By David Faust
As our society drifts farther from God, what will it be like 10 years from now? or 30 years from now? How can young people be faithful to God when they grow up in a cultural cesspool? It’s tough out there. “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). How many teens or young adults want to sign up for that?
Actually, more than you might think.
We shouldn’t underestimate the spiritual hunger and ministry capacity of the next generation. Many young Christ-followers are up for the challenge of living for God; but parents, ministers, and youth leaders need to make the challenge clear.
Paul didn’t hold anything back from young Timothy. He could see moral decay on the horizon: “People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power” (vv. 2-5).
Young people appreciate honesty, and Paul’s blunt assessment rings true. Standing for God has never been a picnic, and we shouldn’t try to sugarcoat it. But Paul didn’t just decry what was wrong with the world; he affirmed Timothy’s ability to stay strong and make a difference. After outlining the hard realities, Paul told his young friend, “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of” (v.14).
I like that statement: “But as for you.” Paul was saying, “Timothy, it’s rough out there, but you can be different.” In a world that has lost its moral compass, there’s always a role for someone who knows the way and can help others find it too.
These Things We Know
What could build Timothy’s confidence?
He knew God’s Word. Paul said, “From infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures” (v. 15). As a baby, Timothy had his worldview shaped by a mom who conveyed God’s love and truth to him. The Bible doesn’t just make us knowledgeable; it makes us “wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (v. 15). It’s not a collection of stale religious rules that originated in the minds of flawed human beings. “All Scripture is God-breathed,” which makes it practical and relevant, “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (v. 16).
He knew his teachers. Paul reminded him, “You know those from whom you learned it” (v. 14). The sincere faith of Timothy’s grandmother (Lois) and mom (Eunice) rubbed off on him when he was a young boy (1:5). When Timothy grew up, he learned from none other than the apostle Paul himself, who considered Timothy a “dear son” in the faith (v. 2).
He knew his life’s purpose. God gives us his Word “so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (3:17). No matter how rugged the spiritual battles or how difficult the work he was called to do, Timothy was well-equipped for the task.
Make the Challenge Clear
Young people are eager for a challenge. What would happen if more of us dared to lay out a bold, God-honoring vision to the teens and young adults in our sphere of influence? How can we inspire them to follow Jesus wholeheartedly and devote their lives to his service?
Where are the voices saying, “But as for you . . .”?
1. What child, teen, or young adult considers you a person of influence?
2. How can you encourage the next generation to pursue a life of godliness and service?
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church, Indianapolis, Indiana.
The Lookout’s Bible Reading Plan for August 17, 2014
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of The Lookout.
2 Timothy 1:1–7
Nehemiah 4, 5
2 Timothy 1:8–18
2 Timothy 2:1–13
2 Timothy 2:14–26
2 Timothy 3:1–9
2 Timothy 3:10–17