I WRITE TO YOU, YOUNG MEN
“I write to you, young men because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.” 1 John 2:14
In our natural growth, we go through the childhood stage and then move on to the youthful stage until we reach the stage of adulthood. Similarly, when a person becomes born again, he goes through various stages of spiritual growth. Spiritual growth is different from natural growth. Natural growth takes a large effect on the human body and you can directly see the changes. On the contrary, spiritual growth is not visible directly. It is seen in one’s spirituality and behaviour. This growth takes effect in the human spirit.
Some behavioural tendencies young men in spirit are likely to show at their level is unguarded zeal or over-zealousness. Proverbs 19:2 says it is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way. This sometimes makes them discriminatory, critical and judgemental. Some would not even hesitate to criticize, without respect, those who have gone ahead of them in the faith. And it is sometimes difficult to make them see their mistake because they think they know or understand enough. And also because they believe they have scriptures to back their actions. As young men in spirit, their spiritual eyes have begun to open. At this stage, they are very much on fire for God and their spiritual egos are high. This situation is not much different from the behavioural tendencies we often witness in young men in the natural (youth) when they exhibit certain youthful exuberance. Our young men in spirit are also very likely to exhibit some spiritual exuberances.
“An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”
“Master,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him because he is not one of us.” Do not stop him, Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.”
As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” But Jesus turned and rebuked them. Then he and his disciples went to another village. Luke 9:46-56.
When you consider the scriptures above, you see ego among the disciples as they argue about which of them would be the greatest. John was also discriminating and judgmental when he said to Jesus that We saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him because he is not one of us. Other signs you are likely to notice among young men in spirit are that some love to boast about the things God has started doing with them and revealing to them just to show off and win the praises of men. They can also be very competitive. This is seen in the move of James and John when they asked Jesus to let one of them sit on his right hand and the other on his left hand in glory. And when the other disciples heard about it, they became annoyed with James and John (Mark 10:35-37, 41). Furthermore, at this stage, the young men in spirit are somewhat rash in their judgments. They lack the patience that comes with maturity, hence, on the least provocation they want to flex power. An example is what we see in James and John when the people in the Samaritan village did not welcome them. They asked Jesus if he wants them to call down fire from heaven to destroy them. But Jesus turned and rebuked them. I believe James and John thought about that because they have heard about Elijah calling down fire from heaven. So just like I stated earlier, sometimes it is difficult for such believers to see their error because they believe they have a scriptural basis for putting up certain attitudes I consider rash, extreme, judgemental and overzealous.
However, it is important to note that at this point, the Holy Spirit is only revealing things to the young men in spirit through the study of scriptures and possibly, listening to sermons. He is not teaching them how to practically apply them yet. To learn how to apply scriptures in the right sense and context requires walking with God in obedience after you have received his word. So I would say that this youthful stage of the believer is like giving a good sword to an unskilled and inexperienced man. Though the believer at this stage has the good sword (word), he has to learn how to use the sword (word) efficiently to benefit fully from the sword (word). And this comes through constant practice and experience.
Paul’s message to Timothy
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:14-17:
Let me trim this text for you to see it clearly:
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of… and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures… so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
This is Paul speaking to the young man Timothy. Though Timothy was in ministry, he was still a young man in spirit being mentored by Paul. So Paul was encouraging Timothy that he should continue living by the scriptures that he has learnt from infancy. Because it is when he has applied the scriptures over and over that he would become skilled, mature, complete and equipped for every good work. Not some good work, but every good work.
“But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” Hebrews 5:14
Read also some behavioural traits of natural youthfulness and see how they compare with spiritual youthfulness.