 He keeps in mind what is written at Isaiah 29:15: “Woe to those who are going very deep in concealing counsel from Jehovah himself, and whose deeds have occurred in a dark place, while they say: ‘Who is seeing us, and who is knowing of us?”’ Even when no one sees a person commit a wrong, God sees him and will take it into account when judging him. There is nothing that a person can do in secret that can be hidden from God. Remembering this ought to help a young Christian to resist the temptation to join worldly young people in any popular practice that is not good in God’s eyes.
12. What bad attitude would a Christian youth want to avoid?
12 Many worldly youths egotistically imagine that they have a sounder and more practical judgment of life than do their parents who begot them and reared them. This is a bad attitude that gets them into a lot of trouble, as police records the world over clearly show. But is that the attitude to be expected from young Christians? How could it be? It reflects the rebellious spirit of the world and not the spirit of Christ. God’s Word commands children to be obedient to their parents, and that includes respect for the judgment and decisions of their parents. So a young Christian will not want to permit the bad attitudes of worldly youths to influence his attitude. He will want to be receptive to whatever his Christian parents teach him.
13. Why is more than superficial obedience necessary for God’s approval?
13 It is possible, however, that a youth who professes to be a Christian may pretend to be obedient to his parents and to God’s laws while being rebellious underneath. This superficial obedience does not make him a Christian. What he appears to be outwardly is not what counts with Jehovah God but, rather, what he is inside, and Jehovah is capable of searching his heart. He would do well to examine himself and take steps now, while there is time, to correct his wrong attitude. He needs to pray for more faith and to make a diligent effort to cultivate it.
14. What quality is necessary for a person to be receptive to the instruction he needs in order to cultivate faith and love of God?
14 A child is not born with a good attitude and a love for God. Both must be cultivated, along with faith. Christian parents help him to do this, but if he has the worldly attitude that he knows more than they do, he will not make progress. The humility that Jesus manifested set the example for his followers. Persons who have it are receptive to instruction and therefore will grow in knowledge and understanding. But how can a person who thinks more of himself than he ought to think make such progress? How can he prove himself to be one of Christ’s followers?—Mic. 6:8; Rom. 12:3.
WATCHING ONE’S CONDUCT
15. Why have a few young persons in God’s organization gotten into trouble?
15 There have been a few young persons in Jehovah’s organization who have not been watchful so as to avoid slipping into the way of life of worldly youths. Having close companionship with them has caused these young people to begin thinking and acting like them. They did not succeed in proving the Bible wrong when it says, “Bad associations spoil useful habits.” (1 Cor. 15:33) Their Christian habits were spoiled. They discontinued the habit of studying God’s Word and taking in spiritual food from his theocratic organization. They discontinued the habit of regular meeting attendance, and they discontinued the habit of living by Christian principles. Because of conduct unbecoming of a Christian they brought reproach upon themselves, their parents and the Christian organization.
16. To what has bad conduct led for some young persons who professed to be Christians?
16 In some instances the conduct of a few young people who had professed to be followers of Christ was so bad that they had to be disfellowshiped from God’s organization. By their bad conduct they showed that they were not in harmony with the high moral standards that guide Jehovah’s dedicated servants. They had to be put out of the organization as the apostle Paul instructed, in order to keep the organization clean and free from reproach. He said: “But now I am writing you to quit mixing in company with anyone called a brother that is a fornicator or a greedy person or an idolater or a reviler or a drunkard or an extortioner, not even eating with such a man.”—1 Cor. 5:11.
17. How has their conduct reflected on God’s organization, and what is their prospect for the future?
17 Such persons have brought reproach upon the name of Christianity just as the many professed Christians of Christendom have done. They have chosen to manifest the same unclean conduct. Speaking of such persons, the scripture at 2 Peter 2:2 states: “Furthermore, many will follow their acts of loose conduct, and on account of these the way of the truth will be spoken of abusively.” Unless these young people turn around by changing their course of conduct, repenting for what they have done, they will remain outside God’s organization. Their future will be that of the worldly youths who are following the broad road to destruction.
