Without any intent to misrepresent young people, there are two words that I suggest describe so many young people today. These words are underestimated and unprepared. Neither convey derision toward youth. One refers to an error that many of those of us who are older make regarding young people, and the other refers to something often lacking in young people. It is a shortcoming often found among older people as well.
First Samuel 17:38 reads, “And David said to Saul, Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock.” This statement was made by David during the time when Goliath was challenging Israel. David had come to the camp with supplies for his brothers, but he heard and saw the defiant giant. Even though nobody was willing to accept Goliath’s challenge, David offered himself to fight him. Saul's reaction was, “Thou are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him for thou art but a youth.” On the basis of age, Saul would have denied David the opportunity to defend Israel and save God’s people. Saul considered David unprepared for such a fight. Because David was young, Saul underestimated him.
Possibly Saul’s evaluation of David would have been correct with many of the youths of Israel. But David was different. How was he different? David had faith in God and put his trust in him. He had been taught and had learned to walk in the paths of righteousness rather than to lean on his own wisdom, power, ability and talent. He leaned on God. We know the outcome of the conflict between David and Goliath.
What of our young people? Do we discount them and disqualify them too quickly, simply because they are young? Have we underestimated them? Are they really as unprepared as we think? If they are, are we not the ones responsible for their preparation? There is a way for them to be prepared for the life they must live and it lies to a great extent with those of us to whom their care has been entrusted to assist in that preparation.
While some youths would not admit it, few of them realize how dependent they are on the older generation. Often older people are not as aware as they ought how dependent youth is on the aged. It is obvious that many young people are not prepared to serve God and are not being prepared. Someone has said, "Never has one generation of youths been told so much that they are so superior, yet, at the same time are they so ill-equipped to really meet life and live it successfully as God would have them to live.” Another has said, “Seldom does one see a generation that considers itself to know so much and be so wise, yet, manifest such ignorance of things that really matter, and behave so foolishly.” Whether these estimates are valid, we do not wish to argue. Possibly there may be some overstatement, but probably much truth lies in there. This new generation needs to be prepared for life before God. If the young are underestimated and unprepared surely a great portion of the blame rests on those who have gone before them. Our lesson will center itself on the responsibility of the older generation.
We see all around such evidence of moral and spiritual decay in the rock and roll culture with drugs, unwed mothers, pornography, drunkenness and every sort of anti-social behavior. These may be extremes and do not represent all youth, to be sure. But there is a real concern for the less extreme because so many youths are without moral standards, wandering about without spiritual guidance and restraint that is essential to the building of noble character. This is not because there is no standard but because the standard is ignored. We have seen several decades of degenerates being promoted on a large scale and the fruits are being witnessed everywhere. What is sown must be reaped, and the harvest is becoming of such concern because the very fibre of the nation seems to be unraveling. Young people, though bearing some of the fault for this condition, have been let down by many of the older generation.
They have been let down at home. Many have houses, but not good homes. Parental delinquency breeds juvenile delinquency. Neither money, social standing, nor any such thing is an adequate substitute for a good home that is governed by spiritual guidance that emphasizes spiritual qualities. There is lack of discipline with many parents not knowing where their children are or what they are doing. Youths are granted liberties usually extended only to adults, and the young are proving themselves incapable of handling these freedoms because they have neither matured nor are they instructed how to choose between right and wrong.
American youth has been butchered by divorce, unwed parents, parental neglect and selfishness of parents who seek their own welfare without regard to the effect on children. American homes have let down American youth in so many instances. But we pass forward.
The schools have not been what they should be. Secularism and materialism has captured the educational scene on every level with few exceptions. The motive for learning is money, power, self, not service. Education has been separated from the guidance of God and morality to the point we have vast hordes of educated animals.
There is probably no one place where the faith of Christ has been under attack for several decades more than in the public and private school systems of this nation. Humanism is the guidepost. That many are becoming aware of the deficiencies of the school systems is one hopeful sign for future improvement. But too much emphasis is on better buildings, equipment and cirrocumuli alongside a negative attitude toward proper behavior.
Failure of the Churches
Youths have been let down by churches. Why are so many young people anti-religious? It is partly because religion has shown so little influence in the lives of older people. It is because Christianity has been so polluted with human doctrines and hypocrisy that the true faith is only discovered with great difficulty. Churches have become so secular, political, recreational, social and economical that they have abandoned the role of emphasizing God, His Word, salvation and the need of being cleansed of sin.
