The Early Years of Christ
The first thirty years of the life of Christ were passed in the obscure village of Nazareth. The inhabitants of this village were proverbial for their wickedness, hence the inquiry of Nathanael: “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” The evangelists say but very little in regard to the early life of Christ. With the exception of a brief account of his accompanying his parents to Jerusalem, we have the simple statement only,
And the child grew, waxed strong in spirit, was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.
Christ is our example in all things. In the providence of God, his early life was passed in Nazareth, where the inhabitants were of that character that he was continually exposed to temptations, and it was necessary for him to be guarded in order to remain pure and spotless amid so much sin and wickedness. Christ did not select this place himself. His Heavenly Father chose this place for him, where his character would be tested and tried in a variety of ways. The early life of Christ was subjected to severe trials, hardships, and conflicts, that he might develop the perfect character which makes him a perfect example for children, youth, and manhood.
Children and youth are frequently situated where their surroundings are not favorable to a Christian life, and they quite readily yield to temptations, and plead as an excuse for pursuing a course of sin, that their surroundings are unfavorable. Christ chose retirement, and through a life of industry, keeping his hands employed, he did not invite temptation, but kept aloof from the society of those whose influence was corrupting. Christ placed his feet in the most uneven path that children and youth will ever be called to travel. He did not have allotted to him a life of affluence and indolence. His parents were poor, and dependent upon their daily toil for sustenance; therefore the life of Christ was one of poverty, self-denial, and privation. He shared with his parents their life of diligent industry.
Our Lot Easier than His
None will ever be called to perfect Christian character under more unfavorable circumstances than that of our Saviour. The fact that Christ lived thirty years in Nazareth, from which many thought it a wonder if any good thing could come, is a rebuke to the youth who consider that their religious character must conform to circumstances. If the surroundings of youth are unpleasant and positively bad, many make this an excuse for not perfecting Christian character. The example of Christ would rebuke the idea that his followers are dependent upon place, fortune, or prosperity, in order to live blameless lives. Christ would teach them that their faithfulness would make any place, or position, where the providence of God called them, honorable, however humble.
The life of Christ was designed to show that purity, stability, and firmness of principle are not dependent upon a life freed from hardships, poverty, and adversity. The trials and privations of which so many youth complain, Christ endured without murmuring. And this discipline is the very experience the youth need, which will give firmness to their character, and make them like Christ, strong in spirit to resist temptation. They will not, if they separate from the influence of those who would lead them astray and corrupt their morals, be overcome by the devices of Satan. Through daily prayer to God, they will have wisdom and grace from him to bear the conflicts and stern realities of life, and come off victorious. Fidelity, and serenity of mind, can only be retained by watchfulness and prayer. Christ’s life was an example of persevering energy, which was not allowed to become weakened by reproach, ridicule, privation or hardships.
Thus should it be with the youth. If trials increase upon them, they may know that God is testing and proving their fidelity. And in just that degree that they maintain their integrity of character under discouragements, will their fortitude, stability, and power of endurance increase, and they wax strong in spirit.