You Don’t Have To Wait ‘Til You’re Older (To Shine For Jesus)!
-Main Point #1: God Made You for Greatness
My friends, Jesus wants all of us to be like Him. Jesus is not for the spiritual elite, the super cool, or the privileged few—He is for everyone…
…And He is inviting you to become someone greater than you ever imagined
He is inviting you to be a part of an adventure more amazing than your wildest dreams…
…If you will admit that you need Him,
if you will accept Him for who He says He is (God & Savior), &
if you will follow Him wherever He leads each and every day.
He has made you for greatness, and He will make you great if you let Him!
This is the first point I want to make, and the second and final point is this:
-Main Point #2: You Don’t Have to Wait Until You Are Older to Follow Jesus and Be Great
Right now, some of you might be thinking one of two thoughts. You might be thinking:
1. That’s great, sounds nice. God made me for greatness. Cool. But I’m too young. I’m just a kid. I can barely remember to finish my homework on time and bring all of my books to class! I can barely keep my room clean, and you’re telling me God made me for greatness. I’m just not ready yet.
Or you might be thinking:
2. Whoa—slow down there tiger. I’m just a kid. I don’t want to be following Jesus for greatness right now. I’ll have plenty of time to do that later. Right now I just want to enjoy being a kid—having my Mom cook my dinner, pack my lunch, & do my laundry, having my parents and teachers always remind me what to do, doing as little chores as possible at home without getting grounded, playing as many video games as possible without getting seizures, eating as much junk food as possible without having a heart attack, hanging out with the people I already know and am already comfortable with, & going to church each week to make my parents happy without having to actually obey Jesus by
loving others who are jerks,
serving others who are annoying,
sharing with others who are needy,
forgiving others who are mean, &
asking God and others to forgive me.
Just let me be a kid now & I’ll follow Jesus for greatness later…tomorrow…eventually…for sure.
That’s what some of you might be thinking.
But let’s open up the Bible—the very Word of God Himself—to see what God has to say about what He expects of young people.
-Scripture: 1 Timothy 4:11-12 (NIV)
In these two short verses, the Apostle Paul is giving instructions to a young friend of his named Timothy. Here Paul writes to his young friend:
“Command and teach these things. Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity.”
Wow. That’s crazy. Is that really in the Bible? Let’s read that again…
-Question: So what is Paul saying to his young friend Timothy in these verses?
God wants you young people to set an example for other followers of Jesus—including
-Question: What does it mean to set an example for someone?
To be the model—the standard—the one that others copy…To set an example means to teach others to do something through your actions by showing them how to do it.
-Illustration: Coaches teach you a sport by using their words and their actions.
For example, if a coach is teaching you to shoot a basketball, the coach starts off by telling you what to do with your feet, how to position your body, how to hold the ball, and how to release it towards the basket with the highest probability of making the shot. The coach is using words here—very important. But then the coach will usually say something like, “Let me show you” and will proceed to shoot the basketball, making sure to do everything he or she just taught you. The coaching is using actions here—this is setting an example.
This is what God wants you young people to do for others who also love Jesus.
But wait—there’s one more important thing to understand here.
-Question: What makes a person become a coach, a person who teaches others how to do something? Why do certain people get to be coaches?
That’s right: because they’re skilled/talented at what they’re teaching…they’re usually better at doing that thing than the other people.
Do you see the connection here my friends?
God wants you to set the example for adults in following Jesus…Because in many ways you’re better at this than we are!
God wants adults to learn from you…Because with the Holy Spirit in your heart you have all the skills, talents, and tools needed…to love Jesus, follow Jesus, love others for Jesus, and be like Jesus!
And you can be so good at this that others—including adults—can learn from you by your example!
-Illustration: Jesus and the Little Children
I am not making this up, my friends—hard as it may seem to believe. You see, many people in the world like to teach young people—especially junior high and high school students—that you are not very good at much, that you have to wait until you become an adult to make an impact in the world. Some people say you’re clumsy, uncoordinated, immature, irresponsible, inexperienced, unmotivated, unimpressed, and unreliable. Some people say teens are too selfish—too focused on yourselves—to make any impact in the world by loving God and loving others.
That’s what some adults say…
But that’s not what Jesus—the Voice of Truth and your Creator—says. Listen to His statements:
-Scripture: Matthew 18:3-4, 19:4, Mark 10:15 (NIV)
“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
“Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’”
“I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
Wow!!! Those are some strong words for Jesus showing just how much we adults can learn from you! And In my short life I have seen Jesus’ words here to be true. Very often, young children are better than adults at:
-sharing with those who have only a little
-accepting others who are different
-including others who are new
-forgiving those who offend
-comforting those in pain
-enjoying Jesus and life
-resting (children often sleep better than adults!)
