Youths, Walk Worthily of Jehovah
SOME Christian youths have temporarily had to live away from their family and their home congregation. Some have done so in order to expand their ministry. Others have had to leave their home because of their neutral stand toward the affairs of this world. (Isaiah 2:4; John 17:16) In certain lands, “Caesar” has sentenced integrity-keeping youths to prison or to community work.*—Mark 12:17; Titus 3:1, 2.
While serving prison sentences for their neutrality, these youths may be confined with delinquents for extended periods. Being away from home for other reasons has likewise forced youths to work in an unsavory environment. How can these young Christians or others forced into such a situation successfully cope with the pressures and demands they face as they strive to “go on walking worthily of God?” (1 Thessalonians 2:12) How can their parents help them to prepare for any possible unpleasant circumstances?—Proverbs 22:3.
“Being away from the protective care of my parents as well as the loving oversight of elders who knew me well was difficult and intimidating,” says 21-year-old Tákis, who was obliged to spend 37 months away from home.* He adds: “At times, I felt extremely vulnerable.” Twenty-year-old Pétros had to be away from home for more than two years. He admits: “For the first time in my life, I had to make decisions about entertainment and associations entirely on my own, and my choices were not always wise.” He then comments: “Sometimes I felt uneasy with the greater responsibility that increased freedom brought.” Tássos, a Christian elder who regularly comes in contact with Christian youths in such situations, observed: “The unclean speech, rebelliousness, and violent behavior of unbelieving peers may rub off on unwary and vulnerable youths.”
Living and working among people who lack respect for Bible principles, such Christian youths need to guard against the temptation to imitate their peers’ immoral and unscriptural ways. (Psalm 1:1; 26:4; 119:9) Maintaining a good routine of personal study, meeting attendance, and field service may seem difficult. (Philippians 3:16) Setting and working toward spiritual goals may also not be easy.
Faithful Christian youths surely want to please Jehovah with their conduct and speech. They loyally try to heed the appealing invitation of their heavenly Father: “Be wise, my son, and make my heart rejoice, that I may make a reply to him that is taunting me.” (Proverbs 27:11) They recognize that their decorum and behavior has a bearing on how others view Jehovah and his people.—1 Peter 2:12.
Commendably, most of such youths do their best to be like their first-century brothers about whom the apostle Paul prayed: “Walk worthily of Jehovah to the end of fully pleasing him as you go on bearing fruit in every good work . . . so as to endure fully and be long-suffering with joy.” (Colossians 1:9-11) The Bible provides several examples of God-fearing youths who successfully walked worthily of God amid a strange, hostile, and idolatrous environment.—Philippians 2:15.
“Jehovah Was With Joseph”
At a tender age, Joseph, the beloved son of Jacob and Rachel, found himself far away from the protective nest of his God-fearing father. He was sold into slavery in Egypt. Joseph set a sterling example as an industrious, trustworthy, and moral young man. Despite slaving for Potiphar—a person who was not a worshiper of Jehovah—Joseph was conscientious and diligent, so that his master eventually entrusted all household affairs to him. (Genesis 39:2-6) Joseph kept his integrity to Jehovah, and when this resulted in his being thrown into prison, he did not conclude: “What’s the use?” Even in prison he displayed fine qualities, and soon he was taking care of many details in the prison’s operation. (Genesis 39:17-22) God blessed him, and as stated at Genesis 39:23, “Jehovah was with Joseph.”
How easy it would have been for Joseph, isolated from his God-fearing family, to have conformed his conduct to that of the pagans who lived all around him, fashioning himself after the immoral Egyptian way of life! Instead, he held on to godly principles and kept his clean standing despite the strongest of temptations. When Potiphar’s wife repeatedly urged him to have relations with her, his resolute answer was: “How could I commit this great badness and actually sin against God?”—Genesis 39:7-9.
Today, Witness youths need to heed the Bible-based warnings against improper associations, immoral entertainment, pornography, and debasing music. They realize that “the eyes of Jehovah are in every place, keeping watch upon the bad ones and the good ones.”—Proverbs 15:3.
Moses Shunned the “Enjoyment of Sin”
Moses grew up in the idolatrous and pleasure-seeking environment of Pharaoh’s court. The Bible says of him: “By faith Moses . . . refused to be called the son of the daughter of Pharaoh, choosing to be ill-treated with the people of God rather than to have the temporary enjoyment of sin.”—Hebrews 11:24, 25.
Friendship with the world can result in certain advantages, but it is short-lived. At the most, it can last only for the limited time that is left for this world. (1 John 2:15-17) Would it not be better to follow the example of Moses? The Bible says that “he continued steadfast as seeing the One who is invisible.” (Hebrews 11:27) He kept his mind focused on the spiritual heritage of his God-fearing ancestors. He made Jehovah’s purpose his purpose in life, setting as his goal the doing of God’s will.—Exodus 2:11; Acts 7:23, 25.
