Good Things to Do When You’re Young

Young People

The wise man noted, “Childhood and the prime of life are fleeting” (Ecclesiastes 11:10). One does not need to possess the wisdom of Solomon to see this. The fleeting nature of youth becomes more apparent with age, yet it is often not appreciated by those who are young.

At every stage of life, it is important to make the most of our time (Ephesians 5:16). How can one do this in youth?

Depending on who you ask, you will receive different answers to that question – pursue an education, build friendships, etc. What does the Bible say? Let us notice six things that the Bible says are good to do in one’s youth.

Enjoy Life

Rejoice, young man, during your childhood, and let your heart be pleasant during the days of young manhood. And follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes. Yet know that God will bring you to judgment for all these things. So, remove grief and anger from your heart and put away pain from your body, because childhood and the prime of life are fleeting” (Ecclesiastes 11:9-10).

Why did the wise man emphasize one enjoying life in his youth? Generally, a young person does not have to face challenges and hardships that typically come with age (cf. Ecclesiastes 12:2-7). There are also fewer responsibilities in youth and, therefore, more time to sit and play while others are working (cf. Luke 7:32). Because of this, it is good for one to enjoy life during his youth.

Yet this does not mean that the young have a license to sin or to “sow their wild oats.” Even in youth, one still has a responsibility to serve God. This is why the wise man explained that while one ought to “let [his] heart be pleasant during the days of young manhood,” he must still remember that “God will bring [him] to judgment for all these things” (Ecclesiastes 11:9; cf. 12:13-14).

Get Married

Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth” (Proverbs 5:18).

In addressing his son/sons (Proverbs 5:1, 7), the wise man said to “rejoice in the wife of your youth” (Proverbs 5:18). The context is about avoiding fornication (Proverbs 5:3-8, 20), which is an important part of marriage (1 Corinthians 7:2-5, 9). However, beyond the sexual fulfillment in marriage, it is good for a man – even a young man – to “enjoy life with the woman whom [he loves] all the days of [his] fleeting life” (Ecclesiastes 9:9).

But this is not an encouragement for one to rush into marriage and marry the wrong person. Paul warned of the danger being “unequally yoked” (2 Corinthians 6:14, KJV), and though that passage is not exclusively about marriage, the principle certainly applies. It also does not mean that one must get married. Paul wrote, “But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I” (1 Corinthians 7:9). What this does mean is that from youth one must be looking for someone who would make a good/godly spouse and not delay marriage unnecessarily (to finish school, establish a career, gain financial security, etc.). It is good to enjoy marriage in one’s youth.

Work Hard

The glory of young men is their strength, and the honor of old men is their gray hair” (Proverbs 20:29).

Generally speaking, older men have the advantage of experience and wisdom while young men have the advantage of strength. Therefore, it is good to make the most of this advantage. “It is good for a man that he should bear the yoke in his youth” (Lamentations 3:27). The wise man emphasized the importance of working hard in order to prepare for the future. “The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage” (Proverbs 21:5). “The hand of the diligent will rule” (Proverbs 12:24).

However, working hard is not an excuse to neglect spiritual things. Jesus described one who put off the care of his soul because he was busy with an abundant harvest as a “fool” (Luke 12:16-21). When God commanded the Israelites to observe the Sabbath (Exodus 20:8-10), He specifically told them they were to do this even during the busy time of the harvest (Exodus 34:21).

Many want to use their youth – even into young adulthood – as an excuse to be lazy and avoid work, yet the wise man expressed the folly of this: “He who tills his land will have plenty of food, but he who follows empty pursuits will have poverty in plenty” (Proverbs 28:19).

Honor Father and Mother

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth” (Ephesians 6:1-3).

There are two commands given in these verses – obey and honor. This means that young people are not to be grudgingly obedient to their parents, they are also to respect them. However, notice the promise that was given with the commandment – “that it may be well with you.” While a child’s obedience certainly makes life easier on the parents, this is ultimately for the benefit of the child. Godly parents are training and disciplining their children in order to move them from “foolishness” to “righteousness” (Proverbs 22:15; Hebrews 12:11).

It is important to note that this is to be done “in the Lord” (Ephesians 6:1). Some parents try to raise their children in the Lord and some (or many) do not. If a young person, as he gets older, realizes that his parents are not raising him “in the Lord,” he might still respect them as parents, but he must not follow them into sin. The Lord, through the prophet Ezekiel, described a righteous son who “observed all his father’s sins which he committed, and observing does not do likewise” (Ezekiel 18:14).

Listen to Your Elders

You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5).

Though the immediate context is about submitting to elders in the local church (1 Peter 5:1-3), the principle applies beyond that. The command was given in the Law of Moses, “You shall rise up before the grayheaded and honor the aged, and you shall revere your God; I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:32), showing the connection between honoring elders and fearing God.

There is wisdom to be gained from those who are older than us (cf. Proverbs 20:29), yet even this is not a substitute for following God’s word. The psalmist wrote, “I have more insight than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, because I have observed Your precepts” (Psalm 119:99-100). First and foremost, we must be following what the Scriptures teach; but we must also have the humility to listen to others. “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel” (Proverbs 12:15). Young people need to remember that they do not have all of the answers, so it is important to be willing to listen to those who have more knowledge, experience, and wisdom.

Remember Your Creator

Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, ‘I have no delight in them’” (Ecclesiastes 12:1).

This is the foundation for everything else we have discussed. If one forgets God, everything else – enjoying life, getting married, working hard, honoring parents, listening to elders, etc. – will be misdirected. If one forgets God, he will end up with a life of “vanity” and “futility” (Ecclesiastes 1:14; 2:17).

Of course, one could forget his Creator in his youth and still turn to God later in life. In the parable of the laborers in the vineyard, Jesus taught that even those who respond to the Lord’s call at “the eleventh hour” can still receive the reward (Matthew 20:1-16). But while this is possible, it is more difficult as it easy to become distracted and/or bitter with age. Besides this, we simply do not know how much time we have in this life. One’s life could end (James 4:14) or the Lord could return (2 Peter 3:9-10) while he is still in his youth. One is far better off to begin serving the Lord in his youth and continue doing so throughout his life.

Conclusion

Youth is a blessing, but it is fleeting. If you are still in the time of your youth, make sure you are following after this wisdom that comes from above.


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Comments

  1. Jefferson Tant says

    Thanks for the lesson “Good Things…”, Andy.
    In my work overseas (Philippines, Malaysia and Jamaica) I always spend time teaching young people. So in those many years, I’ve used up most of my lessons for young people, so your lesson is not only helpful, but it’s good.