18. What course have most young people in Jehovah’s organization followed?
18 But the majority of young people within God’s organization have followed a different course. Like Jesus’ disciples of the first century, they strive to conduct themselves in a way that reflects favorably on true Christianity. It is not their desire to be a reason for abusive speech to come from outsiders upon Jehovah’s organization and the truth. When such abuse does come they want it to be for the truths and the fine principles for which they stand and not because of bad conduct on their part. At all times they seek to prove themselves Christ’s disciples by good conduct, wholesome speech and sensible manners and dress. They want it to appear evident that they are not like worldly youths but are persons who have been taught by God’s organization.
WANTING TO DO RIGHT
19. What desire will Christian young people want to have, and how will it help them every day?
19 When we turn to the Scriptural account of Christ’s faithful followers in the first century we find that they were persons who wanted to do what is right in God’s eyes. This, then, is the desire Christian youths will always want to have. When they are confronted with situations that they know are not Scripturally right, because of this desire they will not permit themselves to become involved. Thus when worldly students urge them to join in protest demonstrations, or acts of vandalism or a wild party, they will have the courage to refuse because they want to do what is right in Jehovah’s eyes. Getting involved in such things could not be pleasing to him. It would not be seeking peace, righteousness and meekness.—1 Pet. 3:11; Zeph. 2:3.
20. What can they show by the companions they choose?
20 By the companions Christian youths choose they show that they want to do what is right and that they are, therefore, true Christians who are living by Christian principles. Can you imagine the young man Timothy, mentioned by the apostle Paul in his inspired letters, seeking the companionship of young, licentious, foul-mouthed Romans? Would he have sought the company of persons who had no respect for the laws of Jehovah God and who were worshipers of false gods? Definitely not! He preferred the companionship of persons who loved Jehovah and who respected his laws and fine principles. Should not that be the preference of young people today who want to prove that they are Christ’s disciples?
21. Why is it unwise to seek the companionship of worldly persons or to marry one?
21 They will want to do what is pleasing to God by avoiding the companionship of worldly young people who lack respect for what is righteous. Even if one of these worldly youths did live by good moral standards, how could he be a good influence if he lacked love for Jehovah God and was involved with a false religion? What Jehovah said to the nation of Israel about not marrying such persons is a good guide for young persons today in choosing companions as well as marriage mates. “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. For he will turn your son from following me, and they will certainly serve other gods.” (Deut. 7:3, 4) Since this happened to wise Solomon, a young Christian should not think it cannot we happen to him. (Neh. 13:26) Further advice is given at 2 Corinthians 6:14, which says: “Do not become unevenly yoked with unbelievers.”
22. Why is it unwise for Christian youths to imitate worldly entertainers, and whom would it be well for them to imitate?
22 What about the popular practice among worldly youths of imitating prominent people in the entertainment world? Is that for Christian youths? Is it not as unwise as choosing bad companions? The hearts of such persons are not on the high standards of God’s Word but on the money they are making as teen-age idols. Would it not be more in keeping with fine Christian principles for a young Christian to imitate persons having God’s approval instead of those who have the approval of worldly youths? The Scriptures give wise counsel when they say: “Remember those who are taking the lead among you, who have spoken the word of God to you, and as you contemplate how their conduct turns out imitate their faith.” (Heb. 13:7) Such persons set a fine example for them in godly devotion.
APPLYING BIBLE COUNSEL
23. What are some situations in which young persons may have to give a Scriptural reason for what they do or do not do, and what will determine their ability to do this?
23 All sorts of situations can arise in which Christian young people must allow Bible counsel to guide their actions in order to avoid doing something wrong in God’s eyes. Consequently they may find it necessary to give a Scriptural reason to outsiders for the actions they take or refuse to take. This may be at school when requested by a teacher to do something contrary to the Scriptures and their Christian conscience, or it may be in their relations with their fellow students. Their ability to give a Scriptural reason for what they do or refuse to do will depend on how well they have taken in the Bible instruction given them by their parents and God’s organization. These are opportunities in which they can prove that they are Christ’s disciples by being able to give a sound and Scriptural “reason for the hope” in them.—1 Pet. 3:15.
