How Shall the Young Secure Their Hearts?
We confront many questions, but few more serious than the one of this lesson. Some questions deal with trivial things and can be easily answered and even if answered incorrectly, the matter is not overly serious. Other questions are more difficult and far-reaching. The answers are not only of temporal concern, but eternal consequence. Such is the question regarding the young.
It is not sufficient to find the answer for just one generation, but something that will be applicable for every generation of youth. We ought not think that the answer varies from one generation to the next, but we must be impressed that every generation must have God’s answer.
Why is this such an important matter? To secure means to make confident, free from doubt and fear, to provide comfort and certainty so there can be stability. This is so needful because the devil and all of his forces and agents are busy trying to destroy the souls of the young. If they cannot be secured, they can be destroyed. If those who can assist the young to secure their hearts do not do it, Satan shall see to it that they shall be overcome. When the young person is your child you can see the seriousness of it all the more.
There are those who are intent on destroying faith in God and the Bible as His Word. They plant doubt and constantly sow seeds of confusion in order to uproot confidence. Satan wishes to undermine the foundation for life that God prescribes in order to prevent the person from fulfilling his mission and purpose in life. The forces of evil seek the instability and uncertainty in the hearts of people because that kind of heart is ripe for the sowing of the seeds of temptation that produces sin.
The Right Foundation
Neither the old or the young can build on a foundation of sand and withstand the inevitable challenges that come in life. They will become “like a wave of the sea, driven with the wind and tossed” (James 1:6). Paul urged his brethren to strive for perfection and told them why, “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (Ephesians 4:14). Paul sent Timothy to Thessalonica to work among the brethren “to establish you, and comfort you concerning your faith, that no man should be moved by these afflictions” (First Thessalonians 3:2,3). The need of stability is repeated over and over.
We are taught to be secure and steadfast in order to receive the eternal blessings of God. First Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” In a world overrun with confusion, threats, violence, hate and skepticism, where material things of life are proved to be unstable and temporary, with pressures to do evil pounding upon us on every turn, young people need an anchor for the soul that is sure and steadfast, or else they will perish with the wickedness of the world. Sin destroys, and the young must be equipped to guard against it, avoid it, prevent it, and if overcome by it, seek forgiveness that God has provided. This is a most crucial matter and we must come to grips with it.
A Secure Heart
The heart of the youth must be made secure. No person, young or old, is going to continue to do wrong, but will seek that which is right, when from within comes the determination to do right. In the early years of life parents are able to restrict, restrain and control the child from much evil. This they ought to do. But the time soon comes that parental restraint is not sufficient because the child must gradually assume responsibility for his own actions. He will soon be outside the watchful eye of parents. He must do right because he knows to do right and wants to do right. A person must learn to discipline himself. Inasmuch as behavior stems from the heart, when the heart is made secure, and is on guard against sin, then the life is secure. The securing of the heart does not just happen, however. There is no magic formula and it cannot be done by mere wishful thinking and hoping. Nor will it likely to be done by the young person left to stand totally for himself. It takes the combined effort of parent and child working together. Even though it begins entirely with the parents, gradually, but certainly, it will continue as the child learns to control himself.
We want to suggest four efforts by which the heart of the young can be made secure. First, the parent must provide guidance. Fathers and mothers must set the standards by word and example. "Train up a child in the way he should go...” is directed primarily toward parents (Proverbs 22:6). “Fathers provoke not your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). “He that spareth his rod, hateth his son, but he that loveth him chasteneth him be times” (Proverbs 13:24). The level and content of guidance to be given the child is determined from the Word of God.
By proper instruction, showing the good, restraining the evil, with love, consideration, provision, discipline, and chastisement, the older is to guide the younger. By example, which is more powerful than words, the child can formulate his values and his concept of right and wrong as well as his duties and privileges of life. When word and example are lacking, or misdirected, the child’s heart is not likely to ever be secure regarding that which is most important to him. The devil will move in and lead that precious youth into a life that eventually leads him to hell.
Second, there comes the time when the child must assume more and more responsibility for his own life. He must do his own study (Second Timothy 2:15), and not be content to live according to a borrowed faith, a faith accepted just because somebody told him what to believe. When a young person has convictions that are true to God’s Word his convictions will be like those of his parents, provided their convictions are true to God’s Word. This idea that the young must necessarily have a different view from his foreparents is fallacious. But one must know the truth because he knows the truth from the source of truth.
There are many things others can do for another. There are things we can help each other to do. But there are some things each one must do for himself. Young people must learn the truth of the Bible, give heed to the revelation therein, exert their own effort to know and do the will of God. As they gradually assume greater freedom and independence from parents, a mark of real maturity is that they accept this responsibility with seriousness. The combination of parental guidance and the acceptance by the youth of his own responsibility will contribute to securing the heart of the young.
A third area where it takes combined effort of parent and child cooperation is in the associations of the young. Many young people are led into evil ways by the influence of their peers. Too often, not having reached sufficient maturity to make up their own minds properly and follow the right ways, for fear of being excluded, they will follow the crowd, going places, doing things, saying things that they think will make them acceptable by their associates, but are damaging to their spiritual welfare.
In view of this reality, it is startling to see how indifferent some parents are in what they allow their children to do in cultivating friends and associates. Little wonder that some young people seek the world before they seek the Lord. All of their friends act that way. We are so inclined to blame the faults of our children on their friends, but have we given proper consideration of our own permissiveness relating to whom they have as friends? It is essential that people develop the right kind of friends.
First Corinthians 15:33, “Be not deceived; evil companionships corrupt good morals” (ASV). Proverbs 13:20, “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise; but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” Proverbs 28:7, “He that is a companion of riotous men shameth his father.” In the song where we admonish each other to “yield not to temptation,” we sing a phrase, “shun evil companions.” We sing, “Take time to be holy,” and urge one another to “make friends of God’s children.” The kind of people whose close association we cultivate will have an influence on us. For this reason parents and youth need to be very cautious in the selection of friends. There is value in situations where Christian association can be nurtured. Friends can help or hinder one in his Christian life.
Fourth, our young must be given opportunity to apply Christianity in their lives now. They should be encouraged to abstain from the evil, but they must be encouraged to do the positive good that is expected of a child of God. Sometimes people speak of the young as the church of tomorrow. Many young people are already a part of the church of today. They must be taught to exercise their sense of right and wrong as they have learned from Scripture. Decisions must be made by them to the extent they are capable. The ability to discern between right and wrong is gradually developed with growth like every other part of Christianity. Learning to serve, to give of oneself for others, to be included in the work and worship of the body, are things that must be provided for the young. They will not likely push themselves in such things, but may well have to be pushed. But it is the duty of the older to see that they have this opportunity. Only then can they grow to be like Jesus who went about doing as well as saying good.
The way of youth often is very frustrating to both young and older. This has been true with every generation, and it will continue to be true. But God, through His Word, has revealed to us how the young must secure their hearts, and how it can be accomplished. When there is the right combination of proper parental oversight, with the youths gradually assuming their place and duty, the church teaching and encouraging everyone in the way they should walk, the young will grow strong in the Lord and be able to resist the devil who would harm them, now and forever.