When God-fearing youths find themselves in an ungodly and unfriendly environment, they can strengthen their personal relationship with Jehovah through personal study, getting to know better “the One who is invisible.” A full program of Christian activities, including regular meeting attendance and field service, will help these youths to keep their mind focused on spiritual things. (Psalm 63:6; 77:12) They should strive to cultivate faith and hope as strong as that of Moses. They would do well to center their thinking and actions on Jehovah, happy to be his friend.
She Used Her Tongue to Bless God
Another youth who proved exemplary while away from home was the Israelite girl captured by the Syrians in the days of God’s prophet Elisha. She became the maidservant of the wife of a leprous Syrian army chief, Naaman. This girl told her mistress: “If only my lord were before the prophet that is in Samaria! In that case he would recover him from his leprosy.” Because of her witness, Naaman went to Elisha in Israel and was cleansed of leprosy. Moreover, Naaman became a worshiper of Jehovah.—2 Kings 5:1-3, 13-19.
The example of this girl stresses the need for youths to use their tongue in a God-honoring way, even when they are away from their parents. If that girl had had the habit of using “foolish talking” or “obscene jesting,” would she have felt comfortable to use her tongue effectively as she did when the opportunity arose? (Ephesians 5:4; Proverbs 15:2) Níkos, a young man in his early 20’s who was imprisoned because of his neutral stand, recalls: “When I was with some other young brothers at an agricultural prison, away from parental and congregational authority, I noticed that the quality of our speech deteriorated. It definitely did not bring praise to Jehovah.” Happily, Níkos and others have been helped to heed Paul’s counsel on this matter: “Let fornication and uncleanness of every sort or greediness not even be mentioned among you, just as it befits holy people.”—Ephesians 5:3.
Jehovah Was Real to Them
The experience of the three Hebrew companions of Daniel in ancient Babylon testifies to the truth of the principle stated by Jesus that faithfulness in little things leads to faithfulness in big things. (Luke 16:10) When faced with the problem of eating foods forbidden by the Law of Moses, they could have rationalized that they were captives in a foreign land and thus had no choice in the matter. But what a blessing they received for taking seriously even what might have seemed to be a little thing! They proved to be both healthier and wiser than all the other captives who kept on eating the king’s dainties. Faithfulness in these little things undoubtedly strengthened them, so that when they were faced with the greater test of bowing down to an idolatrous image, they refused to compromise.—Daniel 1:3-21; 3:1-30.
Jehovah was very real to these three young men. Despite being away from their home and the center of God’s worship, they were determined to keep unspotted from the world. (2 Peter 3:14) Their relationship with Jehovah was so precious to them that they were willing to sacrifice their lives for it.
Jehovah Will Not Forsake You
When youths are away from the ones they love and trust, they understandably may feel insecure, uncertain, and apprehensive. However, they can meet their tests and trials with complete confidence that “Jehovah will not forsake” them. (Psalm 94:14) If such youths “suffer for the sake of righteousness,” Jehovah is there to help them keep walking in “the path of righteousness.”—1 Peter 3:14; Proverbs 8:20.
Jehovah consistently strengthened and richly rewarded Joseph, Moses, the Israelite slave girl, and the three faithful Hebrew youths. Today, he is using his holy spirit, his Word, and his organization to sustain those who “fight the fine fight of the faith,” setting before them the reward of “everlasting life.” (1 Timothy 6:11, 12) Yes, walking worthily of Jehovah is possible, and it is the wise thing to do.—Proverbs 23:15, 19.
Some names have been changed.
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PARENTS—PREPARE YOUR CHILDREN!
“Like arrows in the hand of a mighty man, so are the sons of youth.” (Psalm 127:4) An arrow will not reach its target by accident. It must be skillfully aimed. Similarly, children will not be prepared to face the realities of living away from home without proper parental guidance.—Proverbs 22:6.
Young ones are prone to act on impulse or to give in to “the desires incidental to youth.” (2 Timothy 2:22) The Bible warns: “The rod and reproof are what give wisdom; but a boy let on the loose will be causing his mother shame.” (Proverbs 29:15) A failure to have limits on youthful behavior leaves a child unprepared for the demands and pressures of life away from home.
In a clear and responsible way, Christian parents should outline for their children the difficulties, pressures, and realities of life in this system of things. Without being pessimistic or negative, they can describe the unpleasant conditions a youth may face if he has to live away from home. This training, coupled with God-given wisdom, will “give to the inexperienced ones shrewdness, to a young man knowledge and thinking ability.”—Proverbs 1:4.
Parents who instill godly values and moral principles in the hearts of their children enable them to survive the challenges of life. Regular family Bible study, open communication, and genuine interest in their offspring’s welfare, can make the difference between success and failure. Parents should provide godly training in a balanced yet positive and reasonable way, preparing their children to stand on their own feet later in life. By personal example, parents can teach their children that it is possible to be in the world but to be no part of it.—John 17:15, 16.
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Some Christian youths have had to leave their home
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By resisting temptation, youths can imitate Joseph and stay morally clean
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Imitate the Israelite slave girl who used her tongue to bring glory to Jehovah