January 28th 2019
When we are teens or youth, the consequences of our errors, wrongdoings, and selfishness are felt far less than when we’re grown up. This is a major reason why we should seek the Lord in the days of our youth.
So, consider a 45-year-old individual in a position of authority affecting the destinies of many others. (By destinies, in this instance, I only refer to responsibilities in an office setting: in the engagement of labour, and which naturally affects families.) Let’s say this middle aged person recently came to the Lord and is a young Christian struggling with issues of unforgiveness, bearing grudges, offense, sulking, and temper tantrums – in whatever way they manifest. Picture this authority figure becoming offended. It can cost someone a job, result in someone’s family breakdown, influence bad legal policies that affect whole people groups, and so many other things! And how easily can these be resolved? The greater the damage we cause, the lesser the chances of acknowledging or rectifying it.
However, as a teenager or young adult who fell to the temptation to be offended, the most that can happen (in a church, office or residential setting) is that there’ll be silence and animosity in existence between these young people for a while, until it is resolved. There’s no huge foreseeable impact that we can say young people will have on themselves other than emotional distress.
The more advanced you are, with regard to age, position and career, the greater the effect of your offense, if not properly dealt with. So, let’s say someone got offended, and he ought to have given a contract to a Christian brother, but he says, “No, we can’t trust this brother anymore,” and grants it to someone else – anybody – rather than that brother. The pain the brother feels for not being allowed to do the N10 million job he bid for (and probably deserved) will take so much longer to be healed, and the offense will be much harder to forgive. It should not be, but it will be, because it involves money. Perhaps this other brother had worked hard and prepared himself to take this contract, and was supposed to use it and better his life – maybe he had even gone into debt with the certainty that his brother in the Lord was going to give him the contract – and suddenly, he’s left out in the cold. As the Scriptures say in Proverbs 18:19, “A brother offended is harder to win back than a barricaded city.” The chances of a major relational disaster are higher and will take a miracle to heal.
Another example: let’s say it’s a lust issue involving people’s spouses. It’s enough to make people leave cities, move to different towns – all that. Let’s say it’s an anger matter, then, you have a scenario where grownups are shouting at each other, (maybe even only one person is shouting). There’ll be some reputational damage. What grave damage can come to a young person’s reputation from being screamed at? What about a father or mother that was being screamed at in public? How is he/she going to be healed? What their children saw, what was heard – how is it going to be explained? The fallout from that – the collateral damage – is so much higher with grownups.
So, in every way one could possibly think of, it is far worse when people are grown up and going through the things that young Christians go through. The presumption is that because they are older (physically), they ought to have more sense and display more mature responses. But, truth be told, if they were worldly unbelievers, they’re still worldly immediately after they get born again. After they get saved, they’re still typically thinking of saving their skin.
When people are younger, they think of saving their skin from getting into trouble, being selfish and eating something they have alone; not sharing some commodity or triviality – some trinket, or money they have. And how much can they have? Two thousand naira? Five? Ten? And they were selfish with ten thousand naira as regards another person’s state of hunger. But what happens when someone has hundreds of thousands or millions of naira, and is selfish? The other person really feels it. He might say (or more likely think): “How could you be so selfish? How could you have four cars, and I have none, and you see me every day but you don’t think you could do away with one? I mean, you’ve given one to your first son to drive. He’s driving around town, and picking me up on the road. But I have a family of four, and it hasn’t occurred to you that you ought to give me a car rather than to keep buying new ones for your family members!”
So, the effect of that older person’s selfishness will be felt much more deeply. The older people go through these same things – offense, lust, anger, selfishness, and so on. They come to know the Lord later, when they’re 25, 30, 35, 40 and above, and they keep displaying these things – self-protection. They tell lies; they’ve been lying all their life. A young person tells a lie, and it’s a lie about their not having done something they actually did. Then a grownup tells a lie, and everyone feels it more. The consequences are greater because the matters they are involved in are greater. Let’s say a person saw a wrong thing being done, and is asked, “Who did this?” This young person is a new Christian, and is too scared to tell the truth, so he may say: “I don’t know anything about it.” But if an older person gives the same response, covering up the truth and later on the truth comes out; the result is way nastier.
I just thought to put down these thoughts, that it’s really the truth when scriptures say in Ecclesiastes 12:1, “Remember the Lord in the days of your youth.” As usual, the wisdom of God stands. Like Timothy, it should be said of us that from childhood we have known the Holy Scriptures which are able to make us wise unto salvation (2 Timothy 3:15).
God bless you.