Youths—Make Your Advancement Manifest
“Ponder over these things; be absorbed in them, that your advancement may be manifest to all persons.”—1 TIM. 4:15.
1. What does God desire for young people?
“O YOUTH, enjoy yourself while you are young! Let your heart lead you to enjoyment in the days of your youth.” (Eccl. 11:9, Tanakh—The Holy Scriptures) So wrote wise King Solomon of ancient Israel. The Originator of this message, Jehovah God, certainly wants you youths to be happy. More than that, Jehovah wants your joy to last beyond the time of youth. However, those days of youth are often marred by painful mistakes that may affect a person’s future happiness. Even faithful Job bemoaned having to face “the consequences of the errors of [his] youth.” (Job 13:26) During adolescence and the following early years of life, a young Christian often has to make weighty decisions. Bad judgment can leave deep emotional scars and create problems that may affect the rest of his life.—Eccl. 11:10.
2. By applying what Bible counsel can youths avoid serious mistakes?
2 Good judgment needs to be exercised by young people. Consider the advice the apostle Paul gave to the Corinthians. He wrote: “Do not become young children in powers of understanding . . . Become full-grown in powers of understanding.” (1 Cor. 14:20) Heeding the counsel to acquire the ability to think and reason like a full-grown person will help young people to avoid making serious mistakes.
3. What can you do to become mature?
3 If you are a young person, bear in mind that becoming mature requires effort. Paul told Timothy: “Let no man ever look down on your youth. On the contrary, become an example to the faithful ones in speaking, in conduct, in love, in faith, in chasteness. . . . Continue applying yourself to public reading, to exhortation, to teaching. . . . Ponder over these things; be absorbed in them, that your advancement may be manifest to all persons.” (1 Tim. 4:12-15) Christian youths need to make progress and make their advancement manifest to others.
What Is Advancement?
4. What does making spiritual advancement involve?
4 To advance is “to progress, to change for the better.” Paul was urging Timothy to keep applying himself in order to make progress in speech, conduct, love, faith, and chasteness, as well as in the way he fulfilled his ministry. He was to strive to make his manner of life exemplary. Timothy thus needed to continue to make spiritual advancement.
5, 6. (a) When did Timothy’s advancement begin to be manifest? (b) With regard to making advancement, how can youths today imitate Timothy?
5 When Paul penned this counsel sometime between 61 and 64 C.E., Timothy was already an experienced elder. He was not just beginning to make spiritual advancement. In 49 or 50 C.E. when Timothy was likely in his late teens or early 20’s, he was “well reported on by the brothers in Lystra and Iconium,” who had observed his spiritual progress. (Acts 16:1-5) At that time, Paul took Timothy with him on his missionary journey. After observing Timothy’s further progress for some months, Paul dispatched him to Thessalonica in order to comfort and make firm the Christians in that city. (Read 1 Thessalonians 3:1-3, 6.) Clearly, Timothy began to make his advancement manifest to others when he was a young person.
6 You young people in the congregation, work to cultivate the needed spiritual qualities now, so that your advancement in Christian living and in your ability to teach Bible truths will be clearly seen. From the age of 12, Jesus “went on progressing in wisdom.” (Luke 2:52) Let us, then, examine how you can make your advancement manifest in three areas of your life: (1) when you face adversity, (2) as you prepare for marriage, and (3) as you strive to become “a fine minister.”—1 Tim. 4:6.
Meet Adversity With “Soundness of Mind”
7. How can adversity affect young people?
7 A 17-year-old Christian named Carol said, “At times, I have been emotionally, physically, and mentally drained to the point that I didn’t want to wake up in the morning.”* Why was she so distressed? When Carol was ten years old, her family was shattered by divorce, and she ended up living with her mother, who rejected the Bible’s moral standards. Like Carol, you may be facing some severely stressful situations with little chance of improvement.
8. With what adversities did Timothy struggle?
8 While making spiritual progress, Timothy too struggled with adverse circumstances. For instance, he experienced “frequent cases of sickness” because of stomach trouble. (1 Tim. 5:23) When Paul sent him to Corinth to handle certain problems caused by individuals who had challenged the apostle’s authority, Paul urged the congregation to cooperate, so that Timothy would be “free of fear” among them. (1 Cor. 4:17; 16:10, 11) Evidently, Timothy was shy, or timid.
9. What is soundness of mind, and how does it differ from a spirit of cowardice?
9 To help Timothy, Paul later reminded him: “God gave us not a spirit of cowardice, but that of power and of love and of soundness of mind.” (2 Tim. 1:7) “Soundness of mind” involves being able to think and reason sensibly. It includes the ability to face things as they are—not the way you would like them to be. Some immature youths manifest a spirit of cowardice and mentally try to escape stressful situations by resorting to excessive sleep or TV viewing, drug or alcohol abuse, constant partying, or sexual immorality. Christians are admonished “to repudiate ungodliness and worldly desires and to live with soundness of mind and righteousness and godly devotion amid this present system of things.”—Titus 2:12.
10, 11. How does soundness of mind help us to develop spiritual strength?
10 The Bible exhorts “younger men to be sound in mind.” (Titus 2:6) Heeding this counsel means that you will face problems prayerfully and will rely on God-given strength. (Read 1 Peter 4:7.) Thus, you will develop heartfelt confidence in “the strength that God supplies.”—1 Pet. 4:11.
11 Soundness of mind and prayer are what helped Carol. “Having to take a stand against my mother’s immoral lifestyle was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do,” she said. “But prayer really helped. I know Jehovah is with me, so I am not afraid anymore.” Remember, adversity can refine and strengthen you. (Ps. 105:17-19; Lam. 3:27) Regardless of what you face, God will never let you down. He will “really help you.”—Isa. 41:10.
