Remembering Your Creator in the Days of Your Young Manhood
“Remember, now, your grand Creator in the days of your young manhood.”—Eccl. 12:1.
1. (a) What do the Scriptures show regarding the need for training young people? (b) What timely words of advice did Paul give to young Timothy?
GOD’S Word has much to say about young people. As mentioned in the previous article, the fruitage of the belly is a reward. However, God’s Word also accurately tells us about the makeup of young people and it shows that youths need guidance in growing into adulthood so that they can take on responsibilities. God’s Word accurately says: “Foolishness is tied up with the heart of a boy.” (Prov. 22:15) Jehovah, the Creator, well knows the makeup of his human creation. The young years of life are the formative ones, the ones when the young need guidance and direction. And the extent to which they apply themselves in accepting that guidance and direction will show in their conduct and in the way they accept responsibility in later years. The apostle Paul accurately described the difference between youth and adulthood in these words: “When I was a babe, I used to speak as a babe, to think as a babe, to reason as a babe; but now that I have become a man, I have done away with the traits of a babe.” (1 Cor. 13:11) So it was with good reason that Paul could write to his young companion in the ministry, Timothy, and tell him: “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.
2. What outstanding quality do godly young persons have?
2 This by no means is to say that the young years of a person’s life are a curse, nor should one conclude that the Word of God in any way debases youth. Hardly could that be the case, for it was the Lord Jesus Christ who said to those questioning him about who would be the greatest in the kingdom of the heavens: “Truly I say to you, Unless you turn around and become as young children, you will by no means enter into the kingdom of the heavens.” (Matt. 18:3) Jesus explained that there is humility in children. Therefore, no one should think too highly of himself, but have the humble spirit of a godly child. The apostle Paul also gave commendation to children in this way: “Brothers, do not become young children in powers of understanding, but be babes as to badness; yet become full-grown in powers of understanding.”—1 Cor. 14:20.
3. (a) In what do children need training? (b) Who are responsible to give this training, and why should such training not be passed off to others?
3 So it is that youths need training and education in the important things in life, namely, righteousness, faith, love and peace. On the other hand, none should ever lose the proper attitude toward right and wrong that was had by him as a youth. This proper training is best given by God-fearing parents. It involves a deep interest in the welfare and rearing of children. Such training and education should not be passed off to others to care for, as is so often the case in the present system of things. This has resulted in many young persons feeling isolated from their parents, as not wanted, sometimes even as a nuisance. This in turn has led to the so-called generation gap that exists between parents and children. To cope with this tendency, God-fearing parents want to do all they possibly can to establish and maintain solid relations with their children so that their children will have confidence in them, the kind of confidence that will lead the children to their parents to discuss problems, and not to their friends on the street or other outsiders.
GOOD EXAMPLES BY TODAY’S YOUTH
4. Because there is some of this fine training being given today, what can be observed?
4 This type of communication and training does exist today and many are the young people who are remembering their Creator in their youth, and who are giving no cause for anyone to look down upon them because they are young. To consider their experiences is upbuilding and an encouragement to others in walking on the road to life.
5. (a) Relate the experience of the two young boys in France. (b) What commendation did the parents receive?
5 One example concerns two young boys in France who gave a witness concerning their faith and convictions, and the householder to whom they spoke wrote a letter to the parents of the two boys saying: “I am still under the charm of the long conversation I have had this morning with your two children, and since I am appreciative of all that is beautiful and upright, I am taking this liberty of writing to you, their parents, to—shall we say—congratulate them. Truly, I never remember having heard children express their faith so interestingly and with so much conviction and intelligence. Particularly the elder one. If he perseveres, by God’s grace, humanity has there the makings of a true man. In a world whose values are falling apart, it is comforting to meet values that the passing years will, I trust, bring to maturity and fruition. I do not know you, but judging by your two children, you must be praiseworthy parents.” There can be no doubt that these young boys were remembering their Creator in the days of their youth. They were not looked down upon for so doing, but praised, as were the parents of such children.
6. How did two young publishers in Burma show they remembered their Creator in the days of their youth, and with what good results?
6 There is another case of youths being a praise to the name of Jehovah. This comes from the country of Burma. A letter from an educated aged person who learned the truth with the help of young publishers shows that worldly adults do not know the Scriptures even as much as youths who are Jehovah’s witnesses: “One rainy day two young men came to my house. Thinking they had come to take shelter from the rains, I invited them in. But they introduced themselves as ministers and gave a sermon. After hearing it I was surprised to know that these young men knew more about the future of the earth than I did. I am now seventy-four years old and have been a Baptist since the age of fourteen and have been looked upon as an elder and committee member of the women’s group in my town, but my knowledge of the Bible seemed nothing in comparison to that of these youths. They left me some magazines and tracts and I became engrossed in reading them. What I read made me think seriously, and I wanted to meet them again to ask some questions. To my surprise and joy, they came back to see me. One of them started a Bible study with me. Since that day I have been very happy to know the true God and his purposes. With God’s help I have now gained a better understanding of his Word. My only regret is that I did not get the truth sooner. I could then have done more for our Creator. Still, I am very thankful that during the remaining short period of my life-span I can yet serve Jehovah God.” Again it is evident that no one can look down on the conduct of such youths as they share in telling the good news of salvation to others.
