A godless world presses in to win our hearts and we often struggle to find points of reference for moral judgment.
Father God, fill me with courage and the needed strength for sound thought and godly living.
1 Timothy 3:14-4:5
Consider: "Our faith is not life-denying but life-enhancing, even though the path of discipleship is a narrow way. While recognizing the impact of sin, we also recognize the redeeming effect of grace (4:4)" (Colin Sinclair).
A recent study of the morality of young people concluded that today's youth are lacking parameters from which to judge right from wrong. A youth becomes a young adult with no points of reference for moral judgment. The culture has erased all vestiges of truth. There is an ill-intentioned world out there seeking to confuse the minds and steal the souls of young people (4:1-3). The forces contrary to the Gospel take advantage of powerful means, such as entertainment and academia. If parents or churches say anything to the contrary, they are accused of being intolerant, outdated, and irrelevant.
The apostle Paul distinguishes between the community that belongs to God (3:14-16) and the system that is antagonistic to God's truth (4:1-3). Having consistency between belief and behavior comes when a self-disciplined person remains in one of the two systems (14-15). The Christian life is not a set of behaviors imposed by a prophet or celebrity. The Gospel requires an open and active mind that considers the teachings of Jesus and seeks constantly to live them out. The Gospel requires a self-disciplined person who will consider the possibilities and follow them; God will not come to "make us do it."
Paul says that there is an expectation of "how people ought to conduct themselves in God's household" (15). The church should help its members to understand and apply these principles. This lifestyle is called "true godliness" (16). If anyone desires to achieve "true godliness," that person must desire and seek to have Jesus Christ at the center of his or her life and have the teachings of the Gospel to live by. Here is the source from which the Christian lifestyle "springs" (16). Deception and confusion emerge when a person attempts to keep the culture and ideologies on the same level as the Gospel.
How is your church preparing the younger generation to face the challenges in the surrounding culture?
Holy Lord, children, youth, adults--we are all at risk. A godless world presses in to win our hearts. I pray for myself, my family, and my church to stand firm for You and Your ways.