Students are starting back to schools and colleges across the nation. Parents and educators alike are hopeful that this year will be the greatest year our young people have ever had academically, athletically, and socially. But the most important part of this year for every student is their spiritual growth.
The only description of the youthful years of Jesus records, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52). It is important to observe that in the list the greater is always listed first. A student’s relationship to God is primary…everything else grows out of that.
Recently I had the joy of speaking to a fine group of young people who were beginning a new school year. The group was made up of public school, private school, Christian school, and homeschool young people. The exciting thing about God’s Word is that it applies in every context!
In our study I shared with these young people one of God’s lists to live by, found in 1 Thessalonians 5. The book of 1 Thessalonians was written to remind believers that Jesus is coming again. The way to make the most of every year is to make the most of every day, and the way to make the most of every day is to live like it may the last day you live before you see Jesus.
Some day, some year, Jesus Christ will come again! (For the record, young people, if He comes now you won’t be disappointed. Everything He has planned for you in eternity will far exceed anything you will ever get to do on this earth!) Take this very practical passage of Scripture and seek to live by it each day. If you will, God will make this the greatest year of your life spiritually…
- Stay close to Christian friends.
“Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do” (5:11).
God’s people need one another! Spend time with people who help build your faith. Be an encouragement to others. Help to hold one another accountable.
- Keep a good relationship with spiritual authority.
“And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves” (5:12-13).
When people start to stray from God they usually begin to stay away from the spiritual leaders God has placed in their lives. Work to stay close to parents, pastors, youth leaders, and teachers who are trying to help you become everything God wants you to be.
- Minister to everyone you can.
“Now we exhort you, brethren, warn the unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men” (5:14)
In school you will cross paths with all kinds of people. Be a true friend – the kind that tells people what they need to hear in love. Encourage those who are discouraged. Stick up for the loner and befriend those who are mistreated. God can and will use you to make a difference in the lives of others.
- Respond right to conflict.
“See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men” (5:15).
Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, there will be conflict. Do not retaliate. Do not react in anger. Seek to be a peacemaker and to treat everyone with kindness.
- Keep your own heart happy in the Lord.
“Rejoice evermore” (5:16).
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But it is not always easy to stay joyful. The secret to joy is in beginning your day with the Lord and then recognizing His presence all day long. Spend time with God in His Word and take some Scripture with you to meditate on as you go about your responsibilities. Only His truth and His presence will give you lasting joy.
- Pray all through the day.
“Pray without ceasing” (5:17).
Pray over your lunch. Pray with friends. Pray before a test. Pray when you are tempted. Pray all the time! This is more than a habit – it is an attitude. How can you walk with God? Talk to Him throughout the day.
Begin today. Seek to apply these simple commands each day. By God’s grace and through your faithfulness this can be the greatest school year yet!
(Watch for part 2 of this list tomorrow at enjoyingthejourney.org.)