Trying to Be the Wrong Thing
Do you remember the story of the ugly duckling? Although he was a swan, there was some kind of mix up and he was accidentally raised by a family of ducks! Now this did not turn out very well for the poor fellow. He spent all his time trying to look like a duck, act like a duck, eat like a duck, swim like a duck, fly like a duck. but he was a swan!
I have known some children like this "ugly duckling." They spend all their time trying to be the wrong thing - then one day when they are 24 or 37 or 52 or even 78 years old they decide it is time to live like a swan. only it is very hard to change. It would have been better if they lived the way there were supposed to from the very start.
So, how does God want you to live when you are a child? I want you to look at three boys in the bible with me and see what God liked about them. It may surprise you!
Three Boys in the Bible
Samuel - "Now the young man Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favor with the Lord and also with man." (1 Samuel 2:26 )
John the Baptist - "And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel." (Luke 1:80)
Jesus - "And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the grace of God was upon him." (Luke 2:40) "And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man." (Luke 2:52)
Doing What God Wants
You may have noticed that these verses sound a lot alike - even though they are written about three very different people. I think that is because the Lord is telling us what he likes to see in children. We could break it up into these six commands:
1. Grow Up!
One of the first things you should pray for as a young person is that the Lord would give you grace to grow! Who made your body? God did. Why did He give you this body? To do things - like paint a wall and drive a car and get a job. More than that, He gave you a body so that you could bring glory to Him.
Have you ever heard of Jim Elliot? When he was still young (okay, 18 years old, but that looks young to me!) he started eating lots of vegetables and fruits and training for the wrestling team at his college. Do you know why? Did he do all that to look good so people would like him better? No. He did all that so that he could make his body rugged and ready for the mission field!
Samuel, John the Baptist and Jesus all grew - pray that God grows you up healthy and big and strong!
2. Get Strong!
The Bible says that John the Baptist "became strong in spirit" and that Jesus "became strong." This does not mean they had really big muscles! It means they became strong in their understanding and judgment. They had resolve. Now someone that has resolve is someone who knows what is right and does it. Like Jesus when He stayed behind in Jerusalem when he was 12 years old. His mother and father told him to come with them and He did. But it was also right for Him to speak in the temple. He did both - because He had resolve.
I knew a boy that got tired of looking at all the trash on the streets near his home. One day he took his wagon and went around the block picking up garbage. He had resolve - he acted on what he believed.
There may be times in your young life when you will have to stand up to your friends when they want to do the wrong thing. You may have to speak seriously with your mom or dad when they sin. You may have to cut something out of your life that you really love. Who knows? Just because you are a child does not mean that you have to be weak!
Be strong in your understanding and your resolve! If you don't understand a part of the bible, don't be happy until you figure it out! Be strong in your character. Work at improving your patience, kindness, gentleness and ask your mom and dad to help you at it.
David was still a boy when he killed a real giant. He was strong in his understanding - he knew God. He was strong in his character - he was offended by sin. He was strong in his resolve - he called out to that giant and ran toward him to kill him!
You can be like that, too.
3. Become Wise!
Two times in the Bible we are told that Jesus "increased in wisdom." Of course, Jesus was totally different than you and me since he had no sin. Still he had to grow in wisdom - as His body and mind grew so did His wisdom.
We are different. Proverb 22:15 says, "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child." We were both born with a problem called sin. It is tangled up in all that we are. When Solomon talks about a fool in Proverbs, he is talking about the kind of person who lives like God is not real. He lies, cheats, steals and is mean to others all because foolishness is tied up in his heart like a tangled up kite string.
How are you to get this foolishness out? The only answer is to replace it with wisdom. You have got to read your Bible, think about it when you are not reading it and seek to live out what it says day to day. This is your only hope to getting the foolishness in you rooted out.
4. Please People!
King Saul was a people-pleaser. He decided what to do only after he was sure everyone around him would like it! Don't be like him. You will never make everyone happy and you will worry more about others than God. A very big mistake!