Young people are let down when they are not taught and shown the proper attitude toward honest labor. We have built a welfare state where many expect hand-outs and think it is their right to get them and feeling cheated if they do not receive them. To rear a person to think the world owes him a living is to maim him for life. So many want to do as little as possible, having no aspiration anything higher than “getting by,” or getting it easily. Honesty and doing a good job are not the goals of enough youths. As one has said, “The first thing many young people want to know about a job is the pay, how much vacation, and when can they retire, and with how much.” Too many never think about what service they can render in life, or being a benefit in their work others, even earning so they can help. Slothfulness and slackness has been the calling of many. This parasitic attitude has eaten away at the core of honest endeavor. The nation now crawls with leeches who contribute nothing, but seek to siphon away the life blood of others who work.
Many youths have been misled to think that a “high standard of living" is the ultimate goal of life and success. Who has learned that enough is as bountiful as an abundance? People feel cheated if they do not have all they want. They seem to think that in spite of the words of Jesus that man does live by bread alone. Some, like the rich fool of Luke twelve, think all is well because they do have plenty. They waste themselves and their resources like the prodigal of Luke fifteen.
But has the older generation given them the right example to follow? The youths do not own and operate the television stations, instigate the programs, control the radios, movies and newspapers. Who owns and operates the bar rooms, taverns, liquor stores and pornography magazines? Who is really responsible for the teaching that results in the flood of violence, vulgarity, immorality, murder and death so commonplace in our society? Can that be blamed on the youth? Or are the young people more often the dupes which are the victims of the ploys of older ones who seek money anyway they can get it? For money, American adults have sponsored the vilest corruption the world has known and exploited the youth in getting it.
But this gives us sufficient scenes of our present reality. Reviewing shortcomings alone is of little value unless we seek and follow some constructive steps to make our young people modern-day David’s, capable of facing modern-day Goliath’s.
Every Christian should sense his own duty in this matter. Churches should attack the problem with vigor and determination. Parents must first make their homes Christian, with respect for the Bible, prayer and the God-given foundations upon which a young boy and girl can build the right kind of life. Sincerity, love, insistence on obedience, teaching and showing the way of right can accomplish the good our young people must hear and see.
How to turn the school’s negative influence around is hard to prescribe because so much of the power of the educational systems lies in the hands of those who have little to no respect for God and His Word. The hypocrisy rampant in schools operated by those who say they are Christians is a gigantic barrier to good education. Nelson Bell wrote, “Where godless teachers scoff at the Christian faith, or in other ways try to undermine religion, they should be dismissed for contributing to the delinquency of minors. This should include teachers and all others connected with education.” With this thought we would concur, but our diversified society makes this positive and constructive move difficult to achieve. Everybody seemingly has their “right” to curse God, but those who choose to serve Him are cut down.
Many have sought schools operated by men and women of faith instead of what the state offers. This has historically been beneficial, but often today even some of these schools are contaminated with professors and leaders who have drunk deeply from the same foul waters as others and delight in passing along the doctrine that the “old foggy” past must be uprooted and replaced with the “knowledge” of the modern, often skeptical, “scholar.” How many years it will take before people get their eyes open and see the fruit being borne cannot be predicted! But may God hasten the day!
You may have noticed a lack
of Scriptures thus far in the lesson. We have been observing the
situation, as it exists. But the one, primary and essential passage
relevant to this discussion is Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child
in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from
Training is the key to preparing. The home is the basic unit of society and the first training ground. Until the homes have more regard for God’s intent for the home we can only expect the situation to continue or grow worse.
The church is to be the “pillar and ground of the truth.” Unless the church maintains a strong stance for the truth and against error it renders itself useless for mankind. Why should the church be little more than an echo of the sinful, materialistic and pleasure-seeking world?
Who can possibly know what “giant” stands before our young’? Changes occur so rapidly and the world is unstable. Dare we send our children into it unprepared and easy prey for the forces of the devil? We do not want to make the mistake of Saul and declare are them unfit simply because they are young. But we must make sure they are prepared. Our task is before us and our duty is clear. Satan is our foe and God is our helper and strength. Our failure is the doom of our own flesh and blood, but our victory will result in the salvation of us all.
1. Are there tasks that the young can perform? Name some.
2. Are their limitations upon them while still in their youth?
3. What is a true “high standard of living?”
4. What “giants” do you see standing in the paths of our young?