Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. There is a military term ‘keep your ranks’ do not leave Christians and join with unbelievers. It indicates that some Corinthians were joining with the heathen in idolatrous feasts and other practices that would lead to apostasy. The question now is, how much can we, especially youths associate with unbelievers? Some youths in Bible whose lifestyles can be emulated have been discussed below. Their names are Josiah, Timothy, Mary and Daniel.
LESSONS FROM JOSIAH AS A YOUTH
‘He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and walked in all the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or the left.’ 2 Kings 22: 2
Josiah was a King at a tender age.
Josiah became a king at a very tender age (age eight) even not a youth but a very young boy. It obeys the admonition to Timothy by Paul that he should not despise his youthful age, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith and purity.
Josiah was a God-fearing King.
The scoreboard of his reign reads, ‘He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord…’ Let’s flashback to Daniel, Shadrack, Meshach and Abednego in the book of Daniel, they did not allow anybody or any king to despise their youth. Josiah demonstrated undiluted interest in things of the Lord. He didn’t behave as Rehoboam who allowed his peers to ruin his reign (1 Kings 12: 8-14)
Josiah was to be emulated.
Reverence for God’s word goes hand with reverence for God. Before Josiah’s reign, it seems the priests have lost the Book of the law under evil kings who ruled before Josiah. The house of the Lord has been abandoned; the priests have gone to their farms. Josiah heard the content of the found Book of law; he made enquiries from a prophetess after tearing his robes (Vs 11-14). Josiah had every opportunity to be power-drunk and misused their position as a young person, but he did not do such. I think Josiah can be emulated.
LESSONS FROM TIMOTHY AS A YOUTH
‘Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight.’ 1 Timothy 1: 18
Paul introduces Timothy as an excellent person.
Apostle Paul introduces Timothy as his true son in the faith, in the letter to him (Timothy). For the apostle, Paul to call a young man his ‘son in the faith’, that young man must have passed his test excellently as Paul, being Timothy’s teacher and the instructor is about to hand the baton to him in things relating to the gospel. Timothy was also Paul’s special friend apart from being his spiritual son. Paul prayed for Timothy in the latter part of verse 2
Paul wrote an epistle to Timothy.
Paul in this epistle to Timothy warns him against false teachers of the law. Here, Paul was concerned about three trends (i) elitism, an attitude that only a few with special knowledge would be saved (ii) idealism, the teaching that matter was evil and (iii) a fascination with myths and genealogies. We should remember that (i) salvation is based on faith and not on knowledge (ii) the goodness of God’s creation and Christ’s incarnation and (iii) the sufficiency of Biblical history
Timothy has been taught the scriptures and as a youth, he must teach others the real message not minding his age. He was a young man that could be trusted with eternal truth. Timothy can be proud of His master, Paul since he had acquired the necessary knowledge he wanted, but he did not do that. You can emulate Timothy, youth!
LESSONS FROM MARY AS A YOUTH
‘I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. ‘May it be to me as you have said’ Then the angel left her. Luke 1: 38
God’s love and mercy for Mary.
Glory be to God for His unending love for the human race. After the fall of man in the garden of Eden, love constrains God to bring man back into His loving habitation. God looked for a clean vessel He would use to send His begotten Son into the world to save the human race. A virgin lady was available for divine usage. Her way of life was approved by God for the noble task. Joseph, the would-be husband accepted the message of the angel as divinely ordained.
The angel’s messages to Mary
The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favoured’ The Lord is with you. The voice greatly troubles Mary as she was pondering the content of the message. What kind of favour? (Luke 1: 28-29) verse 31 would have compounded Mary’s trouble. How can this be? Is a virgin getting pregnant? Our customs did not allow that. Are you going to kill me? The angel took time to explain in detail the type of favour and the reason for it.
Mary left herself for God to use.
Mary now surrendered herself for God’s use. I am the Lord’s servant, may it be to me as you have said (verse 38). The angel made sure that Mary accepted God’s message before leaving her. A young lady ready to be used by God in a way that God wants without argument or doubt is Mary. Mary, as a young beautiful damsel during her time, could defile herself and live worse life, but she did not do such. She also chose to be a vessel unto honour that the Master can use. Learn from Mary, youth!
LESSONS FROM DANIEL AS A YOUTH
‘But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.’ Daniel 1: 8
Daniel in the foreign land
Daniel from the beginning of his stay in the foreign land looked beyond the ordinary. While millions of the Israelites abandoned God, Daniel was one of the few who determined to live for God. He knew that idols are for the devil and he wanted to be for God and not the devil. He went to exile with the law of God in his heart. Exodus 34: 15 warns the Israelites not to eat meat offered to idols.
Daniel did not allow food to defile him.
In Babylon, Gentiles do prepare their food without attention to Jewish dietary laws, without which it would be unclean. Notice Daniel’s request in verses 12 and 13. Wonderful! Just ten days of eating vegetables and water. There is no ‘unclean’ vegetable. Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah passed the test creditably well. Divine wisdom was also given to them (vs 17-20)
Daniel was successful in the interpretation of King’s dreams.
Another day of the test came in chapter 2, God honoured four men with the interpretation of the King’s dream. Here, Daniel 2: 27-28, let us be available for God’s use as Daniel did. We must set ourselves apart for divine mandate so that God will continue to be glorified through our works. Daniel as a youth could use mundane things to defile himself and he could also implore the God-given gifts to cheat other people, but he did not do such. You can learn from Him!