A 6000-year-old Egyptian tomb bears this inscription: “We live in a decadent age. Young people no longer respect their parents. They are rude and impatient. They inhabit taverns and have no self-control.” The philosopher Plato agreed. “The youth are rebellious, pleasure-seeking, and irresponsible,” he wrote. “They have no respect for their elders.” Socrates complained, “Children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority. They show disrespect for elders, and love chatter.” And Martin Luther wrote in the sixteenth century “The young people of today are utterly dissolute and disorderly…”
Well, I don’t agree with their assessment. The fact is, every generation has its share of “rebellious, pleasure-seeking and irresponsible” individuals. “Bad manners” and “contempt for authority” do not end when one receives that significant insurance reduction at age 25. But the next time you think young people today are going from bad to worse, remember that God has always had a rich handful of young heroes ready to make a difference in the world. The Bible tells us of Joseph the dreamer, Ruth the young daughter-in-law to Naomi, David the giant-killer, Daniel in Babylon, Mary the mother of Jesus and the young preacher Timothy.
Throughout the centuries, there have been young people who were ready and willing to make a difference in their generation. Take, for example, some of the hymns that we sing. Many of our favorite hymns were written by young adults. Isaac Watts wrote some of his most memorable hymns at about the age of nineteen. “We’re Marching to Zion,” “and “Alas and Did My Savior Bleed” were just two of the many hymns this young man composed. The hymn, “Work for the Night Is Coming,” was written by an eighteen-year-old. And the hymn of deep devotion, “My Jesus, I Love Thee,” was written by William R. Featherston at age sixteen! Little else is known about the origin of the hymn or its author, but that’s all right. It’s enough just to know that God can change the world through anyone, regardless of age, who will say…
My Jesus, I Love Thee; I know Thou art mine.
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, My Savior art Thou.
If ever I loved Thee, My Jesus, ‘tis now.
The words of this young man and other young songwriters have had such an impact on the lives of many. Now you may not be a giant-killer, a young evangelist, or a song-writer, but you can make a difference in the lives of those who are around you as well. You have talents and abilities that God can use to His glory.
After he had tried all that this life could offer, Solomon’s advice was to “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth” (Eccl 12:1). So the next time the pressure is on and your friends are bowing down to the various gods of intoxication, immorality, and immodesty you can say, as did the young men in Daniel 3:18, “Let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” Perhaps your example will be just what someone needs to make a real difference in their life! <Kevan O’Banion>