Being of account in anyone else’s eyes was vanity. In your youth, determine the same for yourself: that even if the whole world reviles you, only let Christ approve you; that even if the world applauds you, let it be the applause of Christ only that captures your heart.
My sermon today is titled: Young to God’s Glory: How Not to Waste Your Youth. The point is very simple. You can graduate with honors and not glorify God. You can be the star athlete and not glorify God. You can be on track for a successful career and not glorify God. You can have colleges and companies competing for you and not glorify God. This is a call to you young graduates to live to God’s glory while you are young.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, Maidenhood has this line, “Standing, with reluctant feet, where the brook and river meet.” You young brooks are emerging into rivers. Here are some things us older rivers think you should know.
#1: Make sure that making your life count for Christ matters more to you than being of account in the world.
What can you become in this world? Rich? Successful? Famous? Comfortable? Accomplished? Applauded and Adored? First of all, nothing the world offers you even begins to compare to what Christ offers you (Php. 3:7-9). You will count very little for Christ if you’re going to live for the world. Third, whatever your ambitions are you have no idea if you’re going to live long enough to achieve them. But, making your life count for Christ can begin today. Make each day matter for your Savior and Lord. It doesn’t require a Ph.D or even two pennies to rub together. It requires your will. The French moralist, Montaigne says, “The value of life lies not in the length of days but in the use you make of them; he has lived for a long time who has little lived. Whether you have lived enough depends not on the number of your years but on your will.
George Whitefield, the monumental 18th century English evangelist, who was perhaps the greatest evangelist in church history, was only about 20 or 21 years old when massive crowds began to flock to hear him preach. The crowds, numbering often in the 40-50,000’s would have tempted any preacher to think much of himself. But in one entry to his diary, Whitefield wrote of his careful humility regarding all the great things people were saying of his preaching, “God heard my request and gave me to see the vanity of all commendations but His own.” Read also pg 43 (50 people…)
He echoed the Apostle Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 2:4, “We are not trying to please men, but God.” Or in Galatians 1:10, “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Not much older than you, the young George Whitefield wanted nothing more than for his life to count for Christ. Being of account in anyone else’s eyes was vanity. In your youth, determine the same for yourself: that even if the whole world reviles you, only let Christ approve you; that even if the world applauds you, let it be the applause of Christ only that captures your heart.
One final thought on this point: If you are going to count for Christ then Christ must count to you. He must be first. He is the kind of God who will not consent to 2nd place in your life. Because He is who He is – the eternal Creator – first place is His rightful place in your life. A man or woman is only as worthy of God as their thoughts of God are worthy of Him. He must be worth everything to you. Then you will see your life counting for Him.
#2: Determine that the first thing you’re going to do as an emerging adult is to establish your convictions about the Bible.
There will be nothing more important for you than to start your adult life with the right convictions about what the Bible is. A Gallup Poll last year found that only 12% of you between the ages of 18 and 29 would say yes, the Bible is the actual word of God and is to be understood literally. So, roughly, one out of ten of your age group. Will you be part of the minority, or, go with the crowd?
I’m not talking about what it says, I’m not talking about its actual content in the verses. I’m talking about you deciding for yourself if you are going to believe this is just a book by men full of myths and mistakes, or, if it is what it claims to be: the very words of God to you telling you what truth is. Nothing will have a more profound impact on your whole life more than that decision.
- Campbell Morgan lived from 1863-1945 and was one of the most powerful evangelists, and gifted teachers of the Bible there ever was. He has been called the “prince of expositors” by the English speaking world. But at the age of 19, after having been preaching for several years, he had what he called an “eclipse of faith”, where he wrestled with whether he really believed the Bible to be God’s Word. In his day there were skeptic organizations devoted to ruining the credibility of the Scriptures, to proving that man cannot really know God. Morgan’s room was piled with books of these people, and then Christians arguing back. At 20 years old he said, “I am no longer sure that this is what my father claims it to be – the word of God.”
“At last the crisis came when he admitted to himself his total lack of assurance that the Bible was the authoritative Word of God to man. He immediately cancelled all preaching engagements. Then, taking all his books, both those attacking and those defending the Bible, he put them all in a corner cupboard. Relating this afterwards, as he did many times in preaching, he told of turning the key in the lock of the door. “I can hear the click of that lock now,” he used to say. He went out of the house, and down the street to a bookshop. He bought a new Bible and, returning to his room with it, he said to himself: “I am no longer sure that this is what my father claims it to be—the Word of God. But of this I am sure. If it be the Word of God, and if I come to it with an unprejudiced and open mind, it will bring assurance to my soul of itself.”
“That Bible found me,” he said, “I began to read and study it then, in 1883. I have been a student ever since, and I still am [in 1938].”
At the end of two years Campbell Morgan emerged from that eclipse of faith absolutely sure that the Bible was, in very deed and truth, none other than the Word of the living God.
