By Pastor Don Williams
I have seen many teenage boys and girls from Christian homes and good churches leave their goodly heritage and have broken their parent’s hearts.
I am very burdened for the young people of this generation. Who has their hearts? Just because they are growing up in a fundamental, Bible believing home is no guarantee that they will turn out for God.
Examples of this in Scripture:
- Adam and Eve raised a godly Abel, but also a murderous Cain.
- After the dramatic events of the worldwide flood and seeing God’s grace and mercy in sparing their lives, Noah had one son upon whom he had to pronounce a curse.
- Abraham had a godly, obedient Isaac and then an unbelieving Ishmael whose descendants continue to be bitter enemies of the Jews to this day.
- Isaac had twin boys. Jacob became the father of the 12 tribes of Israel while Esau became a profane man and his descendants also became enemies of God’s people.
- Samuel’s two sons, Joel and Abia, were made Judges in Israel, but they did not walk in the ways of their father, but went after money, took bribes and perverted judgment.
- David raised a wise, godly Solomon, but also a rebellious, treacherous Absalom.
- Hezekiah saw revival in his kingdom, but his son, Manasseh, become the most evil king in Judah’s history.
- Josiah also experienced a great revival in the kingdom of Judah during his reign, but his two sons, Jehoiakim and Zedekiah became evil kings in Judah.
How is it that godly men like Samuel, David and Josiah who had such a heart of devotion for God would have sons who went the opposite direction of their fathers? The answer is very simple. Somewhere along the line, their sons had given their hearts to someone else.
Solomon understood the importance of this and urged his son, Rehoboam to give him his heart. “My son, give me thine heart, and let thine heart observe my ways.” (Prov. 23:26) The point is that regardless of how godly and faithful parents may be, if they do not get the heart of their child, someone else will.
Back in the time of Joshua, something went drastically wrong with the hearts of the generation who came up after Joshua and his generation. According to Judges 2:10, as soon as Joshua and his generation died, the next generation, “knew not the Lord,” and went into gross idolatry and wickedness like the heathen around them. We would say they went to the world. They had given their hearts to other people and influences around them instead of to their parents and other godly leadership.
What about Samson? He was raised by two upright parents who sought a godly Jewish girl for him to marry, but he had already given his heart to a pagan Philistine girl. Over the course of time, Samson did not learn his lesson from this and kept giving his heart to pagan women. This resulted in his losing the blessing and power of God on his life and ultimately his own untimely, disgraceful death. This same thing happened with Isaac and Rebecca and their son Esau. They desired for Esau to marry amongst their own people, but he gave his heart to a pagan woman and broke his parents’ hearts.
Once a young person gives his heart away to his friends, girlfriend, personal ambitions or to this world, it is very difficult and well-nigh impossible to get it back. He has his mind made up and you might as well try to reason with a wall as to get anywhere with him.
THE PRODIGAL SON
Consider the Prodigal son from Luke 15. Undoubtedly, he had come from a good, solid home where he had loving parents who attempted to raise him right. He did not just suddenly announce to his father one day that he was leaving home and was demanding his share of the inheritance. Somewhere along the line, in the deep recesses of this young man’s heart, he began to become discontent with his parents and his home. He probably resented being told what to do and having restrictions in his life. Perhaps he did not think he was being treated fairly. The grass sure looked greener on the other side of the fence. We can only imagine his discontented thoughts, “Look at all the things I am missing. I am tired of being told what to do. This is my life and I am going to live it as I please.” This young man convinced himself that it was time for him to go out on his own. His heart was in the far country before he ever got there.
There is no neutrality when it comes to a person’s heart. Everyone gives his or her heart to something—whether good or bad.
On the spiritual level, every child of God owes his heart’s affections completely to God as we are admonished in Col. 3:1-2, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” We are admonished and reminded in Scripture to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind. This was David’s heart cry when he declared in Psalm 119:11, “With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.” Whenever we give our heart and affections to the things of this world, we are guilty of spiritual adultery. (James 4:4)
On the physical level, in regards to our relationship with others, every young person should keep his heart reserved for his parents. His parent’s friends should not have his heart. Neither should his friends, teachers, relatives, other Christians or any other person! Who had Absalom’s heart when he was in rebellion to his father David? It was his pagan grandfather, Talmai, the king of Geshur. (2 Sam. 13:37)
THE EXAMPLE OF THE GALATIAN BELIEVERS
The Apostle Paul addressed this matter of guarding one’s heart in his letter to the Galatian believers: “Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am; for I am as ye are: ye have not injured me at all. Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first. And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me. Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth? They zealously affect you, but not well; yea, they would exclude you, that ye might affect them. But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you.” (Gal. 4:12-18)
These Galatian believers were Paul’s children in the faith. He had won many of them to Christ and started churches in their province. He had a great love and concern for their welfare to the point where he said. “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you.” (Gal. 4:19) He wrote to them because they were being led astray by Jewish Judaizers who were perverting the Gospel by seeking to mix the Jewish law with the Gospel in order to be saved. The Judaizers were also teaching that a believer is made perfect by keeping the law.
