Ellen G. White Writings

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The Youth’s Instructor

March 1, 1873

The Life of Christ—No. 4

By Ellen G. White.

Many fond parents make a mistake in giving their children special attentions, in petting, praising, and flattering them, and relieving them from duties they should be taught to do quite young. Parents will frequently call the attention of visitors to their children. They will exhibit their smartness, and urge forward their children for the purpose of receiving praise and commendation from them, of their children's capabilities and good qualities. The visitors think that as a matter of course they must say something in praise of these petted children, or they will be thought uncourteous. All this kind of education of children has a direct tendency to make them vain, and to think more highly of themselves than they ought to think.

Children are hurried to maturity, and in reality there is no period of youth. From childhood, our children are rushed over the years of youth, and are regarded as men and women, rather than inexperienced youth as they truly are, needing the counsel, guidance, and restraint of parental authority. My heart has been pained as I visit families to see the efforts parents make to have their little darlings appear what they really are not, that visitors may think they are the prodigies of smartness. These children are being educated for display, and are forming habits which will encourage physical, mental, and moral feebleness. They do not live to be useful, and to wait upon their parents, and to lighten their burdens. They live for show, and pleasure, and expect to be waited upon, to be carried, instead of bearing their own weight in the world.

Children that have been praised and laughed at, for their forward speeches, when in company with older persons will seek to attract their notice as though they were of considerable consequence. They seek to make themselves conspicuous, as the principal object of attraction. They have learned to love praise and flattery, and are not satisfied without it. They grow to maturity, courting flattery. They dress and affect in youth the manners of gentlemen and ladies. Natural modesty and simplicity are rarely seen now in children and youth. A bashful child is a beautiful sight. Boldness and saucy independence, are seen in the generation of youth now coming upon the stage of action. Children rule their parents, and parents submit to be ruled.

Children that are much noticed and indulged, become selfish, exacting, and over-bearing. They expect to be favored, and to receive much from others, while they give nothing in return. Children with characters that are formed with these serious defects, cannot be happy. They carry from childhood to youth their characters warped by wrong discipline, and their religious experience is affected by their education and discipline in childhood. This defect is seen and deplorably felt in church capacity, and in the jealousies of old age.

Children that are thus educated will have no love or pleasure for practical life. They are not happy unless they can be in society, and be noticed, and make a display. They covet applause and admiration of others, and feel lost without flattery. Such a life opens a wide door for Satan to enter with his temptations to allure them to sin. They have not been disciplined to have their wills and inclinations crossed, therefore they become an easy prey to Satan's devices. In short, he has almost absolute control of youth who have been thus educated. They have not learned to be self-reliant, and have not noble independence. They live to please others and to be praised and petted. They think that they must do as others do. They have not learned to say, No, to the suggestions of evil companions to do wrong. “If sinners entice thee, consent thou not.” This resistance of evil they have no experience in. To love the right, and choose it, and stand in moral strength and firmness against inclination, in the fear of God, they have not learned. They have not solidity of character to move from principle rather than impulse. They have not been instructed that the favor of God is more to be desired than the honor of princes, and great riches.

The life of Christ can be better discovered and valued, when we consider it in marked contrast with the inhabitants of Nazareth, while they were ambitious for distinction and worldly honor and display, and their lives were corrupt. Jesus was sinless. Some are inclined to dwell with special interest upon the miracles performed by Christ for the needy and suffering, while his unexampled piety in earlier life with his parents at home is passed over. The fact that he was without fault in his home life makes him a pattern for all children and youth. He was no less the Son of God in his quiet life at home, in faithfully serving his parents at Nazareth, than while healing the sick, and in raising the dead.

Important lessons can be here drawn for children and youth, that they cannot be employed in a more noble work than in performing their duty to their parents. They are no less engaged in the work of God, acknowledged and recorded by the heavenly angels as such, in faithful, filial obedience, than in a more public and more responsible position of later days. Youth can serve God as faithfully in the submission of their wills to their parents, and in the filial discharge of the every-day duties of life, as in the house of God.

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