Responsibility To Tomorrow
If you have concern for the future and are interested in the young and if you want to know the solution to the ills of mankind, you will be interested in this lesson. We ask and answer four overriding and all important questions pertaining to the responsibility we have right now to the tomorrow that may yet be. “He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good" (Proverbs 16:20). Sometimes we emphasize the present to the neglect of the future and are not wise. But how could we overemphasize the importance of the young, the future of the church, the molding of lives and the saving of souls? What is our responsibility to that period of time which we call the future?
First, we ask, wherein lies the hope for the future? We suggest it lies in the proper training of the young. "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it”(Proverbs 22:6). One of the themes of the faith of Christ is that of hope. 1 Tim 1:1 tells us that the Lord Jesus Christ is our hope. Without God there is no hope (Ephesians 1:18), but with God there is hope. That longest of all of the Psalms, and a great chapter giving emphasis on the Word of God, shows where the inspired Psalmist placed his hope. “I hope in thy word” (Psalm 119:49,81,114). What is the hope for the future of mankind? Wherein lies the answer to the problems he faces? It is training the young to follow the Christ of whom we read in the Word of God. Yes, we quickly answer that the hope of all is in the Lord. But how strongly do we really believe it?
Nobody can deny that the world has momentous problems such as war or peace, fear or security, life or death, sin or wickedness, good or evil. These things are manifested in racial, economic, social, political, and moral tensions, nationally and internationally. Can we really look to armies and navies, the ability to manufacture material goods, scientific knowledge and discoveries? Can we even look to churches? So many religious beliefs have brought people to the morbid state of paganism, superstition, Romanism, communism, modernism, heathenism. These things have been able to overpower the minds and lives of millions even in the land of Bibles. Has there ever been a time when these things have proved adequate? No, never in man’s history.
Only One to Whom We Can Go
In the long ago, when some were turning away from Christ, He asked His disciples if they would also go away. “Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life" (John 6:68). The hope of the world lies in the Son of God. “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but by me.” (John 14:6). Paul urged, “Be not moved away from the hope of the gospel” (Col. 1:23). Our hope lies in the church, inasmuch as it is the work of the church to proclaim and uphold this truth. “The church is the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). Since the church is composed of saved people, those like me and you who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ and are members of His body (1 Cor. 12:27), does it not sober you to think that we are the hope for the future? Yes, although this may sound on the surface to be making ourselves more important to the world than we are, it is true. But it is glaringly apparent that we have little impact on the world.
The Church and Tomorrow
This leads us to a related question: How is it that the church is the hope for tomorrow? Why do we say the church is the hope? It is growing more and more apparent among all the inhabitants of our earth that people must learn to live together or die and be destroyed together. Man’s genius has invented many things and discovered many ways of bringing people “closer” together. We must learn to get along with each other. But among man’s amazing discoveries are ways and means of wiping out the real progress of ages past by weapons and destructive powers that would destroy civilization if turned loose This is not an overstatement nor idle words. Not only have men produced weapons but also philosophies and ideologies that would destroy the dignity of mankind and reduce him to nothing more than a highly evolved and powerfully destructive animal. While we must look as much as we can to the future with confidence, we also must be realistic.
Man has devised all manner of treaties, pacts, agreements, alliances, world federations and balances of power which have proven to have some usefulness to prevent the takeover of the world by savage elements. But none of these things are successful because they are based on the wisdom and merit of humans. Many have not adopted nor lived up to the agreements put forth. Only when the minds and hearts of men are changed can there be what humanity needs. Only Christianity is the perfect peace plan. This is because this is the faith that came from God our Creator that was designed and delivered to the entire race. He knows what is best for His creatures. It is the plan that cleanses man from his sinfulness and makes them brethren on the basis of love one for the other in the same Savior.
The Young Must Be Trained
When we realize how dependent the future is on the training of the young to follow the Christ that is revealed in the Scriptures and that it is the work of the church to proclaim that very Christ, it behooves us to ask what will be the church of tomorrow? What will be its composition? The answer is that it will still be composed of a redeemed and peculiar people. It will be composed by the same people that may become the owners of businesses, heads of governments and members of homes. In but a few short years the world will be overtaken by another generation. Those who will be making decisions regarding our world are now mere children, eager to learn, subject to training and impressionable. Those who lead now were children only a short while ago. Each one could been have taught Christ as easily as they have been taught greed, power, hate, war, godlessness, etc. History could have been different and far better. But the past is gone never to be changed. But what of tomorrow? Tomorrow’s people can still be taught and impressed with good, with Christ, with His church. History can be made better through the proper guidance of the young today. The Lord’s church can have an impact on the future generations.