Preparing for a Successful Marriage
12. Why should a Christian considering marriage apply the principle found at Proverbs 20:25?
12 Some young adults have rushed into marriage, believing that it is the solution to unhappiness, loneliness, boredom, and problems at home. However, the exchanging of marriage vows is a serious matter. Some in Bible times rashly made a sacred, or holy, vow without carefully analyzing what was involved. (Read Proverbs 20:25.) At times, young adults do not seriously consider the demands of marriage. Later, they find that much more is involved than they had realized.
13. What questions should those contemplating courtship consider, and what helpful advice is available to them?
13 So before pursuing a courtship, ask yourself: ‘Why do I want to get married? What expectations do I have? Is this the right person for me? What can I bring to a marriage?’ To help you make an insightful examination, “the faithful and discreet slave” has published very specific articles.* (Matt. 24:45-47) View such material as advice that Jehovah is giving you. Carefully evaluate what is stated there and apply it. Never allow yourself to become “like a horse or mule without understanding.” (Ps. 32:8, 9) Become full-grown in your understanding of the demands of marriage. If you feel that you are ready to pursue a courtship, always remember to be “an example . . . in chasteness.”—1 Tim. 4:12.
14. How can spiritual advancement help you if you marry?
14 Spiritual maturity also brings success after marriage. A full-grown Christian strives to attain “the measure of stature that belongs to the fullness of the Christ.” (Eph. 4:11-14) He works hard to develop a Christlike personality. As our Exemplar, “the Christ did not please himself.” (Rom. 15:3) When both mates keep seeking, not their own advantage, but that of the other, family life will be a haven of peace and comfort. (1 Cor. 10:24) A husband will show self-sacrificing love, and a wife will be determined to be in submission to her husband as Jesus is to his Head.—1 Cor. 11:3; Eph. 5:25.
“Fully Accomplish Your Ministry”
15, 16. How can you make your advancement manifest in the ministry?
15 Drawing attention to Timothy’s important assignment, Paul wrote: “I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus, . . . preach the word, be at it urgently.” He added: “Do the work of an evangelizer, fully accomplish your ministry.” (2 Tim. 4:1, 2, 5) To fulfill this charge, Timothy had to be “nourished with the words of the faith.”—Read 1 Timothy 4:6.
16 How can you be “nourished with the words of the faith”? Paul wrote: “Continue applying yourself to public reading, to exhortation, to teaching. Ponder over these things; be absorbed in them.” (1 Tim. 4:13, 15) Improvement requires diligent personal study. The expression “be absorbed” conveys the idea of being immersed in an activity. How are your study habits? Are you absorbed in “the deep things of God”? (1 Cor. 2:10) Or do you put forth only minimal effort? Pondering over what you study will move your heart.—Read Proverbs 2:1-5.
17, 18. (a) What abilities should you strive to cultivate? (b) How will developing the same disposition as that of Timothy help you in the ministry?
17 A young pioneer named Michelle said: “To be truly effective in the ministry, I have a good schedule for personal study, and I am regular at the meetings. As a result of this, I am always growing spiritually.” Serving as a pioneer will indeed help you to improve your ability to use the Bible in the ministry and to make spiritual advancement. Strive to be a good reader and to give meaningful comments at Christian meetings. As a spiritually mature youth, you would want to prepare instructive student talks in the Theocratic Ministry School, adhering to the assigned material.
18 ‘Doing the work of an evangelizer’ means making your ministry more effective and helping others to gain salvation. This requires developing the “art of teaching.” (2 Tim. 4:2) By arranging to share in the ministry with those who are experienced in this work, you will be able to learn from their teaching methods, as Timothy learned from working with Paul. (1 Cor. 4:17) Referring to those he had helped, Paul said that he not only shared the good news with them but also gave of his ‘own soul,’ or used his very life in helping them, because they became beloved to him. (1 Thess. 2:8) To follow Paul’s example in the ministry, you must have the same disposition as Timothy, who genuinely cared about others and ‘slaved in furtherance of the good news.’ (Read Philippians 2:19-23.) Do you show this self-sacrificing spirit in your ministry?
Advancement Brings Real Satisfaction
19, 20. Why does making spiritual advancement bring joy?
19 Making spiritual advancement takes effort. But by patiently cultivating your teaching skills, you will, in time, have the privilege of “making many rich” spiritually, and they will become your “joy or crown of exultation.” (2 Cor. 6:10; 1 Thess. 2:19) “More than ever before, my time is spent helping others,” explained Fred, a full-time minister. “It is so true that there is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.”
20 Regarding the joy and satisfaction she experienced from growing spiritually, a young pioneer named Daphne said: “I developed a much closer relationship with Jehovah as I began to appreciate him as a Person. When you please Jehovah to the fullest extent of your ability, you feel so good—really satisfied!” Though spiritual advancement may not always be recognized by humans, Jehovah always sees and values it. (Heb. 4:13) Without question, you young Christians can bring glory and praise to our heavenly Father. Continue to make his heart rejoice as you genuinely make your advancement manifest.—Prov. 27:11.
Some names have been changed.
“Is This Person Right for Me?” in the book Questions Young People Ask—Answers That Work, Volume 2; “Divine Guidance for Selecting a Marriage Mate,” in The Watchtower of May 15, 2001; and “How Wise Is a Teenage Marriage?” in Awake! of September 22, 1983.
What Did You Learn?
• What is involved in making spiritual advancement?
• How can you make your advancement manifest . . .
when facing adversity?
in preparing for marriage?
in the ministry?
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Prayer can help you to cope with adversity
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How can young publishers develop effective teaching methods?