Are you like G. Campbell Morgan before or after his eclipse of faith? If you are like him before, then shut yourself in your room and get a brand new Bible and do not leave that room until you emerge convinced whether it is God’s word or not.
Here’s why its important: If you think it’s not God’s Word, you will disregard it. You will select which parts you find appealing or have some sentimental value, and which parts agree with your ideas…and as for the other parts you don’t like you can just write them off as myth, mistakes, or, out-moded ideas of morality.
But if you accept it as God’s words – as you should for very good reasons – then you will realize you’re accountable to it. Everything it says is true and it is the ultimate judge of right and wrong or true and false. That means that you’re not the judge and you don’t set the rules – not you, not your friends, not your professors, not Main Stream Media, not your political affiliation, not the blogosphere or the social media commentariat. If you believe the Bible is God’s Word, as you have every reason to, then everything you hear everywhere else is subject to the Bible.
Arrogant snobs, ignorant of the Bible’s credibility and veracity, will tell you that faith in the Bible is for intellectual pee-wees. You will feel tempted to feel you yourself must be of limited intelligence for considering the Bible to be of some accuracy. But if you fall for that you are falling for one of the most effective lies. Proverbs 30:5 says, “Every word of God is flawless…” If you really believe it is God’s word then it will have the prevailing influence over your beliefs about the world and what’s going on in the world. You will find that you live off the words in the Bible (Mt. 4:4). You will have a true compass to effectively navigate the world you live in (Ps. 119:105).
Archimedes, the famous Greek mathematician of antiquity said, “Give me but one firm spot on which to stand, and I will move the earth.” That firm spot is the Bible. Too bad Archimedes wasn’t around another 300 years later or he would have heard Jesus say in Matthew 7:24, “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house [life] on the rock.” The Bible contains our Lord’s words, and, you will do well to make His words in the Bible your firm spot on which to stand.
R.A. Torrey on D.L. Moody: “Oh, you may talk about power; but, if you neglect the one Book that God has given you as the one instrument through which He imparts and exercises His power, you will not have it…..unless you keep in constant and close association with the one Book, the Bible, you will not have power. And if you ever had power, you will not maintain it except by the daily, earnest, intense study of that Book. Ninety-nine Christians in every hundred are merely playing at Bible study; and therefore ninety-nine Christians in every hundred are mere weaklings, when they might be giants, both in their Christian life and in their service.”
Determine that the first thing you’re going to do as an emerging adult is to establish your convictions about the Bible. And if you are going to be young to the glory of God then be convicted right away that God is real and the Bible is really His Word.
#3: Stay morally in sync with Jesus Christ.
It is the author of Psalm 119 that asks that great question, “How can a young man keep his way pure?” The question is not coming academically or theoretically, but, rather honestly, and, personally. He seems to have a very real yearning to be pure before God but you sense that behind the question is a man acquainted with how easy it is as human to be impure. Like Paul in Romans 7…
So, how does he answer his own question? What he say is the key to living a pure life in front of God? “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” The secret to living a life that is pure, that is morally in sync with Jesus Christ is the combination of loving God so much that you love His ways so much and therefore you love His word with so much of your heart.
Purity means not loving the world (1 John 2:15), and, not conforming to the world (Romans 12:1-2).
Your moral convictions and your concept of what is true is going to marginalize you in this world. You have to decide if being shunned by the world is worth being embraced by Jesus Christ.
Advice from your EFC Family:
- Hold on to truth and integrity, and give your best to God. And maybe delete all forms of social media. – Randall
- Matthew 6:33 “Seek you first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things (in context means daily needs) shall be added unto you. Seek the Lord first, not a vocation or ministry. As you focus on His character, and seek to live righteously, He will open up doors and guide you. Proverbs 3:5-6 as well.
- “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.” – Jene
- You have 3 enemies who will try to push you away from Jesus: the world, Satan, and your old nature. If you stick close to Jesus and His Word, He will guide you throughout your life. Otherwise, you will slowly drift away from Him and live like an unbeliever. – Jim
- I would say integrity is everything in the big bad world of careers and everything leading to that. No one can steal your integrity. Stand by your beliefs and never shush your gut. This has saved me in many a bad situation. Oh the stories I could tell……. – Janet
- If you are moving away from home, friends and church family, make an effort to find 2-3 friends that you can fill your down time with. Don’t allow yourself to become lonely. – Rama
- Happiest is not found in making money. Joy is found in being generous, generous with your time as well as with your money. – Al
- “Your good character is more important than worldly success or status. Stay true to what you know is right, put God first no matter what others are doing around you. Live in a way that you don’t have regrets or consequences of sin that you have to live with; because those consequences could stay with you the rest of your life and affect those you love as much, or more than they do you.” – Sue