There are two words that stand out in this passage in verse 17, “zealousy affect.” Zealously means to pursue, to busy oneself about or eagerness. Affect comes from a word that means to strive after, to earnestly desire. When putting these two words together, it means to “eagerly strive after.” One commentator has defined it this way, “to pay court to as a lover pays court to his lady.”
In other words, these Judaizers were zealously courting these Galatian believers and the Galatians were giving their hearts to them and being led astray. Paul said in verse 18 that “it is good to be zealously affected” or to be sought after or courted in a good thing. The point is that there are many things today that are eagerly seeking to court our attention and hearts. To whom we listen and follow will determine the direction we go in life!
*There are wrong influences that are seeking to court our attention:
That great deceiver, the angel of light, has many wiles to beguile us and to tempt us to do wrong or to go our own way. (1Peter 5:8)
Satan often works thru this world’s system to seduce us. He makes things in this world look very attractive and appealing like artificial lures to a fish. These allurements include the media and Hollywood with all the entertainment industry. Commercial television and movies fill our homes with a cesspool of vulgarity, immorality, humanism, profanity and all manner of ungodly, licentious things. The world’s music in its various styles has swept our homes, Christian colleges, and churches like a tidal wave.
The world’s dress styles and fashions have permeated Christianity today. It is shameful that men have to cover their eyes in the average Bible believing church today from the immodest, provocative, tight fitting and defrauding dress of many of the women. In spite of the internet being a valuable tool, its dangers are innumerable. It seems that many of God’s people are spending more time in front of a screen in texting, social networking or gaming than in the Word and prayer!
This world’s system is like a strong magnet that is constantly trying to pull us away from the path of righteousness. Remember Demas? He had given his heart to God for missions and was a great asset to Paul’s ministry, but he grew weary in well doing and his heart was drawn to this present world. He quit the ministry and as far as we know, spent the remainder of his days living for himself and this world. The same thing can happen to any one of us if we do not carefully guard our hearts.
C. Wrong Friends and Peer Pressure
Paul made this very clear when he warned the Corinthians that evil communications corrupt good manners. (1 Cor. 15:33) We always become like those with whom we spend time.
There will always be those who are ready and eager to aid a discontented young person from their strict parents. They will be there to “protect” him and rob his loyalty and heart affection away from his God ordained authority. This could be grandparents, other relatives (“Amnon had a friend” who happened to be his cousin), nosy neighbors or even other believers.
*There are good influences that are seeking to court our attention
A. Holy Spirit
The indwelling Spirit is there to teach us all things and to enable us to live a life that is pleasing and acceptable to the Lord. When we walk in the Spirit, we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. (Gal. 5:16)
B. Godly people
David declared in Psalm 119:63, “I am a companion of all those that fear thee.”
The pastor and church fellowship are there to help, encourage and admonish us to stay on the right way and to keep right with the Lord.
No good parents are going to sit idly by and watch their child head down a wrong path without doing all they can to stop him. There will be correction, reproof, heart to heart talks, tears, warnings and lots of prayer! Thank God for loving parents who are seeking to “zealously affect” their children in the right way.
YOU ARE BEING SOUGHT AFTER!
Who are you going to allow to court your heart and affections? To whom are you giving your loyalty? Who has your heart? It is up for grabs? God says that we are to keep our hearts with all diligence. This is no little matter! Your destiny depends on it.
A young person does not just fall into sin or suddenly announce to his parents that he is leaving to go on his own. It is a gradual process that begins in the mind and heart of that child long before it comes out into the open; and if left unchecked, will often result in full-blown rebellion. Once the heart is given away and the emotions are involved for an older teen, it is pretty much a lost cause to try to turn them around and to get their heart back. This obviously does not mean that we cannot try to restore them; but more often than not, that young person, who has given his heart and loyalty, has made up his mind—and you cannot even reason with him.
Praise the Lord for those who come back in repentance like the Prodigal son and are restored. But unfortunately, many never get reconciled with their parents or get right with God and end up with a shipwrecked life. This is why it is so essential for parents to reach the hearts of their children while they are young and then maintain that relationship through the teen and young adult years. It is an investment of your own heart, time and energy as you pour your life into the heart of your child to reach his heart.
Every young person has a big responsibility in all of this. He needs to guard his heart diligently and keep it reserved for God and his parents. Underminers, the world, friends, peers, relatives, other believers, boy/girl relationships and personal ambitions are all vying for every young heart.
You may be a believer and claim that you love the Lord, but does God have your heart? Are you diligently seeking after Him? You have parents who love you, pray for you and who are investing their lives into you. Have you given them your heart or is that heart of yours up for grabs for someone else to take?
It is very evident that Adam had Abel’s heart, that Abraham had Isaac’s heart, that Jacob had Joseph’s heart, that Elkanah and Hannah had Samuel’s heart and that Jesse had David’s heart. Look at the lives of each of these sons. They each had a glowing testimony for the Lord and were used by God. Why? It is because they had guarded hearts. Their hearts were not up for grabs for others to take.
Who has your heart?