Young People—Strengthen Your Desire to Serve Jehovah
“Remember, now, your Grand Creator in the days of your young manhood.”—ECCL. 12:1.
1. What invitation was extended to children in Israel?
SOME 3,500 years ago, Jehovah’s prophet Moses commanded the priests and the older men of Israel: “Congregate the people, the men and the women and the little ones . . . , in order that they may listen and in order that they may learn, as they must fear Jehovah your God and take care to carry out all the words of this law.” (Deut. 31:12) Note who were instructed to attend gatherings for worship: men, women, and little ones. Yes, even young ones were among those who were told to listen, learn, and follow Jehovah’s direction.
2. How did Jehovah express his concern for youths in the early Christian congregation?
2 In the first century, Jehovah continued to express his concern for godly youths. For example, he inspired the apostle Paul to include in some of the letters that he sent to the congregations instructions specifically directed to young people. (Read Ephesians 6:1; Colossians 3:20.) Young Christians who applied such counsel progressed in their appreciation for their loving heavenly Father and received his blessing.
3. How do young people today demonstrate their desire to serve God?
3 Are young ones today invited to congregate in order to worship Jehovah? Yes! It is, therefore, a source of joy for all of God’s people to observe that so many young servants of God around the world take to heart Paul’s exhortation: “Let us consider one another to incite to love and fine works, not forsaking the gathering of ourselves together, as some have the custom, but encouraging one another, and all the more so as you behold the day drawing near.” (Heb. 10:24, 25) Further, many children share with their parents in preaching the good news of God’s Kingdom. (Matt. 24:14) And as an expression of their heartfelt love for Jehovah, many thousands of young people every year present themselves for baptism and enjoy the blessings that result from being a disciple of Christ.—Matt. 16:24; Mark 10:29, 30.
Accept the Invitation—Now
4. When can youths accept God’s invitation to serve him?
4 Ecclesiastes 12:1 states: “Remember, now, your Grand Creator in the days of your young manhood.” How old do you young ones need to be in order to accept that warm invitation to worship and serve Jehovah? No age is specified in the Scriptures. Therefore, do not hold back, thinking that you are too young to listen to Jehovah and to serve him. No matter how old you are, you are encouraged to respond without delay.
5. How can parents help their children to make spiritual advancement?
5 Many of you are helped to make spiritual advancement by one or both of your parents. In this way, you are like Timothy of Bible times. When he was just an infant, he was taught the holy writings by his mother, Eunice, and his grandmother Lois. (2 Tim. 3:14, 15) Likely, your parents are training you in a similar way by studying the Bible with you, praying with you, taking you to congregation meetings and larger assemblies of God’s people, and sharing with you in the field ministry. Really, teaching you God’s ways is a highly important responsibility that your parents received from Jehovah himself. Do you appreciate their love and concern for you?—Prov. 23:22.
6. (a) According to Psalm 110:3, what form of worship is pleasing to Jehovah? (b) What will we now consider?
6 Still, as you young ones grow older, Jehovah wants you to “prove to yourselves the good and acceptable and perfect will of God,” just as Timothy did. (Rom. 12:2) If you do that, you will share in congregation activities, not because your parents want you to, but because you want to do God’s will. If you serve Jehovah with a willing spirit, it will please him. (Ps. 110:3) How, then, can you demonstrate that you want to strengthen your desire to listen to Jehovah and to follow his direction? We will consider three important ways in which you can do so. They center on study, prayer, and conduct. Let us examine these one at a time.
Know Jehovah as a Person
7. How did Jesus set an example as a student of the Scriptures, and what helped him to do so?
7 The first way in which you demonstrate that you want to deepen your desire to serve Jehovah is by daily Bible reading. You can satisfy your spiritual need and acquire precious Bible knowledge by regularly reading God’s Word. (Matt. 5:3) Jesus set the example. On one occasion when he was 12 years old, he was found by his parents in the temple, “sitting in the midst of the teachers and listening to them and questioning them.” (Luke 2:44-46) As a child, Jesus had already developed a longing for and an understanding of the Scriptures. What helped him to do so? Undoubtedly his mother, Mary, and his adoptive father, Joseph, played an important role. They were servants of God who provided Jesus with divine instruction from his infancy.—Matt. 1:18-20; Luke 2:41, 51.
