Hebrews 13:7 says, “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith”. Jonathan Edwards (1703 – 1758) is one of the giants of faith whose steps we ought to follow. As a preacher and theologian, God used him mightily to convict many of sins and bring many to repentance in the Great Awakening. Edwards’ discourses for youths are still highly relevant for us today.
Bible Reading: Ecclesiastes 12:1-8
“Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them” (Ecclesiastes 12:1)
These days, radical Christianity is definitely not normal. Youths with faiths like Edwards are scarce to be found. There are few who seek after God and holiness in our current world. Have we surrendered the entirety of our youth to God? Is He whom we seek before the days go evil? Edwards gives some points as to why we must remember God in our youth.
1. We must turn to God in our youth and do so presently because if we surrender to God in our youth, we will have the greatest time to know God and be sanctified.
Many people do not get to know God from a young age. Yet, God has given us the privilege to be surrounded by God’s Word in His church even from when we were little. This was no coincidence. God wills that we surrender our young lives to Him in order that we may have a longer time in our life to get to know God and serve Him. Getting to know Him and serve Him was God’s original plan. However, we fell into sin, deserving hell. If God has given us more time to return to Him and enjoy earlier His grace and love, why do we still procrastinate to follow God in all aspects of our lives fully?
2. It is fitting that our lives should begin with God.
God is our creator. Shouldn’t the first thing a creation do be acknowledge his Creator? In God’s providence, He has given us opportunities now to surrender our minds, wills and affections to God. We do not know if God will give us another chance in the future.
As we get older, the more we will sin, the more our hearts and consciences become hardened. Also, the days become eviler, and many of life’s distractions will keep us from coming to God. Matthew 12:45 says, “the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation”. If we reject God in our youth, our future will continue to backslide into greater sins, our consciences will be seared and made numb to the will of God, and we will continue our days and life pursuing evil in rebellions against God.
Youth is the prime and fitting moment for us to turn back to God. If we turn to God in our youth, our lives will conversely be sanctified, made holy into a pleasing sacrifice that bears fruit for the glory of God.
3. Early piety is especially acceptable to God because we give the flower of our age and the first fruits of our life.
Our whole lives should be offered to God. However, He is especially pleased when we give our best to Him. Our youth is the best part of our life. It is the time when we have the most strength, liveliness and power of the mind to serve God. Exodus 22:29 says, “you shall not delay to offer from the fullness of your harvest and from the outflow of your presses.” Why should we delay in offering our lives to God now?
God is more glorified if we give our lives to Him in our youth because we have a full life to serve and honour Him. On the other hand, if we choose to delay and by God’s grace He still gives us a chance to repent, we would have wasted our days in the service of Satan, only to give God the leftovers of our life.
There is no reason to hinder our repentance. Have we sought holiness and piety seriously in our youth? “For to this end (godliness) we toil and strive” (1 Timothy 4:10). If we seek godliness early, there will be more time for us to taste true joy, comfort, peace, and satisfaction in communion with God. Do not wait! Turn to God now.
Lord, thank You for great men of faith who teach us with haste the vitality of your Word. Here is my life. I do not want to live my youth in sin, rather accept it as a pleasing offering to You. Please forgive me, for I have not been serious in following You in my youth. Take the rest of it all, wholly for You alone. Teach me to know and taste Your goodness and the wisdom of your loving plans for my life when I give it wholly to You. In Jesus’ name, amen.
This devotion is a paraphrase from Jonathan Edward’s sermons, Early Piety is Especially Acceptable to God (1734) and The Time of Youth Is the Best Time to Be Improved for Religious Purposes. They can be found in the book To The Rising Generation, a collection of Edward’s preaching for youth published by Soli Deo Gloria Publications.
Hans Sangtoki (18) is the coordinator of RE Generation Z. He has a passion for serving his generation and sharing hope in Christ. He also has an interest in classical music and dreams of conducting an orchestra one day.