Youth is the time of strength.
But youth is also the time of increasing independence. When a young man or woman reaches the period of full physical and mental development, he or she arrives at the moment of physical independence from father and mother.
Such a youth is ready and able to support himself financially. He can get a job and often bring down a bigger pay check than his father is at the moment receiving. With broader education and specialization in a particular field he may become completely independent of financial help of his father. In fact his parents may come to depend upon him for their life and sustenance. Father may be ill, unable to work a full day and take a heavy load upon his shoulders. Mother may need special medical treatment that costs far more than father can make. Without the help of the youth in the family who are now grown and employed, they could not get along.
O, but Young People, Covenant Youth, that does not mean that you are now their lord and master. This does not reverse the fifth commandment so that now they must honor you. It does not mean that while you are under their roof you may do as you please. And you do well to listen to their advice. You can do your own thinking now. You must do your own thinking now. You need not run to them to think for you. Many of your troubles you keep to yourself; and that is evidence that you have grown up. You do not come crying home to them every time that something injures you. You may even know better ways to perform the labors they continue to do in the old way. But you better listen to them when they give you spiritual advice. Your financial independence and their financial dependence upon you does not mean that now you may ignore their admonitions and warnings, their exhortations and instructions. Your ability to think for yourselves does not mean that you no longer need the thought that years of experience have given them. Rejoice in the days of your youth; but for all these things remember that God will bring you into judgment.
Having warned the youth of God’s church in regard to these matters Solomon proceeds in the next chapter of Ecclesiastes to point out that days will soon be here when this same youth will say of his days, “I have no pleasure in them.” And this does not come a day or two before he dies. Solomon speaks of years also in which that once vibrant, independent youth shall be sick and weak, shall be carried about and be dependent upon a generation or two younger than he is. For a detailed treatment of this matter see our series of articles under the heading, Youth, Remember, appearing in Volume 38, the issue of March 1, 1962, page 255. Step by step Solomon traces the deterioration of that once strong man and points out the dependency and shortcomings of this once independent son and daughter. We simply, at this time, wish to point out that this whole process of deterioration, this whole sclerosis-pattern is an indication of the fact that man goes to his long home. It is the process of death!
And therefore the whole process is there because of sin. The wages of sin is death. All these sicknesses and diseases, hardening of the arteries, deterioration of the muscles and nerves, all this impaired hearing and sight, all this loss of energy and enthusiasm, this lethargy and sleeplessness is here because of sin and is a shadow of death. Death casts its shadow over us already in the cradle. And all that temporary strength and beauty of youth does not deny it. Wise Solomon warns against taking the stand that momentary strength and beauty deny sin and its wages, death. Solomon repeatedly warns you that all is vanity. We need strength for a little while. According to God’s counsel there is work we must do, and for it we need a little strength for a little while. The church of today must also bring forth the church of tomorrow. Elect children of Zion must yet be born, cared for, brought up in the fear of God’s name, taught and trained. That does take days and years of strength. And there may be a little earthly beauty as a reflection of the glory of God Himself Who made us in His own image. But do not let it deceive you. Do not let it turn your eyes away from the fact that it will soon fade and in the end require burial and hiding from the eyes (and nose) of man. We all go to our long home. The moment we are born, we are on the way to the grave. There is nothing more certain in life than death.
And all this is here because of sin, sin, SIN! Rejoice then, O young man and young woman; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the way of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes. But remember that for this God will call you into judgment. Yea, and remember that by nature your heart is under the power of sin. By nature your eye picks the way of Sin. And for these God will bring you into judgment! Your heart is the center of your being from a spiritual point of view. Even as every drop of blood that brings the necessities of life to every cell of your body is sent there by your heart, so from out of your heart as the spiritual center of your being comes every thought and desire, motive and purpose to every member and cell of your body. And a corrupt1 heart will corrupt every part of your being. It stands behind the evil eye, the filthy tongue, the cruel hand, the godless mind and carnal will. Out of the heart are all the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23. That is why the psalmist says in Psalm 15:1, 2 that the man who speaketh the truth in his heart will abide in God’s house. If the heart beats right, the rest of the body Gil walk in good works. When the heart speaks the lie, the members live in sin. Thus when the Swiss movement in your watch speaks the truth, the hands will indicate correct time. But the hands of your watch can never be reliable and serve you with the correct time when the mechanism, the heart behind the face, does not speak the truth.