King David, on the other hand, was quite the opposite. He always tried to do what was right, even if it made the people around him angry or hurt. The result was that most people loved David. They knew he could be trusted and that he was not doing things for his own selfish reasons. He lived for the Lord.
Jesus and Samuel both "grew in favour with men." Even as boys, people looked on these two with a smile. Have you ever heard this poem before:
The Boy We Want
A boy that is truthful and honest
And faithful and willing to work;
But we have not a place that we care to disgrace
with a boy that is ready to shirk.
Wanted--a boy you can tie to,
A boy that is trusty and true,
A boy that is good to old people,
And kind to the little ones too.
A boy that is nice to the home folks,
And pleasant to sister and brother,
A boy who will try when things go awry
To be helpful to father and mother.
These are the boys we depend on--
Our hope for the future, and then
Grave problems of state and the world's work await
Such boys when they grow to be men.
One of the fruits of being strong and wise is that God will bless you in the eyes of men. (Most men, that is.)
Some kids think they are only doing well if all the grown-ups are mad at them! That is a rather silly goal. Instead, why not try to live a life that grown-ups smile at? This does not mean that you have to be some kind of mamby-pamby pushover that never makes a peep!
Young Charles Spurgeon, when only 11 years old, once marched into a tavern to rebuke a drunken and sinning church member! "You should be ashamed!" he pronounced, then quickly turned and left. The man repented that very day because Charles stood for the Truth before God and before men. You can do the same!
5. Please God!
Even more important than pleasing the people around you is pleasing the God who never sleeps! Samuel and Jesus both "grew in favour with God." God was pleased with them - even as children!
What pleases God? A lot of things - but here are a few:
- Having faith in Him (Hebrews 11:6)
- Praying for leaders and all kinds of people (1 Timothy 2:3)
- Living a life worthy of Jesus' Name (Colossians 1:10)
- Caring for widows in your family (1 Timothy 5:14)
- Giving a sacrificial gift (Philippians 4:18)
- Working for Jesus in your work (Ephesians 6:6)
- Obeying the Holy Spirit and His leading (Romans 8)
- Doing good and sharing (Hebrews 13:16)
- Trying to figure out what pleases Him! (Ephesians 5:10)
But perhaps the things that please God the most in children is when they obey their parents (Colossians 3:20 "Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.") And I know that you obey your parents PERFECTLY and ALL THE TIME. right?
And that is why we need the last goal most of all.
6. Seek Jesus!
Luke tells us that even as a boy, "the grace of God was upon" Jesus. Since Jesus is God's holy and only Son, that grace never left Him. And there are some ways that God's grace never leaves you, either. You have a family, home, life, church, free country - all of these things are ways God is gracious to you.
But you need more grace. Special grace! Saving grace!
Imagine coming to church one day and me walking up to you and giving you $803,456.00 - for NO REASON! Just a gift. a present. for you to do whatever you like with! At Christmas you get presents, don't you? Do you deserve them? Is there some law that says, "Billy Jones shall always be given a present at his birthday and two at Christmas?" Of course not! Nobody owes you these things - they are a free gift.
That is what salvation is, too. It is a free gift... a "grace." It is free since it is from God and you cannot possibly pay Him back!
You need this grace ("present") most of all.
When I was 14 years old the Lord gave me this gift. I had gotten lots of presents before this one - video games, legos, a bike, even the Big Jim Rescue Rig! But none of these were even half as good as receiving Jesus!
The good news is that you do not have to wait until you are 14 to be saved. God can save you today, no matter how old you are, if only you stop trusting in yourself and start trusting in Jesus alone for eternal life.
I know that you want to honour God with your life and that is why I will keep praying for you that you will Grow Up! Get Strong! Become Wise! Please People! Please God! But don't be fooled. you will never be able to truly do all these things until He gives you a new heart. So, start at the end of the list and work backwards! Start asking Jesus to save you - beg Him to be gracious to you. And then, once He has rescued from the penalty of your sins, start living for Him and seeking all these things with all your heart.
Thanks for reading all this. Please contact me if you have any questions and I will try to answer you quickly!
With Great Love,