“Who of you wanting to build a tower does not first sit down and calculate the expense to see if he has enough to complete it?”—LUKE 14:28.
This article and the following one are written for young people who want to get baptized
1, 2. (a) What gives God’s people joy today? (b) How can Christian parents and elders help young ones to understand the meaning of baptism?
“I HAVE known you since you were born,” said an elder to 12-year-old Christopher, “and I’m happy to hear that you want to get baptized. I would like to ask you, ‘Why do you want to take that step?’” That elder had good reasons for asking that question. It gives us much joy to see thousands of young people get baptized every year. (Ecclesiastes 12:1) But Christian parents and elders in the congregation want to make sure that young ones make their own decision and understand what it means to get baptized.
2 In the Bible, we learn that dedication and baptism are the start of a new life for a Christian. This new life will bring many blessings from Jehovah but also opposition from Satan. (Proverbs 10:22; 1 Peter 5:8) That is why Christian parents must take time to teach their children what it really means to be a disciple of Christ. When young ones do not have Christian parents, elders in the congregation will lovingly help them to understand what it means to be dedicated and baptized. (Read Luke 14:27-30.) Just as it takes preparation to complete a building project, young ones must prepare before they get baptized so that they can serve Jehovah faithfully “to the end.” (Matthew 24:13) What will help young ones to be determined to serve Jehovah forever? Let us see.
3 Are you a young person who wants to get baptized? If so, that is an excellent goal! It is a great honor to be baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. It is also something a Christian must do, and it is a vital step for those who will be saved during the great tribulation. (Matthew 28:19, 20; 1 Peter 3:21) When you get baptized, you show that you have promised to serve Jehovah forever. You really want to keep that promise, so the following questions will help you to see if you are ready for baptism: (1) Am I mature enough to make the decision? (2) Do I have a personal desire to do so? (3) Do I understand what it means to be dedicated to Jehovah? Let us discuss those questions.
WHEN YOU ARE MATURE ENOUGH
4, 5. (a) Why is baptism not for older people only? (b) What does it mean for a Christian to be mature?
4 The Bible does not say that only those who are older or who have reached a specific age can get baptized. We read at Proverbs 20:11: “Even a child is known by his actions, whether his behavior is pure and right.” So even a child can understand what it means to do what is right and to be dedicated to his Creator. Thus, baptism is an important and appropriate step for a young person who has proved to be mature and has made a dedication to Jehovah.—Proverbs 20:7.
5 What does it mean to be mature? Maturity does not always refer to a person’s age or physical growth. The Bible says that mature people have trained their “powers of discernment” to know the difference between right and wrong. (Hebrews 5:14) A mature person knows what is right and has decided in his heart to do it. So he cannot easily be influenced to do what is wrong. And he does not always need someone else to tell him to do what is right. It is reasonable to expect that a young person who gets baptized will do what is right even when his parents or other adults are not around.—Compare Philippians 2:12.
6, 7. (a) Describe the challenges Daniel had when he was in Babylon. (b) How did Daniel prove to be mature?
6 Can a young person really show that type of maturity? Consider the example of Daniel. He may have been a teenager when he was taken from his parents and sent to Babylon. Suddenly, Daniel lived among people who did not obey God’s commands. But let us look at Daniel’s situation a little closer. He was treated as someone special in Babylon. He was one of a few young people who were carefully chosen to serve the king. (Daniel 1:3-5, 13) It seems that Daniel had a better position in Babylon than he would ever have had in Israel.
7 So how did young Daniel react? Did he allow the people of Babylon to change him or weaken his faith? Not at all! The Bible says that while in Babylon, Daniel decided “in his heart that he would not defile himself,” that he would stay away from anything connected to false worship. (Daniel 1:8) That showed real maturity!
8. What can you learn from Daniel’s example?
8 What can you learn from Daniel’s example? A mature young person will be firm in his beliefs, even in difficult situations. He will not be like a chameleon, the lizard that changes color depending on its environment. He does not act like a friend of God at the Kingdom Hall but a friend of the world at school. Rather, he will stay faithful even when he is tested.—Read Ephesians 4:14, 15.
A mature young person will be firm in his beliefs, even in difficult situations
9, 10. (a) How might a young person benefit from thinking about how he or she has reacted to recent tests of faith? (b) What does baptism mean?
9 Of course, no one is perfect. Young people as well as adults sometimes make mistakes. (Ecclesiastes 7:20) But if you want to get baptized, it would be wise to find out how determined you are to obey Jehovah’s commands. Ask yourself, ‘Have I obeyed Jehovah over a period of time?’ Think about how you reacted the last time your faith was tested. Were you able to decide what the right thing to do was? Like Daniel, has someone encouraged you to use your talents in Satan’s world? When something like this is tempting for you, are you able to understand what Jehovah’s will is?—Ephesians 5:17.
