Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 31, 1963
NUMBER 26, PAGE 1,10b-11

Jesus - The Example For Our Youth

James W. Rury

Each teacher of the truth and each parent charged with the responsibility of properly molding that which they have brought into the world is challenged anew by each child under their charge. The devoted teacher and the proper parent should be aware that every young person with normal capabilities is a potential for development into a life and character useful to God and man. To these teachers, parents and young people this present study is directed with the challenge in mind regarding the possibilities of each individual.

Edgar A. Guest well expressed the thought of the potential of the individual in a poem entitled "Equipment." He said:

Figure it out for yourself, my lad,

You've all the greatest of men have had,

Two arms, two hands, two legs, two eyes,

And a brain to use if you would be wise.

With this equipment they all began,

So start for the top and say "I can."

And then further in the poem he states:

You are the handicap you must face,

You are the one who must choose your place,

You must say where you want to grow,

And how much you will study the truth to know.

God has equipped you for life, but He

Lets you decide what you want to be.

Teacher and parents, what are your aims and guides as you mold this clay of life in your hands? And young man or young lady, what are you deciding that you want to do with what God has given you? May we encourage you to pattern your development after one who lived a life of perfection. Concerning the growth and development of this one it was recorded in his biography — "And the child grew, and waxed strong, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him....And Jesus advanced in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men" (Lk. 2:40, 52). For a life that is purposeful, complete, successful and happy, Jesus stands as the perfect example for such development.

Examining the progress of Jesus we find that his was a perfect fourfold development.

I. Physically

Luke tells us that the child, Jesus, "grew, and waxed strong" and that he "advanced in...stature." One should not err in putting the physical before the spiritual, but development of the inner man does not warrant needless neglect of the physical. God gave us an amazing and wonderfully constructed body capable of healing itself, capable of providing many of its own drugs and chemicals, capable of performing various functions of seeing, tasting, feeling, hearing, and smelling (all amazing processes in themselves), and capable of reproducing itself. Concerning children of God Paul said, "Or know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have from God? and ye are not your own; for ye were bought with a price: glorify God therefore in your body" (I Cor. 6:19-20). And further he stated, "Having therefore these promises beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (II Cor. 7:1). These passages teach proper use and care of the physical body of one who is to properly serve his creator.

Young people need to develop early in life correct habits of eating, proper rest and relaxation and proper exercise. Our diet is important because our body is, of course, greatly influenced by what we eat. Calm composure and relaxed peace of mind is a dire need in our world of anxiety and tension. Regarding proper exercise Paul, speaking of the "life which now is and of that which is to come," says that "bodily exercise is profitable for a little; but godliness is profitable for all things..." (I Tim. 4:8). Though godliness is by far the most important, bodily exercise is not to be completely forgotten by the one who would make the most of his life.

Payment has to be made when laws are violated and the laws of health and well-being are no exceptions. No medical advancements or miracle drugs can prevent consequences or bring back ruined health. Loss of one's health will prove to be one of life's greatest tragedies. "Life," says Longfellow, "without health is a burden, with health it is joy and gladness." What untold loss to the world has come about by unnecessary abuse of the health and wellbeing of many who could have otherwise lived long lives of unhampered usefulness. God only could know what some could have accomplished in life had they lived longer with clarity of mind, possessing the wisdom of age and unburdened by self-inflicted bodily infirmities.

As stewards of a God-given existence we need to take care to properly use and prolong as long as possible every precious moment of our life. Wise is the young person that determines to refrain from drinking, smoking, gluttony or anything that will be a detriment to his God-given structure. God's physical laws of nature concerning health must be obeyed if one is to possess strength and endurance to serve in life with all diligence. Jesus, our example, "grew, and waxed strong" and "advanced in...stature." This should be our aim.

II. Mentally

The biographer of Jesus further tells us in our text that the Lord "advanced in wisdom" (Lk. 2:52). The proper use of his mental capacities grew as his body did. Again, we note that God has given us an amazing mechanism, our mind, and the responsibility is ours to properly use our gift. Those who have studied the matter tell us that most use only a small portion of the capacity and capabilities of the mind. We are once more left to our imagination as to what could be accomplished for the good of God and our fellow man were, each to develop and use his mental aptitudes to the greatest extent. How much of the Bible could we commit to memory if we attempted it? How much more could we get out of our Bible study if we applied our mental capacities? How much more effective could we be in our teaching if we knew more about the Bible, about methods of teaching and about life and man in general?

