Young people are given all kinds of messages today about what’s important or right. From movies to music and tweets to texts, teenagers and young adults are bombarded with countless ideas and suggestions, most of which don’t honor God. In the midst of all of this, how is a godly young man to keep his feet on the right path?
My husband and I have pastored youth and adults for many years, and we are raising three young men as well. Together, we came up with seven keys for living as a godly young man in today’s world.
Understand that following God is worth it
Living for and following God is not always easy, but it’s worth it. God promises in Jeremiah 7:23, “Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you.”
God is a good Father, and good fathers give their children both freedom and boundaries. In Deuteronomy 30:19 God says, “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.” If we choose to follow the ways of the world, we bring curses upon ourselves, but when we choose God’s ways, He gives abundant life (John 10:10)!
Throughout the Bible, God’s people were often tempted to live like other nations and worship their gods. This was unacceptable to Yahweh (the one true God), so He withdrew his presence and blessings because of their disobedience and idolatry.
We too must be careful not to follow the ways of the world but God’s ways. Jesus instructed in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” We don’t have to worry about “missing out” on all the world has to offer because when we put God first, like a good Father, He takes care of all we need and even some of our wants!
Know your Bible better than you know ESPN
The Bible is God’s instruction manual; it’s how you get to know who God is and who He isn’t. The Bible doesn’t address every single topic known to man. For example, movies and cell phones weren’t even a thought in Bible days! But reading the Bible daily helps you understand God’s character so you can make decisions about how to live even if the situation isn’t specifically addressed in the Bible.
Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” In the light of God’s Word, we can know which way to go and which decisions to make to honor God. Taking in the Word of God renews our minds so we think the way God wants us to think: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom 12:2).
Paul explains in Timothy explains that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” From Genesis to Revelation, both the Old Testament and the New Testament instruct us how to live, how to talk, how to treat people, and how to know God.
In Matthew 4:4 Jesus said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” Just like bread is a physical staple in much of the world, the Bible needs to be the spiritual staple for us. We must “eat” the Word of God daily so we can be spiritually strong.
Purity cannot be optional
Accessing inappropriate images and content is so simple today. Even billboards and magazine covers display half-dressed women. But it’s God’s will that we keep our eyes, minds and hearts pure. 1 Timothy 4:12 teaches, “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”
God created sex, and He’s not against it when it’s within the covenant of marriage: “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4). Why does God limit sex to marriage? Because outside of marriage, sex can result in unplanned pregnancy, diseases and heartache, just to name a few. Additionally, God intended sexual intimacy to spiritually bind us to our spouse for a lifetime. Remember, as a good Father, God gives us boundaries for our safety and good; it’s our choice to adhere to those boundaries or not.
The psalmist asks in Psalm 119:9, “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.” We must spend time in God’s word daily to gain spiritual strength to stand against temptation. In Job 31:1, Job determined, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; why then should I look upon a young woman?” Decide ahead of time that you will not look lustfully at a woman; it IS possible to keep your eyes, mind and heart pure when you ask God for His supernatural strength.
Have a godly male role model
Peter instructed, “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’” It takes humility to ask for help or guidance, but that’s exactly what God wants us to do.
Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” Another version of this verse says that iron sharpening iron is like one man influencing another man through discussion. When we invite godly people to speak into our lives and instruct us, we get stronger and more stable in our faith, and we can make godly decisions.
Some young men are blessed to have their father as a spiritual role model, but if that’s not the case for you, begin to ask God to show you who can be a spiritual father in your life. You aren’t looking for a perfect person, of course, but a person whom you admire and wouldn’t mind emulating.
Honor those in authority over you, even when you disagree
When you disagree with those in authority over you, it can be difficult to submit to them. But God commands that we honor leaders, teachers and pastors both in the church and outside of the church.
1 Timothy 2:2 teaches us to pray for those in authority over us, “for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.” We must be careful to have the right attitude toward the authorities God has placed over us.
Learn how to properly manage your money
God isn’t against money; He’s not even against Christians being rich! But He won’t compete with money either. He knows that money can have a powerful hold on our hearts, so we must be sure that we have power over our money—not that money has power over us.
1 Timothy 6:17 says, “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.” We must remember to trust in God, not money or things. Matthew 6:32 says that God knows that we have needs for food, shelter and clothing, so we shouldn’t worry about those things, rather we need to trust God for those things.
Proverbs 1:7 tells us, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs is full of godly financial wisdom. And even though the Bible doesn’t specifically mention credit cards, it sure talks a lot about debt, spending, saving, and honoring God with His tithe (Malachi 3).
Focus on the long-term, not just the short-term
It’s easy to get focused on what’s right in front of you and to forget that what you’re doing today sets you up (or messes you up) for tomorrow. But even when you’re busy with school, work, friends and family, you must not let what’s urgent distract you from what’s important.
Galatians 6:7 says, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” Make sure that you are sowing good seed today so you can reap a good harvest in the future. For example, racking up a bunch of credit card debt won’t set you up for financial prosperity in the future.
Remember, 2 Corinthians 4:18 says, “… we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” Enjoy your life today, and don’t worry about tomorrow, but be sure to think about and plan for your future as well.
~ by Jennell & Wayne Houts