This article was written by David Sanford.
Vitality, energy, and nerve. Teenagers have it, and adults either criticize or envy you for it. But the teen years aren’t just about pep assemblies and game nights. Teens face life-shaping trials, decisions, and confrontations.
Christian teenagers are in the midst of making choices concerning self-confidence, possessions, dancing, purity, gossip, friendships, and more.So what do you say about these things? Or more importantly, what does God’s Word—the Bible—say about these things?
Here are 14 Bible terms to consider for focusing energy, defining standards, and making decisions as each situation arises.
Have you ever been carried away by passion for a cause? When you are so moved, you can hardly sit still; you just want to go out and do something—that’s zeal. As with all positive attributes, God is also our model for zeal. It is because of His zeal for righteousness that God must punish sin. It is because of God’s passionate love for people that He made the ultimate sacrifice to draw us to Himself.
We should have the same unquenchable drive for the things that God desires (Romans 12:11). We need to be sure, however, that our zeal is not misdirected. If we are faithful in studying God’s Word and letting His Spirit interpret it for us, God will give us a passion for the things he loves.
High self-esteem and personal confidence top the chart of qualities we value. Knowing who we are, where we’re from, and what we’re worth are important concepts. As Christians, on what do we base our confidence? First, we can know that God gives us high value. He formed us in the womb, knows our thoughts, and protects us (Psalm 139). Beyond that, we can be sure that God is not going to forget us; He is, in fact, continually working in us (Philippians 1:6). We can be confident that God’s Word is true. We can be confident that Jesus Christ will come back and call us to live with Him forever. Our confidence is in Him alone, and He is truth.
Self-control means having control over all parts of one’s self. The Bible describes people who are living according to their “sinful nature” and the disordered ways of the world as evil and having no self-control (Proverbs 29:11). Self-control can only be achieved with God’s help. God has given His children the power to master their thoughts, speech, and actions. With the help of the Holy Spirit, people can truly have control over themselves.
To abstain means to refrain from something deliberately and voluntarily. Those who abstain from certain things have learned that a good thing at the wrong time or for the wrong reason may lead to harmful results. Our bad choices can hurt us physically, emotionally, and spiritually, as well as hurt people around us. By instructing us to abstain from sinful activities, God frees us to enjoy the many good things He has given us.
We must seek the Holy Spirit’s help in avoiding things that will interfere with our relationship with God, while recognizing that God does not require a legalistic approach to regulations. Through Jesus Christ, we have freedom to enjoy life, and we need to hold back from only those things that are sinful in God’s eyes or that create a “stumbling block” in the eyes of fellow believers (1 Corinthians 10:23-24).
How often do you find yourself debating what to do in a specific situation? What you need is wisdom—the ability to reach sound decisions through knowledge, insight, judgment and discernment. It is not just about what is best or right for us, but what is best and right in God’s eyes (Proverbs 3:7). So, being wise is much more than just being smart. You can get straight A’s, but without wisdom, you will do foolish things. The wise person makes choices that are rooted in the desire to please God and obey His commands. The rewards of wisdom are wealth, long life, peace, happiness, honor, and protection.
Scripture is filled with admonitions to choose wisely, to choose to obey, to choose to serve God. We are responsible for how we choose to live—and accountable for the consequences. God chooses too. He chose to send His Son, Jesus Christ, to be the Savior of the world. One of the greatest comforts for believers is knowing that God chose us to be His children—before He even made the world. One of the greatest mysteries is that while God is the ultimate chooser, He also gives people the ability and responsibility to choose (Micah 6:8).
God uses our conscience in three ways: to help us know Him, to help us relate well with other Christians, and to help us interact in the world around us (1 Peter 3:15-16). The Holy Spirit works with our conscience, directing us and convicting us when we sin. We have freedom to enjoy whatever we please, as long as it doesn’t contradict God’s laws.
Is dancing wrong? If so, someone should have told Miriam, Moses’ sister. She not only danced, but also led all the Israelite women in dancing after they escaped from Egypt (Exodus 15:20). Let’s not forget David, God’s chosen king. He danced “before the Lord with all his might” (2 Samuel 6:14) to celebrate the return of the ark to Jerusalem. We have all kinds of dances these days: swing, tap, ballet, ballroom, jazz.
The dancing found in Scripture may or may not have had choreographed steps; what we do know is that it was worshipful, from the heart. Dancing was an outward expression of the inward joy—overflowing praise for God’s work. Dancing today can be an expression of the creative gifts given by God—or just another attempt to satisfy sensual desires. What does dancing do for you?
Why do some people brag about themselves? Are they insecure or just self-centered and egotistical? Whatever the reason, boasting is not the solution. But one thing is always good to boast about: the Lord Jesus Christ. In God’s eyes we were all sinners, yet God asked His only Son to die for us. That gave us significance! We have nothing to boast about other than God’s incredible concern for our salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Gossip is saying anything, especially negative, about a person that he or she might not want said. Oftentimes gossip is maliciou —deliberately intended to stain someone’s character in the eyes of others, regardless of whether the information shared is true. The Bible clearly condemns gossip because it violates God’s law of love that should govern all human relationships (Proverbs 16:28).
To covet is to desperately want to possess something that does not belong to you. Coveting is a serious enough problem that God outlawed it (Exodus 20:17, the tenth commandment given to Moses). When we want something so much that it dominates our thoughts, it shifts our focus from God—and easily leads to wrong actions. He asks only that we trust Him for the provision and for the timing. Coveting is sin.
Many people wish they could be part of a group of friends. Others want to have deeper friendships than what they have. True friends listen, talk, and spend time with each other (Proverbs 17:17). Friends shield us from loneliness, offer acceptance, and give us common ground. They influence us more than we know. The people we call friends speak volumes about who we are. Friends usually love the same things that we love. The deepest friendships grow between those who not only love God but also help each other grow in Him.
From schoolyard bully to military foe, enemies come in all shapes and sizes. Most people have a natural inclination to hate or to fear their enemies. In the Old Testament, God continually reminded His people that they had nothing to fear—as long as they trusted in Him. Jesus commands us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:43-45). Loving our enemies can only be done when we completely rely on God, who is love.
Who’s your role model? Jesus Christ’s life was a perfect example of the way a person should relate to God. For answers about how life should be lived, the best source to look to is the life of Jesus. In the same way, Christians should live in such a way as to be good examples to other Christians (Titus 2:7-8). If a person is living like Christ, other people can follow that person’s example.