7. Show how a young twelve-year-old boy in Jamaica, West Indies, was one who did not forget.
7 A twelve-year-old boy in Jamaica, West Indies, listened to a Bible discussion among Jehovah’s witnesses and was impressed with what the Bible said about “witnessing” and “witnesses.” He began attending meetings at the Kingdom Hall, to the chagrin of his mother. She made it clear that he was not to attend again. He obeyed and so his only contact with the Witnesses for some time was through an occasional magazine that his uncle would get from the Witnesses. One weekend he was visiting his grandmother and while he was there a witness of Jehovah called at the home. He listened to the sermon and accepted a booklet, which he read and reread, practically memorizing every word. He began witnessing to his mother, grandmother and aunt. His mother’s opposition softened. When his aunt moved to England, he continued encouraging her through correspondence to get in touch with the Witnesses and allow them to assist her to learn of God’s purposes. She did and is now dedicated to God. In the meantime he obtained further publications, studied and began attending meetings again and asked to be assisted in the field ministry. He is now regularly serving the interests of the Kingdom as an ordained minister of Jehovah. This young man certainly listened with understanding and was instrumental in helping also his relative to become a servant of Jehovah.
8. (a) What is the counsel of Proverbs 22:6? (b) How have many at the headquarters of the Watch Tower Society shown that their early training was beneficial?
8 How interested all parents should be in helping their children grow up with an accurate knowledge of God’s Word and his purposes for mankind! They can indeed be a blessing to the parents and a grand praise to the name of Jehovah. Many young persons are anxious to take up the ministry and to be pleasing to their heavenly Father. If they are solidly based in the truths of God’s Word they will continue therein throughout their adult life. The wise counsel of the Proverbs is: “Train up a boy according to the way for him; even when he grows old he will not turn aside from it.” (Prov. 22:6) Many young persons have come to serve at the Watch Tower Society’s headquarters and branch offices in different parts of the world and they are continuing in their privileges of serving the Lord’s interests right up to the present time. Interestingly, in the Bethel home of the Watch Tower Society in Brooklyn, of the twenty-five oldest members of the staff twenty came when they were between the ages of eighteen and thirty. Today they range in age from sixty-five to eighty-four. They are still serving faithfully in their duties and responsibilities. From the days of their youth they have remembered their Creator. And there is no doubt that they feel as the psalmist said: “A young man I used to be, I have also grown old, and yet I have not seen anyone righteous left entirely, nor his offspring looking for bread.” (Ps. 37:25) Jehovah has kept them in his care and they have had the joy of serving him and doing his will.
HELPING THE YOUNGER GENERATION
9. (a) What question is now posed for parents and other adults? (b) Why is it more difficult, in this day especially, to avoid rebellion and immorality?
9 So now the question before parents and adults in this day is: What can you do to help your children and young people in general to be the kind of persons who will remember their Creator so that no man can ever look down on their youth? A glance at the world we live in shows it is a system that is sowing the seeds of rebellion and immorality. In fact, there is a deliberate attempt to undermine young people, to turn them to wicked acts. This is not something peculiar just to recent days. The world has been on an accelerated downward course as far as its morals are concerned since mankind was thrown into the throes of World War I. By the time of Hitler’s rise to power in Germany in the thirties this downward trend was well under way. With an assist from Nazism the process was even faster. There is much evidence that those chosen to be elite members of the Nazi SS forces were introduced to abnormal sexual activities as part of their conditioning process to break down their attachment to all traditional moral values. C. S. Lewis’ novel, That Hideous Strength, shows a young intellectual being introduced to revolting practices by the agents of evil, precisely because once he has been accustomed to accept the unnatural and monstrous, then no order or request from his masters will be refused.
10. In order to give effective training to their children, what must parents keep in mind?
10 To help your children face today’s world of violence, lack of respect, and desire for wicked acts you must give them the training called for by God’s Word. You must be honest and straightforward with them. You cannot be hypocritical, taking as your motto: Do as I say but not as I do. Young people can see through such a veneer of self-righteousness. It is as the apostle Paul said: “Do you, however, the one teaching someone else, not teach yourself? You, the one preaching ‘Do not steal,’ do you steal? You, the one saying ‘Do not commit adultery,’ do you commit adultery?” (Rom. 2:21, 22) Parents and other adults must set the right example for children if they are to grow up in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah and remember their Creator.
11. What must parents guard against in training children?
11 Oftentimes parents use sarcasm in dealing with their children. They belittle them or their intelligence, causing the child to feel humiliated. This is not proper. This is not Christian. This is not Biblical. Said the apostle Paul on this point: “You fathers, do not be exasperating your children, so that they do not become downhearted.” (Col. 3:21) A child will not be given every opportunity to grow up as a praiser of Jehovah in his youth if those who brought him into the world constantly berate him and bring him to the point of exasperation. This does not mean that every whim and wish of the child is to be granted by the parents. Rather, as the Proverbs say, train up the child in the way he should go.
