The Devotion of Youth

God speaks wistfully through the prophet Jeremiah to Israel, ‘I remember you, the kindness of your youth, the love of your betrothal. When you went after me in the wilderness, in a land not sown. Israel was holiness unto the Lord’, Jer. 2. 2-3 NKJV.

God is remembering the zeal and dedication of Israel in the early days after their redemption from Egypt. Nearly 800 years had passed since then. Idolatry and the breaking of God’s commandments now characterized the nation, and Jeremiah’s heart is broken, as is God’s. The word translated ‘kindness’ here is translated as ‘devotion’ in the New American Standard Bible.The word chesed can be translated as ‘loyal love’,‘the love of your betrothal’. There was the happiness, the joy, the excitement, the zeal of the newly married. God remembers it, but do we? Do you remember the joy and excitement that filled your soul when first you accepted Christ as your Lord and Saviour?

Do you remember how the love of God was poured out in your heart and you wanted to tell everyone about your wonderful Saviour? Do you remember your zeal in witnessing to others and your longing to see them saved? Do you remember the joy you experienced as you met with the Lord’s people, sang those grand hymns and were moved to tears as you remembered the Lord’s death in the breaking of bread? The Lord remembers.

It is hard to maintain the zeal and devotion of youth for the Lord. Many who were zealous for the Lord thirty or forty years ago are now complacent and apathetic toward the things of God. How sad! God still remembers the devotion of your youth – and is grieved. Is it inevitable that love for God will burn down to a bed of dead coals? Consider Caleb’s words after they had entered Canaan. ‘Lo I am this day, eighty-five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me; as my strength was then, even so is my strength now for war’, Josh 14. 10-12. Brave words! Caleb was an old man but was strong in faith and his devotion to God. His body may have aged somewhat but his spirit was that of a young man, the devotion and faith of youth.

What will kill our devotion and zeal for the Lord? Neglect of God’s word and prayer will sap our spiritual life. Forsaking meeting with the Lord’s people regularly will hasten coldness of heart. We need the exhortation and encouragement of God’s family, Heb. 10. 25. ‘Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him‘, 1 John 2. 15. The believer must resist the temptation to live for material things, constantly to want more, Heb. 13. 5. With sorrow Paul wrote,‘Demas hath forsaken me having loved this present world’, 2 Tim. 4. 10. Beware of the pleasures of sin, the world’s entertainment, the seduction of television.

So how do we respond? Have we lost the devotion to the Lord we once knew? ‘Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works’, Rev. 2. 5. Pour out your heart to the Lord in confession and know His forgiveness and restoration. Refuse to go on living with a heart cold to the God who loves you dearly.


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