Some have a very pessimistic attitude toward the youth of today. This kind of attitude has probably always existed. We do not minimize the evil ways so profound among the young of our time. We are told that ninety-five per cent of the college age people of our nation never read the Bible. This is not good. The crimes of the nation are mostly committed by the young. The rampaging immorality is among youth, being promoted and exploited by those who are older. But we must remember that the youth of today is just about what the adults of today have taught them and led them to be. The responsibility lies upon the older generation to teach and discipline and instruct the young as well as the younger generation having the duty to respond to that training. It is to the benefit of the young to give heed to the things they are taught because it is their world that shall be determined by these things as well as our own.
What Training Includes
To train means to lead; not just to drive. It means to direct the growth, not allowing the youth to set the course and determine each step. God gave young people parents for a purpose, but many parents have forsaken their duties, failed to guide the development of their young and we are reaping the hell and havoc that neglect produces. We have the duty before God and man to instruct, discipline, educate and set the right example before the young. We believe the Scripture when it teaches that a rightly trained young person, when he lives according to his training, will not depart from those righteous ways when he grows older.
We often visit the hospitals to see the newborn. As we look upon that little creature in the nursery bed we are made to wonder, “What kind of person will that baby grow to be? What kind of life will he or she lead? Are we looking upon a future drunkard, a murderer, an infidel, a dope addict, a parasite on society, a soul that will be lost because of its sins? What kind of influence will that person have on those near him? Could this be a world leader? Are we looking at one whose life will contribute to the improvement and service of mankind? Will this baby be a Christian? Will he, or she, have the respect for morality, property, and others?” All this depends largely upon what kind of training that baby will receive. It depends upon those who have the responsibility to train that child and steer his, or her, upbringing.
Someone wrote, “The lesson of Samuel and his sons is a clear demonstration of the fact that virtue is not acquired by inheritance. Samuel’s sons did not possess the character of the father. Goodness is no more hereditary than evil. Children neither inherit the good or the bad characters of their parents. Principles of character are instilled through teaching only.”
Christian principles of character are taught. We emphasize so much secular education and there is room for this emphasis. Every child is required to go to school. Millions are spent each year in this endeavor of educating. There is constant planning, improving of facilities, expanding buildings, time, thought, money, work, training; an on-going process. But what are they learning? What is being taught? We so often have left out, ruled out and neglected the most important matters. The spiritual education of the young is far more important than any other education. Moral training is what keeps humans from behaving like wild beasts. Secular education, at best, can only help the young provide a place for himself in this life in the temporal and material world that will be gone after a short while. One can have all that and never be what he ought and can be. Spiritual training is what makes life livable. Without it we live in a jungle of vile evil. Only by rearing the people of the future in the nurture and admonition of the Lord can there be meaning and purpose for life and for eternity. Without spirituality life has no reason for existence. Yet, this side of training is what goes wanting.
Our fourth question then naturally follows: Where does the responsibility lie for the spiritual training of young people? “Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath but bring them up in the nurture and the admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Parents, the home is where it must begin and continue through the formative years of the child. When the home is not as it ought to be, when this training is neglected and many times left out altogether, when the home is shattered by hate, strife, immorality, godlessness, separation and divorce, what can be expected except young people who go the way of hell rather than the way of God? There is no way to overemphasize the duty of the home in the proper training of the young. When the home fails, you have only produced more problem makers and sordid lives.
The church has the duty to teach the young as well as all in the world. These two divine institutions, the home and the church, both coming from the mind of God, must and should work harmoniously and consistently in presenting by word and deed the way that youth should go.
Our young need to learn the Bible stories, to be encouraged to study the Bible, to be shown why there must be respect for God, His Word, His church. Families need to pray together, obey God together, live God’s way together. If we would only train our young so much agony and human misery could be avoided and prevented. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It is much better to build a boy than mend a man. A wise home and church will be very attentive to the training of the youth. It will not be the emphasis of the church to provide the recreation, entertainment and secular education for the young, but the spiritual and moral guidance and teaching. This is God’s plan. The affairs of the young must be guided primarily from the home. The duty rests squarely on the shoulders of parents, teachers, preachers, elders, and deacons. The church’s attitude toward the young is all important. They will not care what you think until they think you care. Our efforts to guide the youth to Christ should occupy the place of primacy in dealing with the oncoming generation.
Shall we allow the stumbling blocks of ignorance of God’s will continue to hinder the path of our precious children? Shall we spare what is required of ourselves, our means, our time, energies and thoughts, to give them that which is more needful than all other things combined; namely, a saving faith in God and the divine guidance for their lives?
I can think of nothing more consuming of my thoughts, and embraced in my prayers, than that my children walked before God acceptable to Him. If this is accomplished every failure will pale into insignificance and every other success will be minor. This is what matters. May it be so!
1. Wherein lies the hope of the future?
2. Who is the only One to Whom we can go?
3. How is it that the church holds the future?
4. Discuss: The young are the church of tomorrow.
5. Where lies the responsibility for training the young?
6. Name some of the matters that training includes.