Summary: Our society is pressuring our young people to bow to the idol of tolerance. How do we encourage them to set the example in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity? Consider these thoughts from our Family Minister, Scott Jewell.
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Jeff just concluded a series about contending the faith and told me that I could preach on whatever I’d like. As I was considering options for what to preach on a Youth Sunday, I found that today’s text seemed to fit right in with this series, so despite Jeff telling us last Sunday was the last time he’d remind us we don’t need to apologize for our faith yet God wants us to take a stand, today’s my first opportunity to remind you of the same. Jeff has shared a number of areas in which we are to stand. Today, I’d like to share one more aspect- we need to pass our faith on to the next generation.
Our students face a lot of pressure today. Confusion over identity is prevalent- who should I like? Who was I even made to be? Society has developed a mindset I call the “Intolerant tolerance.” We need to make sure everyone feels included and if you disagree, you need to sit down and shut up or we’re going to paste you with so many labels you’ll wish you had never spoken in the first place.
How do we address this and raise our youth to not only be the church of tomorrow but also leaders today? Paul gives instructions to Timothy filled with ways in which to conduct oneself to be considered Christ’s servant. As we look at these five aspects of life found in verse 12, I want our youth to take note of the expectations while our adults consider how to be encouragers to our youth. You can decide for yourself which of the groups you belong.
The first aspect of life that Paul addresses is speech. Our words mean something. You’ve heard the expression, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” I think the expression was meant to help us deny the hurt words caused. Those broken bones will heal, but words can and do scar for life.
We’re told in 1 Samuel 3 how Hannah had given Samuel to serve at the temple under Eli at a very young age. One night, God called Samuel and he ran to Eli and woke him up to find out what he needed. Eli assured Samuel that he didn’t call for him and sent him back to bed. This happened three times before Eli realized it was God calling Samuel. He told Samuel to respond to God by telling Him, “Here I am, your servant is listening.” When Samuel did this, God revealed His plans for the demise of Eli’s family. I can only imagine how awkward Samuel felt the next morning as he began his preparations for the temple that day. I bet he tried hard to avoid Eli, but eventually Eli caught up to him and asked what the Lord told him. Samuel held nothing back. The passage concludes with these words in verse 19- “And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.”
Now, if I were Samuel and knew anything I’d say God was going to make happen, I’d be tempted to declare that I have a million dollars. But Samuel was careful to not abuse this gift. Had he abused it by cussing, or needlessly tearing people down he would have ruined his testimony and the author wouldn’t have been able to write these things about him.
We also need to watch our speech. A slip of the tongue or lashing out in anger can undue a great deal of trust that’s been built over years in a matter of a few seconds. So set the example in our speech.
The second aspect of life that Paul addresses is our conduct. We can talk the talk all we want, but do we walk the walk? Do people look at us and think, now there’s somebody who loves Jesus?
Jeff recently preached about the stands taken by Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego as their stories are told in the book of Daniel. When the king offered them rich, fatty foods, they stuck to their kosher diets. When the king commanded everyone to bow down to an idol, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stood. When the king proclaimed the only one who should be receiving prayers is himself, Daniel went to his room and prayed. Each time, they knew they were risking their lives, yet their faith in God would let them do no less. In fact, as they stood before the king, they declared, “If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18)