“Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, ‘I have no pleasure in them’ ” (Ecclesiastes 12:1).

SOLOMON, A KING WHO WAS HARDLY NAIVE ABOUT WHAT THE WORLD HAS TO OFFER, COUNSELED THAT WE SHOULD REMEMBER OUR CREATOR WHILE WE ARE YOUNG. To defer dealing with God until we are out of our youth is a costly error. And if we’ve not yet decided whether we’re going to take God seriously, there is something we need to know: the question only gets tougher the longer we put off answering it. We’re only deceiving ourselves if we think we need to take care of more important matters first. There is no such thing as a more important matter than God.

Particularly in our youth, the thing that tempts us to postpone dealing with God is the myth that godliness requires us to give up all pleasure. Because the life of serious spirituality seems so dull, it’s only natural to defer doing anything about it until after we’ve drunk as deeply from the world as we want to drink. Our Adversary would like us to think that the only young folks who follow God are the losers who don’t know what they’re missing. But one of the saddest things about this myth is that it misrepresents a God who has never wanted anything but our good and who has never forbidden anything except what would hurt us or degrade us. We’d do well to go back and reconsider Ecclesiastes. The very God whom Solomon advised us to remember is also the God who said, “Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth” (Ecclesiastes 11:9).

Many of the reasons for taking a responsible approach to God in our youth are powerfully practical. One of the most practical (and also one of the most important) is that the basic shape of our personal character is set while we’re in our younger years. The ideal time to commit ourselves to godly principles and begin adjusting our lifestyles to those principles is when our minds and hearts are still open and we’ve not yet begun to suffer “hardening of the categories.” If we say no to God at the time when it is most crucial to say yes, it is not likely that our minds will be changed by anything later on — except circumstances that are truly tragic.

“If you refuse to be made straight when you are green, you will not be made straight when you are dry” (African Proverb).

Gary Henry — WordPoints.com + AreYouaChristian.com

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