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Anonymous Young People - the Young Men

S Buckeridge, Datchet

Having considered unnamed young women of the Bible, we now turn to some of the anonymous young men of Scripture. These exemplary young people the Lord has eternally recorded in His Word. They stand in contrast to those who are momentarily popular today who say, "Let us make us a name" (Gen 11.4). They challenge us as to whether we are interested in being well known by the world now or receiving the well done from our Saviour in the future.

The lad and his lunch (Jn 6.1-14)

This young man found himself surrounded by great need and no ability to come close to meeting it. The disciples estimated that the financial resources necessary for the work of feeding the crowd was several months’ wages, and then there were the practical aspects of obtaining the food and distributing it. However, the solution was not fund raising events, bread making committees, or fishing expeditions but complete surrender to Christ. The Lord Jesus did not use a foreboding Philip or an apprehensive Andrew, but instead the sacrifice of one who was willing to give everything to Him.

The chorus writer said it well:

Two little fishes, five loaves of bread,
Five thousand people by Jesus were fed.
This is what happened when one little lad
Gladly gave Jesus all that he had.

One lonely widow, two coins small;
Jesus was watching when she gave her all.
And Jesus said that His heart was made glad
That she had given all that she had.

There are many contrasts between the lad with two fish and the widow with two mites, but they both illustrate a great paradox of Christian sacrifice – that what we keep matters more than what we give. The circumstances in which the Lord has placed us will determine the actual quantity of time, money, and ability we can give to God. It is our love for Him that will determine the proportion we keep back for ourselves.

Some may consider that such sacrifice is illogical, just as the lad could have reasoned that giving up his food would merely add to the line of hungry mouths. Instead, he proved the principle, repeatedly found in Scripture and in the experience of those who have lived sacrificially for Christ, that those who give to God do not lose (1 Sam 2.30; Mt 6.33).

The antithesis to the lad with his lunch is Matthew’s miserable man with money (Mt 19.16-22). He had much of that to which the world aspires in his pietism and possessions, but sadly proved how "they that will be rich fall into…a snare" (1 Tim 6.9).

We may speak of what we own or earn, but in truth it all belongs to Christ. We merely have money and material things entrusted to us, with greater resources bringing an increased responsibility as to how we use them for Him. Our financial objectives are not to be measured by how much we can put on our tax return but by how much we will have at the Lord’s return. How are we doing in response to our Lord who five times, we are told, "gave Himself"?

The widow of Nain’s son (Lk 7.11-17)

Once again we find a young person in circumstances that were far from easy, with sadness, suffering, and probably poverty his experience. The two great things we are told about him are that he sat up and spoke up. His life and his lips gave clear evidence of the power of Christ being at work and great fear fell on them all. Do our lives clearly show that we have new life, born again with life of a different kind? Our kindness, honesty, hard work, cheerfulness, and self-control, for example, can all show that we are a new creation. Then when the looked-for opportunities come, we can speak with conviction about the Saviour and salvation we have.

Too often we are characterised by fear, whereas the clear testimony of this young man produced fear in the hearts of those around him. The encouragement of Paul to the younger man Timothy was, "God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power...Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord" (2 Tim 1.7-8).

Paul’s nephew (Acts 23.16-22)

From one perspective we owe several books of the New Testament to this young man who helped save the life of Paul. No doubt he was aware that by his actions he was risking his own life for one who was a member of both his spiritual and natural family.

All believers have to consider how to respond to the command that we ought to lay down our lives for our fellow saints (1 Jn 3.16). It would be inconsistent to claim we would be willing to do this if we are not doing what we can to meet regularly with them, visit, give hospitality, and communicate kindly. If we feel that it takes more grace to live knowing some people than it would to die for them, then we do well to reflect on Joseph’s love and forgiveness for his brothers. This reached its pinnacle at age thirty and reflected his attitude over many previous years.

Acts 23.16 was a rare occasion where overheard conversation and rumour were used for someone’s good. The more normal situation is illustrated at the end of the incident when the Roman commander’s instruction to the young man was, "Tell no one of these things". Paul’s well-being depended on this young man knowing when to say nothing. We should be wise to the times when what we could say would be harmful to others, such as murmuring, lying, and gossip, and keep quiet.

The young man who acted for the good of Paul is in contrast to the first "anonymous young man" mentioned in Scripture. Lamech spoke of being wounded while killing a young man (Gen 4.23). Are we hurting or helping those we say we love in the Lord?

Abraham’s young men

On three occasions we are told of anonymous young men in the life of Abraham.

After the victory in Genesis 14, Abraham would not take any material possessions except the "strength providing" necessary provisions for those who were fighting ("Save only that which the young men have eaten", v.24). Those who do spiritual warfare today are not promised earthly wealth but strength through "the power of his might" (Eph 6.10).

In Genesis 18 the Lord visited Abraham and, despite the heat (v.1), a young man quickly prepared the meat for them to eat (v.7). Speed is not always wise in spiritual matters. However, this was an example where what had to be done was clear, and, though it was practical and perhaps menial, the young man saw to it with energy and enthusiasm. We may spend time thinking about the speed of a motorbike or car, but the Lord is particularly interested in the willingness with which we carry out His will. For his commitment, the young man was one of the privileged few in the Old Testament to spend time directly in the Lord’s presence (v.8).

The two young men in Genesis 22 were prepared to get up early in the morning to look after a donkey. In return they were probably the first to learn of the amazing experience of Abraham and Isaac on the mountain. Those who sacrifice time to study the Scriptures or pray when others are in bed or at leisure (whether early in the morning or late at night) will be richly rewarded in what they learn of divine things.


Heaven will be a wonderful place. The difficulties, disappointments, and doubts of earth will be eternally replaced by the delights of being "forever with the Lord". Heaven will also be a revealing place where those who have lived faithfully for God, often in worldly obscurity, will be righteously rewarded.

The inspired writer said of the anonymous list in Hebrews (11.33-39) that it consisted of those "of whom the world was not worthy", and, as the examples in these two articles have shown, neither age or gender make any difference. What will matter in eternity is not how much of a celebrity we were but how much of Christ we showed. Our heavenly Father is watching and recording those who live and work for Him.



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