Because that heart is by nature corrupt, the way that heart chooses will be the way of sin. Because that heart is corrupt by nature, the way of the eyes is always the way of unrighteousness. And by the eyes Solomon means all of the faculties of sensation in man. Sight is the chiefest of these faculties. But we also hear, smell, taste and feel. However we should not underestimate how greatly we are drawn to the world and its vanities by means of the eyes. At any rate it is through the eye that the corrupt heart reaches out into the world; and because the heart is evil, the way of the eye is also evil. When you walk then in the way of your heart and the way of your eye, you will walk a way that God judges to be worthy of death and hell.
O, that does not mean that you are going to be guilty of violence, of murder and cruelty. It does not necessarily mean that your walk is going to be one of open immorality and sexual perverseness. It does not mean that you will of necessity become profane and blasphemous in your speech. Outwardly you may still behave in a very “refined” way. To the eyes of men you may still seem to be a Christian young man or woman. But it does mean that you will seek the world and its deceiving treasures and pleasures. You will find no time to study God’s Word. Your catechism lessons are neglected and at best given a five or ten minute cramming in benefit. You will fail to prepare yourself for the Sabbath, keep late hours Saturday night and every night of the week: so that in church on Sunday you sleep through the whole sermon. The week is so filled with the sins of the flesh and the activities of the world that you cannot stay awake to worship and hear what the Spirit hath to say to the churches.
And because you go the way of your eyes you squander your pay check on the amusements and pleasures of the world. You have but a dime or a quarter for the church budget per week but free and ready money for pleasure and fun. You fall for the young men and young women of the world because you go in the way of your eyes and not in the way of faith. You enjoy the company of infidels and blasphemers. You can tolerate their cursing and swearing, their blasphemy and irreligious behavior because they have a beautiful face or a flashy sports coupe. You never speak of your faith. You hide your religion as Queen Esther hid hers in order to walk in the way of her eyes and become the queen in a godless nation. You hurt no one. You do nothing for which the police can apprehend you. But you sin against the living God.
You approve of what He condemns. You call cute what He calls corrupt. You love what He hates. You run after that which He casts from Himself as evil and godless. You want nothing distinct, even though He has set you aside as His peculiar people. You must dress and paint and speak as the world. Or else you must insist on these things in others and call “squares” all who refuse to walk that way of the world. And sometimes even you behave as though you think that it is worth going to hell to enjoy these fleeting treasures for a few brief moments. You rejoice, but you rejoice in wickedness. You walk, but in the way of a perverse heart and a filthy eye.
But know, that for all these God will bring you into judgment. That is right! He will bring young men and women into judgment as well as their fathers and mothers. When a group of children mocked His servant Elisha and called to him, “Go up thou bald head, go up,” God brought these children into judgment. And two she bears were sent by Him out of the woods to tear in pieces forty and three of these children. When the measure of iniquity was full in the land of Canaan, God sent His people in to possess their land and they slew men, women and children. Sin is sin whether it is committed by children or by adults, by young men and young women or by old men and old women. And listen, Covenant Youth, you consider yourselves to be your parents equal. Physically you are their match; and even as they are independent, you have attained also to independency. Indeed, but for that very reason you ought to concede that God will also deal with you as He does with them. He will bring you into judgment.
Walk then in the way of His fear. Let your heart dictate that way. And then you will have no fear when you are brought into judgment.