We are living in a great age in which tools for learning and advantages for the pursuance of knowledge are almost unlimited. The stigma that once was upon learning in the mind of many young people when some thought that learning was for "sissies" no longer exists to hinder some from mental growth of which they are capable. It would be a lack of wisdom for young people today to ignore these possibilities for learning about our fellow man, about God and about his creation. All should mentally develop themselves and learn all that they can that will bring about a life of service to God, family, all mankind and self. Plato said, "The granary must be filled before the poor are fed; knowledge must be gained before knowledge is given."

One should understand with such an aim in mind that knowledge is not an end in itself, but it is merely a means to an end of service and usefulness. Wisdom must be developed for one to properly use his knowledge. Correct mental development is going to be closely related to spiritual progress. James says, "if any of you lacketh wisdom, let him ask of God..." (Jas. 1:5). The mental growth patterned after that of Christ will be characterized by the "mind" and disposition of Jesus, as Paul said to "Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2:5). And this properly developed mind will be thinking on "whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report," those things which are virtuous and which are praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8).

III. Socially

Another facet of the, perfect development of Jesus which we observe as our example is that Luke says that Jesus " favor ...with men." To be well liked and respected for good qualities by men is to be desired. It is a mistake to think that a young person who is properly developing has to be some sort of unfriendly, rude, disliked individual. The well-rounded young person need not be such a social failure, and yet he must not and need not compromise with wrong in his social development. He has but to develop the good traits of character based on Bible principles. They should develop themselves socially to be friendly, have a sincere concern for others (as Jesus did), to be polite, to live kindly, to deal honestly and fairly with all and to speak the language of purity and good will. One does not have to dance, pet, park or practice any sort of questionable activity or act of immorality to be popular and socially acceptable. Aside from the perverted exceptions most will respect one of a well-rounded development possessing the qualities of good character. To say the least, such a one will be respected and well liked by those who should really matter.

The building of character is one of the most important things with which a man can occupy himself. True greatness and beauty of life comes from the development of strong character. Most of life and thus character consists of a series of habits. The progressive development is brought about by thoughts which produce acts, acts which bring about habits, habits, which build character, and character which determines destiny. So vitally important then are our thoughts and actions.

Character is not developed to be socially acceptable. One develops character for the benefit of God, society, and self and the individual is then socially acceptable for the most part. The person's own happiness and satisfaction then results. A Chinese proverb wisely states: "One cannot carve rotten wood." Likewise, God can use us and our life can only be as full and happy as we develop our potential.

IV. Spiritually

Foremost in the perfect progress of Jesus it is said by Luke that he "advanced in favor with God." In this advancement, Jesus said, "I must be about my Father's house" ("business"-K.J.V.) (Luke 2:49).

The writer of inspired wisdom says, "Remember thy creator in the days of thy youth, before the evil days come, and the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them." (Eccl. 12:1) And yet, many young men of age and short of wisdom mistakenly want to "sow their wild oats and then settle down later." The Bible says, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth unto his own flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption..." (Gal. 5:7-8) One of the worst things to reap from such living is the loss of a desire to do right. Some reap a ruined reputation, some a habit of dope addiction or alcoholism and some the problem of an unwanted, illegitimate child. These are the cold, hard facts of life regarding the fruits of such a choice on the part of many young people. Nothing is gained and happiness is lost.

Wiser and happier it would be to choose a life of righteousness rather than wasting God-given time in sin and then near the end of life offer God a worn out hull with a few days of limited service left in it. Spiritual growth, at its best, is too slow and difficult for one to wait late in life to attempt it.

Young people should be challenged by the fact that it takes a stronger person to say no to temptation and evil than it takes for one to say yes to every invitation of the world. Be strong and one will be pleasing to God, will retain his self-respect and will serve better his loved ones and all mankind. Learn early in life to pray, to give to God, to meditate on spiritual things and happiness and usefulness will be yours. The world and the church have a great need for spiritually strong men to serve as good husbands, leaders, elders in the church; and there is a need for women of strength and purity of character to serve as good mothers and wives of church leaders.

Jesus stands as the perfect example for a well rounded development "in wisdom and stature, in favor with God and men." This life of contentment and usefulness stands as a challenge to each parent, each teacher, and each young person. Each individual is a bundle of magnificent possibilities, and it is in the perfect and harmonious development of these that his true life lies.

— 1216 Birch St., Dallas, Oregon