“We received . . . the spirit that is from God, so that we might know the things that have been kindly given us by God.”—1 COR. 2:12.
1. What common view is sometimes expressed?
MANY people have heard this thought expressed: ‘You don’t appreciate what you have until it’s gone.’ Have you sometimes felt that way? When one has had things from childhood, there is a tendency not to appreciate them fully. For example, a person who grows up in a wealthy household may take for granted many of the things he has. This can be the case with youths who because of a lack of experience may not yet fully discern what things in life are truly valuable.
2, 3. (a) Christian youths should be careful to avoid what? (b) What can help us to appreciate what we have?
2 If you are young, maybe in your teens or early 20’s, what is important to you? For many in the world, life revolves around material things—a good salary, a nice home, or the latest high-tech devices. However, if these are our only concerns, something important is missing—spiritual riches. Sadly, millions today have not even begun to look for these. You young ones who have been raised by Christian parents must be careful not to lose sight of the value of what you have received in the form of a spiritual inheritance. (Matt. 5:3) A lack of appreciation could result in sad consequences that might affect you for the rest of your life.
3 You, though, can prevent that from happening. What will help you to treasure your spiritual inheritance? Let us consider some Bible examples that can help us see why it is wise to value our spiritual inheritance. The examples we will consider can assist not only young people but every Christian to cherish what he or she has spiritually.
THEY LACKED APPRECIATION
4. What does 1 Samuel 8:1-5 reveal about Samuel’s sons?
4 We can find Bible accounts of some who received a rich spiritual heritage but failed to appreciate it. That was true in the family of one prophet, Samuel, who served Jehovah from a young age and had a fine record with God. (1 Sam. 12:1-5) Samuel set an example that his sons, Joel and Abijah, would have done well to imitate. However, they did not appreciate this, and they turned out to be bad. The Bible record tells us that unlike their father, they “perverted justice.”—Read 1 Samuel 8:1-5.
5, 6. How did things turn out with Josiah’s sons and grandson?
5 It was similar with King Josiah’s sons. Josiah set a superb example in worshipping Jehovah. When the book of God’s Law was found and read to Josiah, he made an earnest effort to apply Jehovah’s instructions. He worked to eliminate idolatry and spiritism from the land, and he encouraged the people to obey Jehovah. (2 Ki. 22:8; 23:2, 3, 12-15, 24, 25) What a rich spiritual inheritance his sons received! Three of his sons and one grandson in time became kings, but not one of them showed appreciation for what had been passed on to him.
6 Josiah’s son Jehoahaz succeeded him as king, but he did “what was bad in Jehovah’s eyes.” He ruled for only three months before an Egyptian Pharaoh imprisoned him, and Jehoahaz died in captivity. (2 Ki. 23:31-34) Then his brother Jehoiakim ruled for 11 years. He too lacked appreciation for what he had received from his father. Because of Jehoiakim’s bad course, Jeremiah prophesied about him: “With the burial of a donkey he will be buried.” (Jer. 22:17-19) Josiah’s other successors—his son Zedekiah and his grandson Jehoiachin—were no better; neither chose to follow Josiah’s upright ways.—2 Ki. 24:8, 9, 18, 19.
7, 8. (a) In what way did Solomon waste his spiritual heritage? (b) What lesson can we learn from Bible examples of ones who wasted their spiritual heritage?
7 Solomon was a king who received much from his father, David. Though Solomon came from an outstanding spiritual background and started out well, he later lost appreciation for the right way. “In Solomon’s old age, his wives inclined his heart to follow other gods, and his heart was not complete with Jehovah his God like the heart of David his father.” (1 Ki. 11:4) Consequently, Solomon lost Jehovah’s favor.
8 How sad to see that these men who had such a promising background and the opportunity to do what was right let it go to waste! Yet, not all young ones turned out that way in Bible times, nor do they today. Let us consider some positive examples of youths whom young Christians can imitate.
THEY APPRECIATED WHAT THEY HAD RECEIVED
9. How did Noah’s sons set an excellent example? (See opening image.)
9 We find an excellent example in Noah’s sons. Their father received the command to build an ark and to get his household into it. Noah’s sons evidently appreciated the need to do Jehovah’s will. They must have cooperated with their father. In time, they helped him build the ark, and then they went into it. (Gen. 7:1, 7) With what goal in mind? Genesis 7:3 says that they took animals into the ark “to preserve their offspring alive over all the earth.” Humans too were saved. Because Noah’s sons valued what they had received through their father, they had the privilege of helping to preserve the human race and reestablish true worship on a cleansed earth.—Gen. 8:20; 9:18, 19.
10. How did four young Hebrew men in Babylon show appreciation for the truths they had learned?
10 Centuries later, four young Hebrew men showed that they had learned what was really important. Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah, and Daniel were taken to Babylon in 617 B.C.E. They were good-looking, intelligent young men who could easily have just blended into the Babylonian way of life. But they did not. It is apparent from their actions that they remembered their heritage, what they had been taught. The four were richly blessed for adhering to the spiritual lessons they had learned when they were young.—Read Daniel 1:8, 11-15, 20.
11. How did others benefit from Jesus’ spiritual background?
11 Our consideration of good examples would not be complete without giving attention to Jesus, God’s Son. He received much from his Father, and he truly valued it. That appreciation for what he had been taught is evident in his words: “Just as the Father taught me, I speak these things.” (John 8:28) And it was his desire that others benefit from what he had received. He told the crowds: “I must also declare the good news of the Kingdom of God to other cities, because for this I was sent.” (Luke 4:18, 43) He helped his listeners to see the need for being “no part of the world,” which in general does not value spiritual things.—John 15:19.