10 Why is it important to know the answers to those personal questions? Because they will help you to see how serious baptism really is. Baptism shows others that you have made an important promise to Jehovah. You promise that you will love him and serve him forever with your whole heart. (Mark 12:30) Everyone who gets baptized should be determined to keep his promise to Jehovah.—Read Ecclesiastes 5:4, 5.
IS IT YOUR PERSONAL DESIRE?
11, 12. (a) A person who is thinking about getting baptized needs to be sure of what? (b) What will help you to keep the right view of Jehovah’s arrangement of baptism?
11 The Bible says that all of Jehovah’s people, even young ones, would serve him “willingly.” (Psalm 110:3) So a person who wants to get baptized needs to be sure that this is his or her personal desire. That may require you to examine your desire carefully, especially if you were raised in the truth.
12 While growing up, you have probably seen many people get baptized, perhaps even some of your friends and your siblings. But be careful that you do not begin to feel that you must get baptized just because you have reached a certain age or because everyone else is getting baptized. How can you make sure that you see baptism the way Jehovah does? Take time to think about why baptism is so important. You will find many good reasons in this article and in the next.
13. How can you tell whether the decision to get baptized comes from your heart?
13 One way you can tell whether the decision to get baptized comes from your heart is to examine your prayers. How often do you pray to Jehovah? How specific are your prayers? The answers to those questions may show how close your relationship with Jehovah is. (Psalm 25:4) Many times Jehovah provides the answers to our prayers in the Bible. So another way you can tell if you really want to get closer to Jehovah and serve him from your heart is to examine your study schedule. (Joshua 1:8) Ask yourself: ‘How regular is my personal study of the Bible? Do I willingly participate in our family worship?’ The answers to those questions will help you to see whether your decision to get baptized is your personal desire.
THE MEANING OF DEDICATION
14. Describe the difference between dedication and baptism.
14 Some young ones may not truly know the difference between dedication and baptism. Some may say that they have already dedicated their life to Jehovah but are not ready to get baptized. But is that really possible? A dedication is a prayer telling Jehovah that you promise to serve him forever. When you get baptized, you show others that you have already made a dedication to Jehovah. So before you get baptized, you need to understand what it means to be dedicated to God.
15. What does dedication mean?
15 When you dedicate your life to Jehovah, you tell him that you now belong to him. You promise that serving him will be the most important thing in your life. (Read Matthew 16:24.) Such a promise to God is very serious! (Matthew 5:33) So how do you show that you know that you do not belong to yourself anymore but that you now belong to Jehovah?—Romans 14:8.
16, 17. (a) Illustrate what it means to disown yourself. (b) What is a person who makes a dedication really saying?
16 Let us consider an example. Imagine that a friend gives you a car as a gift. He hands you the title and says: “The car is yours.” But then your friend says: “I will keep the keys. And I will be the one who drives the car, not you.” How would you feel about this gift? How would you feel about your friend who gave you the car?
17 When someone dedicates his life to Jehovah, he tells God: “I am giving you my life. I belong to you.” Jehovah has the right to expect that person to keep his promise. But what if that person begins to disobey Jehovah by secretly dating someone who does not serve God? Or what if that person accepts a job that limits the time he can spend in the ministry or that causes him to miss congregation meetings often? Then that person would not be keeping his promise to Jehovah. It would be like keeping the keys to the car. When we dedicate our life to Jehovah, we say to him, “My life belongs to you, not me.” So we will always do what Jehovah wants even when it is not what we personally want to do. Let us imitate Jesus, who said: “I have come down from heaven to do, not my own will, but the will of him who sent me.”—John 6:38.
Baptism is a serious decision and a great privilege
18, 19. (a) How do the expressions of Rose and Christopher illustrate that being baptized is a privilege that leads to blessings? (b) How do you feel about the privilege of baptism?
18 Clearly, baptism is a serious decision. It is a great privilege to be dedicated to Jehovah and to be baptized. Young ones who love Jehovah and who understand what dedication means do not hesitate to dedicate their lives to God and get baptized. They do not regret their decision. A baptized teenager named Rose says: “I love Jehovah, and I couldn’t be happier doing anything but serving him. I have never been more sure about anything in my life than my decision to get baptized.”
19 And what about Christopher, mentioned at the beginning of this article? How does he feel about his decision to get baptized when he was 12 years old? He says that he is very happy that he made such a decision. He began serving as a regular pioneer when he was 17 years old and became a ministerial servant at 18. Today he is serving at Bethel. He says: “Baptism was the right decision. My life is filled with satisfying work for Jehovah and his organization.” If you want to get baptized, how can you prepare for it? The next article will answer that question.