Let No One Despise Our Youth


Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 108; 150, 1 Kings 8:22-30 (31-40), 1 Timothy 4:7b-16, John 8:47-59

Did you know millennials are responsible for social ills from the closing of chain restaurants to the end of free speech on college campuses? At least that’s what some pundits, questionable social critics, and click-baiting media sources would have us believe. Older generations have always lamented the lack of values, morals, and responsibilities of younger ones. They look back to the times in which they were at the height of their vigor and become nostalgic for them less for their reality and more for the feelings they revive.

In his first letter to Timothy, Paul advised his young protégé to “let no one despise your youth.” Paul understood people, so he understood we’ll use any flaw we find in a messenger to dismiss a message that causes us discomfort. In fairness young people often lack experience that they can’t understand they lack, but they can also have experiences their elders have not. In Timothy’s case, this was the experience of living the Gospel. If Timothy wanted to be successful, Paul suggested he would have to be nearly flawless in his example and teachings for people to take him seriously.

When we harp on the flaws of younger generations, what are we really commenting on? Each generation is a product of the ones which preceded it. Perhaps we don’t like being reminded we are in part responsible for what we perceive as deficiencies. And maybe some of our complaints – for instance, how kids today have it too easy (and what generation hasn’t said that about the next?) – come from a place of jealousy or resentment.

Does every generation have its quirks and flaws? Yes. But it also does some things better and smarter. Human rights, for instance, have a steady record of improvement with each generation. And though it may not feel so because of the seemingly inescapable 24-hour news cycle, the world is becoming a less violent place.

If we let them, young people have much to teach us about the world and ourselves. It won’t always be something we want to hear. But why miss something we need to?

Comfort: We don’t need to be young to learn. 

Challenge: Make a habit of getting to know and listen to younger people.

Prayer: Eternal God, help me to always teach and be willing to learn the eternal values taught to us by Christ. Amen. 

Discussion: What have you learned from people younger than yourself?

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