APPRECIATE WHAT YOU HAVE RECEIVED
12. (a) How does 2 Timothy 3:14-17 apply to many youths today? (b) Christian youths should consider what questions?
12 Like the young men whom we have discussed, you too may have been raised by parents devoted to Jehovah God. If so, what the Scriptures say about Timothy may well fit your situation. (Read 2 Timothy 3:14-17.) It was from your parents that “you learned” about the true God and how to please him. Your parents may well have started teaching you from your infancy. This certainly has done much to make you “wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” and to help you to be “completely equipped” for God’s service. A key question now is, Will you show appreciation for what you have received? That may call on you to do some self-examination. Consider such questions as: ‘How do I feel about being part of the long line of faithful witnesses? How do I feel about being among the relatively few on earth today who are known by God? Do I appreciate what a unique and grand privilege it is to know the truth?’
13, 14. What temptation do some Christian youths face, but why would giving in to it be unwise? Give an example.
13 Some youths brought up by Christian parents may not see the stark contrast between our current spiritual paradise and Satan’s dark world. Some have even been tempted to see what life in the world is like. But would you run in front of a moving car just to find out how painful—and possibly fatal—that could be? Of course not! Similarly, there is no need for us to experience the “decadent course of debauchery” in this world just to discover how excruciatingly distressing that can be.—1 Pet. 4:4.
14 Gener, who lives in Asia, was raised in a Christian family. He got baptized at age 12. As a teenager, though, he became attracted to the ways of this world. He says: “I wanted to experience the ‘freedom’ the world offers.” Gener began to live a double life. By age 15, he had taken up some of the lifestyle of his bad companions. He was drinking and cursing like them. Gener often came home late, after playing billiards and violent computer games with his friends. However, as time passed, he began to realize that the attractions of this world were not truly satisfying. It was an empty way of life. He says about his coming back to the congregation: “There are many challenges that still confront me, but the blessings from Jehovah far outnumber them.”
15. Even young ones not raised by Christian parents should reflect on what?
15 Of course, there are other young ones associated with the congregation who were not raised by Christian parents. If you are one of them, think what a wonderful privilege you are now enjoying because you know and serve the Creator! There are billions of people on the earth. Thus, it is a real blessing to be among those whom Jehovah has kindly drawn to himself and to whom he has revealed Bible truth. (John 6:44, 45) Only about 1 in every 1,000 people alive today has an accurate knowledge of the truth, and you are one of them. Should that not give all of us, no matter how we learned the truth, cause for rejoicing? (Read 1 Corinthians 2:12.) Gener says: “My hair stands on end when I think about it. Who am I to be known by Jehovah, the Owner of the universe?” (Ps. 8:4) A Christian sister from the same area said: “Students feel very proud just to be recognized by their teacher. How much more of a privilege it is to be known by Jehovah, the Grand Instructor!”
WHAT WILL YOU DO?
16. What is a wise choice for Christian youths today?
16 Considering what a marvelous privilege you have, why not become ever more determined to be among the relatively few who have done the right thing with their life? In that way, you can join a long line of faithful servants of God. That is so much wiser than merely following the majority of youths who, as if in a stupor, march along with this world toward destruction.—2 Cor. 4:3, 4.
17-19. What can help you to have a balanced view of being different from the world?
17 That, of course, does not mean that being different from the world will always be easy. If you think about it, though, wisdom dictates that we be different. To illustrate: Think of an Olympic athlete. He no doubt had to be different to get to that level. He likely had to deny himself many things that would consume his time and attention, limiting how much he could train. On the other hand, his being willing to be different from his peers would allow him to train more and to reach his goal.
18 The world’s view of life is shortsighted. If you take a long-range view, being different from the world and abstaining from its morally and spiritually destructive activities, you will “get a firm hold on the real life.” (1 Tim. 6:19) The sister mentioned earlier says: “If you stand up for what you believe, you’ll really feel great at the end of the day. It will prove that you’ve got the strength to go against the flow of Satan’s world. Most of all, it’s as if you can see Jehovah God being proud of you and smiling at you! That’s when you feel good about being different!”
19 Life is futile if a person is focused solely on what he can get now. (Eccl. 9:2, 10) If you are a youth and you give serious thought to the purpose and possible duration of your life, is it not smart to avoid “walking just as the nations” do and instead live a truly meaningful life?—Eph. 4:17; Mal. 3:18.
20, 21. If we make the right decisions, for what do we put ourselves in line, but what is expected of us?
20 If we make the right decisions, we can have a satisfying life now and put ourselves in line to “inherit the earth”—to have everlasting life. There are so many wonderful blessings in store for us that we cannot even imagine them all. (Matt. 5:5; 19:29; 25:34) Granted, God does not give us things automatically. He requires something of us. (Read 1 John 5:3, 4.) But to serve him faithfully now is definitely worth it!
21 What a great privilege it is to have received so much from God! We have accurate knowledge of his Word and a clear understanding of the truth about him and his purposes. We enjoy the privilege of bearing his name and being his Witnesses. God promises us that he is on our side. (Ps. 118:7) May all of us, whether young or old, show our appreciation by living our life in a way that manifests a keen desire to give Jehovah “the glory forever.”—Rom. 11:33-36; Ps. 33:12.