24. When in the presence of someone of the opposite sex, how can young Christians prove that they are Christ’s disciples?
24 A situation in which they could get themselves into a lot of trouble if they failed to apply Bible counsel is when they find themselves alone in the presence of someone of the opposite sex. By showing respect for Christian moral laws and principles they can prove in this situation that they are Christians. They will, therefore, not forget those principles under the pressure of fleshly desires. Neither will they try to see how close they can come to immorality without violating a moral law. If the other person attempts to entice them into acts of sexual uncleanness or immorality they will get away from that person as quickly as possible just as Joseph did. (Gen. 39:7-12) They will not care what that person thinks or whether ridicule is heaped upon them for being different from worldly youths. Preserving their moral integrity is more important to them than personal pride.
25, 26. Why would young Christians avoid driving a car in the reckless manner that many worldly youths do, and why would they drive cautiously at all times?
25 Another situation that tests their claim to being Christian is when driving a car. Many worldly youths seek thrills by reckless and fast driving that endangers the lives of others. Some have played a dangerous game in which they drive two cars toward each other at high speed to see who will be first to turn out of the way. Too often this game has ended in a frightful collision. How could young persons consider themselves Christ’s disciples if they threatened the lives of people in this manner? Christ’s true followers do not do things that injure, maim and kill. They respect human life. None of them want bloodguilt on their hands.—Acts 20:26.
26 Not desiring to be like worldly youths, Christian young people will want to demonstrate that they respect the laws of men as well as the laws of God when they drive a car. Out of love for their fellowman they will drive cautiously, having concern for the safety of all in their own car as well as for those in other cars. They will want to drive in a manner that will not give outsiders cause to speak reproachfully of the young people in Jehovah’s organization.
THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY
27. Why does the ministry outstandingly mark a young person as one of Christ’s disciples?
27 In an outstanding way the Christian ministry can identify a person as one of Christ’s followers. It is the work Christ did and the work he commanded his followers to do. (Matt. 28:19, 20) People in the neighborhood will hear the young person talk about God’s purposes when he calls at their door, and they will see him coming and going while engaging in the ministry. In this manner he publicly makes known that he is a follower of Jesus Christ and a witness of Jehovah God. His good conduct and way of life when not in the ministry will confirm this in their eyes.
28. How did Christians of the first century show that they were followers of Christ, and how is this also true of young Christians today?
28 In the first century the followers of Jesus Christ publicly proclaimed the distinctive message he had taught them, and this marked them as his followers. When they spoke on Scriptural matters they spoke with authority, as he did. Young Christians today can do the same because of the fine training they receive from Jehovah’s earthly organization of witnesses. So by the distinctive message about God’s kingdom, the end of the world of sinful mankind and the resurrection of the dead that they proclaim and by the way they use the Bible to lend authority to what they say, they show that they are Christ’s followers in this twentieth century.—Mark 1:22; Acts 4:13.
29. To maintain their prospect for the future, what must young Christians not forget?
29 These young people have good reason to think of the future. They have the marvelous prospect of an indefinite future ahead of them as they continue to walk the narrow road of obedience to God. To maintain that prospect they cannot afford to forget for a moment that they are dedicated, baptized servants of Jehovah God who are following Christ’s example. They cannot permit the fads and unchristian thinking of worldly youths to distort their own thinking and moral standards. At all times they will want their conduct to reflect the fact that they are servants of Jehovah and followers of Christ.
30. How can they keep proving that they are Christ’s disciples?
30 In the few remaining years of the old system of things they will want to do as the Scriptures admonish: “Keep proving what you yourselves are.” (2 Cor. 13:5) By their conduct, by their companions, by their manner of speech, by their wanting and always striving to do what is right in God’s eyes and by their activity in the ministry, they can prove what they are, that they are Christ’s disciples. Are you one of these fine, young people? Are you proving that you are different from worldly young people and have “put on the new personality which was created according to God’s will in true righteousness and loyalty”? (Eph. 4:24) If you are, you have a magnificent future.