12. (a) What common complaint do young people often have about their parents, and what, in turn, is the complaint of the parents? (b) What is thus the result?
12 One of the most common complaints of young people today is: “My parents just don’t understand me.” If that is the case in your family, or the situation is heading in that direction, then now is the time to straighten out matters before it is too late. Now is the time to be understood because the moment is late. A wicked system of things is about to be destroyed. For the preservation of yourself and your children now is the time to come to an understanding. Many parents will say: “If you only knew how we have tried, but we just seem to be in two different worlds.” But oftentimes parents have waited so long that there has been a breach that has widened between them and their children. The parents do not know what their children are doing, who their friends are, and where they are. The children adopt their own code, their own style of dress, their own way of life. Then suddenly the parents come to realize they are talking a different language, as it were, and so neither side understands the other.
13. What basic instructions are outlined for training a seeing-eye dog, leading to what comparison with training children?
13 It certainly is true that to be a good parent is a full-time job. There are no shortcuts in this training either. It is said regarding the training of seeing-eye dogs for the blind, that the trainer must have unlimited patience. All his lessons must be taught by affection and never by brutality. When a dog learns well he is always rewarded by an approving pat, kind words and a little tidbit that he is specially fond of. A mistake must never be let go by but must be corrected at once. There are times when adults give more attention and care to the training of animals than they do their children. Nothing is more important to the Christian than the training of his children. If unlimited patience is required in training an animal, can anything less be expected in training a child? If an animal needs to be taught by affection and never by brutality, what should we conclude about the children we may bring forth into this world? If an animal reacts to an approving word or deed, what should we expect in training children? And if animals’ mistakes must not go uncorrected, what is there to be said about mistakes children make?
14. Why is it not reasonable for parents to conclude that, if they just let things go, everything will work out all right in regard to their children?
14 The youths of today will be the adults of tomorrow. If a young person remembers his Creator in the days of his youth, then in his adult years he will be equipped to face the problems of life and bring praise to his heavenly Father, and honor to his parents. It is not reasonable for parents to think that if they just let things go everything will work out all right. The odds are against such an outcome. For a young child to be an example “in conduct, in love, in faith, in chasteness,” he must have the example from his parents and other adults in the Christian congregation and he must be aided to walk in the right path by such older ones.
15. What is required of the adult generation if it is going to help the young generation?
15 Now is the time of all times for young people to respond to the call to be servants of Jehovah God, mankind’s Creator and Great Benefactor. In the face of world rebellion by so many young people, now is the time to help those who truly wish to remember their Creator and who want to come to know him better. The adult generation can do much to help young persons who are searching for the right answers to the problems of the day. So it is up to the adult generation to remember the Creator and to walk in upright conduct, in love, in faith and in chasteness, so that they can assist the young to follow in such righteous steps. The answer does not lie in watering down God’s laws, becoming like those who have forsaken right principles. No, but it calls for mature people to set the right example. Avoid hypocrisy, trying to appear as something you are not. Put on a new personality, one fashioned according to Christ. Let this new personality serve as an encouragement to the young so that they will be drawn to the right principles of the Bible and want to remember their Creator.—Col. 3:5-10.
16. Who are we called upon to remember? Why?
16 Remember Elihu, Josiah, Jeremiah, Daniel and his three companions. Rehearse in your mind their acts of upright conduct in the days of their youth. Think of the young man Jesus and his way of life, which was one of righteousness and subjection to his parents. Think of the examples we have considered in today’s world of the young boys in France and in Burma as well as Jamaica and elsewhere in the world. They are remembering their Creator in the days of their young manhood. No doubt you are acquainted with many fine, young people who are conducting themselves in such a way that no man can look down on their youth. And perhaps you know of some young ones in need of help through mature assistance and care.
17. What will result if proper training and instruction, along with a good example, are given to our youth?
17 Now, then, ask yourself, What can I do to be of further help to the young persons? If you are a parent, can you give even more care and attention to your children to ensure their growing up as praisers of Jehovah? If you are associated with the Christian witnesses of Jehovah in a congregation, ask what you can do to help the young by your example in zeal and devotion to Jehovah and the doing of his will. Do not conclude that you are doing all you possibly can. There is always room for improvement. By taking a proper interest in gaining and maintaining good lines of communication with the young ones and by the young ones responding in their speaking, conduct, love, faith and chasteness, great praise will be given to mankind’s Creator, Jehovah God. Then all together can carry out the words of the psalmist, who said: “Praise Jah, you people! Praise Jehovah from the heavens, praise him in the heights. Praise Jehovah from the earth, . . . you young men and also you virgins, you old men together with boys. Let them praise the name of Jehovah, for his name alone is unreachably high. His dignity is above earth and heaven.”—Ps. 148:1, 7, 12, 13.