8. (a) When should parents begin to inculcate love for God’s Word in their children? (b) Relate an experience that confirms the value of training children from their infancy.
8 Likewise, God-fearing parents today recognize the value of inculcating in their children’s hearts a longing for Bible truth right from the start. (Deut. 6:6-9) That is what Rubi, a Christian sister, did soon after the birth of her first son, Joseph. Each day, she read to him from My Book of Bible Stories. As he grew older, she helped him to memorize various scriptures. Did Joseph benefit from such training? Soon after learning to talk, he could relate many Bible stories in his own words. And when he was five years old, he gave his first talk in the Theocratic Ministry School.
9. Why is reading the Bible and meditating on what you read important?
9 To further your spiritual advancement, you young ones should make daily Bible reading a custom that you keep throughout your teenage years and on into adulthood. (Ps. 71:17) Why will Bible reading help you to make progress? Note what Jesus said in a prayer to his Father: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God.” (John 17:3) Indeed, as you take in more knowledge of Jehovah, you will ever more clearly see him as a real Person and deepen your love for him. (Heb. 11:27) Therefore, each time you read a portion of the Bible, use that opportunity to learn more about Jehovah. Ask yourself: ‘What does this account teach me about Jehovah as a Person? How does this Bible passage show God’s love and concern for me?’ Taking time to meditate on such questions will help you to learn how Jehovah thinks and feels and what he requires of you. (Read Proverbs 2:1-5.) Like young Timothy, you will be “persuaded to believe” what you learn from the Scriptures, and you will be moved to worship Jehovah with a willing heart.—2 Tim. 3:14.
How Prayer Deepens Your Love for Jehovah
10, 11. How does prayer help you to strengthen your desire to serve God?
10 The second way in which you can strengthen your desire to serve Jehovah wholeheartedly is by means of your prayers. At Psalm 65:2, we read: “O Hearer of prayer, even to you people of all flesh will come.” Even during the time that Israel was God’s covenant people, foreigners who came to Jehovah’s temple could approach him in prayer. (1 Ki. 8:41, 42) God is not partial. Those who observe his commandments have the assurance that he will listen to them. (Prov. 15:8) Surely, “people of all flesh” include you young ones.
11 You know that the basis of any real friendship is good communication. Likely, you enjoy sharing your thoughts, concerns, and feelings with a close friend. Similarly, by offering heartfelt prayers, you communicate with your Grand Creator. (Phil. 4:6, 7) Speak to Jehovah as if you were pouring out your heart to a loving parent or to a close friend. In fact, there is a strong link between how you pray and how you feel about Jehovah. You will notice that the stronger your friendship with Jehovah becomes, the more meaningful your prayers will be.
12. (a) Why do meaningful prayers involve more than words? (b) What will help you to come to realize that Jehovah is near to you?
12 Keep in mind, though, that a meaningful prayer involves more than words. It includes your innermost feelings. In your prayers, convey your warm love, deep respect, and full reliance on Jehovah. As you discern how Jehovah responds to your prayers, you will personally come to realize as never before that “Jehovah is near to all those calling upon him.” (Ps. 145:18) Yes, Jehovah will draw close to you, strengthening you to oppose the Devil and to make the right choices in life.—Read James 4:7, 8.
13. (a) How did friendship with God help one sister? (b) How does friendship with God help you to deal with peer pressure?
