Early Devotedness

In reading the account of the “singular vow” (Lev. 27) it is worthy of notice that estimation is made according to age. Thus, in the case of a child being devoted to the Lord, from one month to five years of age, the value was set at five shekels of silver for a male; at twenty shekels from five to twenty; at fifty shekels from twenty to sixty; and then down to fifteen from sixty upwards. The highest estimation is placed on that period of life—twenty to sixty—when the faculties and energies are most fully in play. But this is striking, that a higher value is placed on the years between five and twenty than on those between sixty and upwards. A man who begins to devote himself to the Lord at sixty years of age is only worth fifteen shekels, whilst a youth under twenty is reckoned at five shekels more. This is significant. The earlier the better.

I have been struck of late by the thought that those whom God has deigned to use specially to instruct the church have been led to surrender themselves to the Lord when young. Saving grace may reach the soul at any period, and then surrender to the claims of Christ follow; but, as a rule, the best servants of Christ have been early converted, and early led to yield their hearts and lives to Him. The result is that such have been more signally owned in the help of His people, and the unfolding of His word. And there is a moral ground for this. If a man live the best of his days in the gratification of his own pleasures, and set the will of God practically aside, must he not suffer the consequences in time, even though pardoned and brought to God? Grace may work wonders, and lead an old man thus converted to accomplish great things—doubtless; yet when, through the same grace, the young heart is won for Christ, and has thereby escaped the dulling, deadening effects of sin, it is certainly more easily trained and taught, and is therefore enabled to form a more correct judgment of truth, of things that differ, of those shades of meaning that call for a spiritual mind and a clear, undimmed eye.

Thus Saul was a “young man” when he was converted, and Timothy was a “youth;” and so in the history of the church it will be found that the prominent teachers and distinguished leaders have been early found of the Lord. True it is that more than mere youth is needed. Our passage speaks of devotedness. But a young heart devoted to Christ, and seeking to sustain that devotedness, is the heart that is used of Him.

This may well encourage the young. Sin is a dread master. Christ is worthy of our all. He died for us; He seeks our trust, our confidence, our love. He says, “Who will go for us?” He could send an angel. He would rather have you, dear young reader.