You are more skilled and talented at knowing Jesus and being like Him than you realize…And the Bible is filled with accounts of God doing great things through young people:
(Side note: I am going to quickly bring up a few big stories from the Bible about God doing great things through young people. If you are not familiar with one or more of these stories, read your Bible!!! This is good stuff here! And if you are familiar with them, pick up your Bible and read them again—you will almost always learn something new…)
Who can forget the stories of:
Samuel, who served God and whom God spoke to as a small boy! God began training him from birth, and Samuel went on to be a great man of God who chose David as King of Israel?
David and Goliath, when a young, small, and unnoticed shepherd boy killed a great giant of a warrior with an accurate sling shot and a powerful faith in God when none of the adult warriors were brave enough?
Daniel, who, when dragged off to a strange land as a teenager, boldly chose to obey God (even though his parents weren’t looking over his shoulder to make sure he obeyed) by refusing to eat the food of royal Babylon?
Esther, who as a young woman rose to become queen of Persia, the greatest empire in the world at that time? Not only did she become queen, she showed bravery, courage, a sacrificial love for others, and an impressive faith in God to risk her life to save her people.
Mary, who as young as fourteen years of age was chosen by God the Father to give birth to Jesus, God the Son, and raise Him as His earthly mother?
The Little Boy who chose to share all of his food with Jesus, Who then took that small gift and used it to feed thousands, up to 15,000 people? (I have trouble sharing my Cheetos or my dessert…)
Jesus Himself, who at the young age of twelve amazed the learned teachers of the temple with His questions, understanding, and answers? He even chose to obey His parents, even though He was God!
My young friends, the question is not whether you are ready to learn to
Be like Jesus,
& Do great things for Jesus.
You can, and you are ready!
The real question is…
…will you teach us?
…will you show us?
…will you set the example for us?
Will you choose to stay in childhood as long as possible so that others can serve you as much as possible, so that you can relax as much as possible, so that you can stay safe as long as possible?
Or will you choose to follow Jesus on His great adventure by setting an example for other Christians by:
(SPEECH) 1. Using Words of Kindness, Love, and Encouragement (e.g. Complimenting a student’s outfit, Writing a thank you note to your parents, Thanking the person at the grocery store for bagging your food, Telling the waitress at a restaurant what a good job they’re doing)?
(LIFE) 2. Showing People How Much Jesus Loves Them by How You Treat Them (e.g. Sharing your room/stuff with your younger siblings,Volunteering for a service project in your neighborhood, Obeying your parents the first time they ask you to do something, Inviting a person to hang out with you even though they are mean to you, weird, or new)?
(LOVE) 3. Choosing to Love Others Even When They Don’t Deserve It (e.g. Praying for people who make fun of you, Sharing with your siblings when they annoy you, Respecting your parents when they treat you unfairly)?
(FAITH) 4. Trusting in Jesus Even Though You Can’t See Him and Even When It’s Hard (e.g. Choosing not to cheat on a test when you forgot to study, Telling the truth even though it will get you in trouble, Being yourself even when being fake will get you more friends and popularity)?
(PURITY) 5. Saying Yes to Jesus and No to the Ways of the World (e.g. Choosing to be good, even when being bad is cool, Choosing not to watch or listen to bad stuff on t.v. or in music, Choosing to wear modest clothes even though others get more attention with skimpy clothes, Choosing to read the Bible for ten minutes even though you would rather spend more time texting your friends)?
This is exactly the meaning of those verses that Paul wrote to his young friend Timothy.
Let’s close by reading them one more time in a different translation:
Scripture: 1 Timothy 4:11-12 (NLT)
“Teach these things and insist that everyone learn them. Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in
what you say,
in the way you live,
in your love,
and your purity.”
Now this is difficult! How do I do this, you ask?
1. By asking Jesus everyday to help us—He wasn’t kidding when He said, “Without Me you can do nothing.” And Paul wasn’t kidding when he said, “I can do all things through Jesus who gives me strength.”
2. By practicing this in the small things, each and every day, no matter how many times you mess up and get it wrong…Jesus will help you—He promised!!!
You were made for greatness—to know Jesus, to be like Him & to do great things for Him.
You don’t have to wait until you’re older…
…We adults are old enough already…
…We’re waiting for you to teach us right now.