13 Consider how Cherie gained strength from having a close relationship with Jehovah. In high school, she won awards because she did well academically and excelled in sports. When she finished school, she was offered a scholarship that would enable her to pursue higher education. “The offer was tempting,” says Cherie, “and coaches and fellow students put a lot of pressure on me to accept it.” She realized, though, that pursuing further education would require her to devote most of her time to studying and preparing for sporting events—with little time left for serving Jehovah. What did Cherie do? She says, “After praying to Jehovah, I declined the scholarship and began serving as a regular pioneer.” In the meantime, she has been pioneering for five years. “I don’t have any regrets,” she says. “Knowing that I made a decision that pleases Jehovah makes me happy. Really, if you put God’s Kingdom first, all other things will be added to you.”—Matt. 6:33.
Good Conduct Reveals That You Are “Clean in Heart”
14. Why is your good conduct important in Jehovah’s eyes?
14 The third way you can demonstrate that you are serving Jehovah with a willing heart is by your conduct. Jehovah blesses youths who remain morally clean. (Read Psalm 24:3-5.) Young Samuel refused to imitate the immoral conduct of the sons of High Priest Eli. Samuel’s fine conduct did not go unnoticed. The Bible record states: “All the while the boy Samuel was growing bigger and more likable both from Jehovah’s standpoint and from that of men.”—1 Sam. 2:26.
15. What are some reasons why you maintain good conduct?
15 We live in a world filled with people who are lovers of themselves, haughty, disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal, fierce, puffed up with pride, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God—to name some of the characteristics listed by Paul. (2 Tim. 3:1-5) So it can be a real challenge for you to maintain exemplary conduct despite being surrounded by this wicked environment. However, each time you do what is right and refuse to share in ungodly conduct, you prove that you are on Jehovah’s side of the issue of universal sovereignty. (Job 2:3, 4) You also have the satisfaction of knowing that you are responding to Jehovah’s warm appeal: “Be wise, my son, and make my heart rejoice, that I may make a reply to him that is taunting me.” (Prov. 27:11) Moreover, knowing that you have Jehovah’s approval will strengthen you in your desire to serve him.
16. How did one sister make Jehovah’s heart rejoice?
16 As a teenager, a Christian sister named Carol stuck to Bible principles while she attended school, and her good conduct was noticed. What happened? Carol faced ridicule from her classmates because her Bible-trained conscience would not allow her to share in holiday celebrations and patriotic ceremonies. On those occasions, she at times had the opportunity to explain her beliefs to others. Many years later, Carol received a card from a former classmate, who wrote: “I have always hoped to contact you and to thank you. Your good conduct and example as a Christian youth, along with the courageous stand you took regarding holidays, did not go unnoticed. You were my first contact with Jehovah’s Witnesses.” Carol’s example had left such a deep impression that her classmate had later begun to study the Bible. She wrote in her card to Carol that she had been a baptized Witness for over 40 years! Like Carol, you young ones today who courageously stick to Bible principles may motivate honesthearted individuals to get to know Jehovah.
Young Ones Praising Jehovah
17, 18. (a) How do you feel about the young ones in your congregation? (b) What future awaits God-fearing youths?
17 All of us in Jehovah’s worldwide organization are thrilled to see the many thousands of zealous young ones who are sharing in true worship! These youths strengthen their desire to worship Jehovah by daily Bible reading, by praying, and by conducting themselves in harmony with God’s will. Such exemplary youths are a source of refreshment to their parents and to all of Jehovah’s people.—Prov. 23:24, 25.
18 In the future, faithful young people will be counted among those who will survive into God’s promised new world. (Rev. 7:9, 14) There, they will experience untold blessings as they continue to grow in appreciation for Jehovah, and they will be able to praise him to time indefinite.—Ps. 148:12, 13.
Can You Explain?
• How can young people share in true worship today?
• For you to benefit from Bible reading, why is meditation essential?
• How does prayer help you to draw close to Jehovah?
• What is accomplished by a Christian’s good conduct?
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Is daily Bible reading your custom?