Lessons from a Teenager

“We are not the future of the church; we are the church.” This was said by one of the most encouraging young persons that I know, and behind these words are found some deep truths that we must remember. Young people have such an influence on those around them. Their peers, their friends, their families, and even those older than them see their qualities and note their characteristics. Young people are not just the church of the future, but they actually play an im-portant role in the church presently. Paul wrote to the young preacher Timothy, telling him not to let anyone despise his youth (1 Timothy 4:12). Young people are vital and essential to the church’s growth, and we should not disregard their work, influence, character, and example. One of the greatest examples of a young person’s faithfulness is found in Daniel 1:8, with the young teenager Daniel. At this time, Daniel is likely around fifteen years old and has been taken into Babylonian Captivity. Is it even possible that from a young teenager, we are able to learn some eternal truths? As one preacher said, “absolutely positively!”
Daniel shows us that he knew right from wrong at an early age.1 It is essential that parents teach their children the difference between right and wrong (Deuteronomy 6:7; Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4). Mr. and Mrs. Daniel are to be given props for their teaching, as are all parents who bring their children up in the ways of the Lord. Interestingly, Timothy was taught the Scriptures while he was a young baby (2 Timothy 3:15), and our Lord was but twelve years old when he astonished the doctors (Luke 2:42, 46-47). Secularly, Daniel should not have wasted his time with such fallacious fallacies. Instead, he should have been playing, jumping, enjoying life, and being a child. However, despite his age, he was already knowledgeable enough to know the difference between right and wrong. He knew that the king’s meat was not to be par-taken of by a Jew. He knew that he would have defiled himself if he were to take part in this worldly dish. How did he know this? Through the reading of the Law of Moses. Daniel was able to differentiate sin and keep himself pure. Are we studied in the Scriptures to know the who, what, when, where, why, and how of sin? If not, O brother and sister, beware!
Daniel shows us that refusal must be cuffed with kindness. The word “requested” shows this very important truth. Daniel did not run out in anger because of what they were offering, nor did he curse and shout at the prince of the eunuchs. Instead, he requested that this provision be lifted and that he would be allowed to partake of some-thing else. We should never tolerate sin and refuse every time Satan offers us its’ delicious dish. We must remember that it is possible to reject sin without sinning ourselves. Notice that Daniel had a reputation to hold, and it would have been ruined if he had sinned (c.f. Proverbs 22:1; Titus 2:8; 1 Peter 3:16). Instead of answering with anger, he answered with patience, something of which all of us could use more. Remember, kindness is a link to faithfulness (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:12; c.f. 2 Peter 1:7).
Daniel shows us that preparation should precede the situation. “He who fails to plan is planning to fail” (Winston Churchill). When it comes to planning, it is essential that people do so, else things will not get done. Dan-iel did not fail to plan. He knew the Law, so he did not sin (Psalm 119:11). We must prepare ourselves for the coming temptations of sin. Sin will come, but if we are not armed (Ephesians 6:11-17), we will be killed. If we do not prepare, we may end up being like unprepared Uzzah (2 Samuel 6) instead of a developed Daniel.
It is true that young people look up to older people. In fact, Scripture teaches numerously that the older generation is to instruct the younger (c.f. Deuteronomy 6:7; Titus 2). But, it is also true that the older can be encour-aged by the younger. Let us encourage our youth, be an example to all, and open our hearts, for we might learn a few things from those much younger.
1Webster, Allen. Bible marking idea, MSOP “Daniel class notes,” 2022.