Ellen G. White Writings

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The Youth’s Instructor

January 1, 1907

Privileges and Opportunities of the Youth

Written for the Young People's Day

“I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one. 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. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.”

This exhortation is addressed especially to the young. Their youth does not excuse them from responsibility. They are strong, and are not worn down with the cares and the weight of years; their affections are ardent, and if they withdraw them from the world, and place them upon Christ and heaven, doing the will of God, they will have a hope of the better life that is enduring, and will be crowned at last with glory, honor, and immortality.

It is an alarming fact that the love of the world predominates in the minds of the young as a class. Many conduct themselves as if the precious hours of probation, while mercy lingers, were one grand holiday, and they were placed in the world merely for their own amusement, to be gratified with a continual round of excitement. They find their pleasures in the world, and in the things of the world, and are strangers to the Father and the graces of his Spirit. Many are reckless in their conversation. They choose to forget that by their words they are to be justified or condemned. God is dishonored by the frivolity and the empty, vain talking and laughing that characterize the life of many of our youth.

I have seen Satan as a wily, vigilant foe, intent upon leading the youth to follow a course of action entirely contrary to that which God would approve. The enemy well knows that there is no class who can do as much good as young men and young women consecrated to God's service. He makes special efforts to lead them to find happiness in worldly amusements, and to justify themselves by endeavoring to show that these amusements are harmless, innocent, and even important for health. He presents the path of holiness as difficult, while the paths of worldly pleasure are strewn with flowers. In false and flattering colors, he arrays the world with its pleasures before the youth. But the pleasures of earth will soon come to an end, and that which is sown must also be reaped. Are personal attractions, ability, or talents too valuable to devote to God, the author of our being, him who watches over us every moment? Are our qualifications too precious to devote to God?

The youth often urge that they need something to enliven and divert the mind. The Christian's hope is just what is needed. Religion will prove to the believer a comforter, a sure guide to the Fountain of true happiness. The young should study the Word of God, giving themselves to meditation and prayer. They will find that their spare moments can not be better employed. Wisdom's “ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.”

Titus exhorts the youth to sobriety: “Young men likewise exhort to be sober-minded. In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech that can not be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.”

I entreat the youth, for their souls’ sake, to heed the exhortation of the apostle. All these gracious instructions, warnings, and reproofs will be either a savor of life unto life or of death unto death.

The young are naturally inclined to feel that not much responsibility, caretaking, or burden-bearing is expected of them. But upon every one rests the obligation to reach the Bible standard. The light that shines forth in privileges and opportunities, in the ministry of the word, in counsels, warnings, and reproofs, will perfect character, or will condemn the careless. This light is to be cherished by the young as well as by those who are older. Who will now take their stand for God, determined to give his service the first-place in their lives? Who will be burden-bearers?

“Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth.” Jesus desires the service of those who have the dew of youth upon them. He wants them to be heirs of immortality. They may grow up into noble manhood and womanhood, notwithstanding the moral pollution that abounds, that corrupts so many of the youth at an early age. They may be free in Christ; the children of light, not of darkness. God calls upon every young man and young woman to renounce every evil habit, to be diligent in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. They need not remain in indolence, making no effort to overcome wrong habits or to improve the conduct. The sincerity of their prayers will be proved by the vigor of the effort they make to obey God's commands. At every step they may renounce evil habits and associations, believing that the Lord, by the power of his Spirit, will give them strength to overcome.

Individual, constant, united efforts will be rewarded by success. Those who desire to do a great deal of good in our world must be willing to do it in God's way, by doing little things. He who wishes to reach the loftiest heights of achievement by doing something great and wonderful, will fail of doing anything.

Steady progress in a good work, the frequent repetition of one kind of faithful service, is of more value in God's sight than the doing of one great work, and wins for the youth a good report, giving character to their efforts. Those who are true and faithful to their divinely appointed duties, are not fitful, but steadfast in purpose, pressing their way through evil, as well as good, reports. They are instant in season and out of season.

The youth can do good in laboring to save souls. God holds them accountable for the use they make of the talents entrusted to them. Let those who claim to be sons and daughters of God aim at a high standard. Let them use every faculty God has given them.

The youth who are consecrated to God sway a mighty influence for good. Preachers or laymen advanced in years, can not have one half the influence for good upon the young that the youth, if devoted to God, can have upon their associates. They ought ever to remember that upon them rests the solemn responsibility of doing all they can to save their fellow mortals, even at a sacrifice of pleasure and natural desires. Their time, their means, their influence,—all that they have and are should be consecrated to God.

Those who have really tasted the sweets of redeeming love will not, can not, rest, until all with whom they associate are made acquainted with the plan of salvation. The young should inquire, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? How can I honor and glorify thy name upon the earth?”

Souls are perishing all around us, and what are you doing, my young friends, to win souls to Christ? O that you would use you[r] powers of mind in seeking to approach sinners, so that you might win even one soul to the path of righteousness! What a thought! One soul to praise God through eternity! One soul to enjoy happiness and eternal life! One gem in your crown, to shine forever and ever! But you may be able, by the grace of Christ, to win more than one from sin to holiness, and your reward will be great in the kingdom of heaven. Through the prophet Daniel the Lord declares that those who turn many to righteousness shall shine as the stars forever and ever.

Upon the youth there rests grave responsibilities. God expects much from the young men who live in this generation of increased light and knowledge. He desires to use them in dispelling the error and superstition that cloud the minds of many. They are to discipline themselves by gathering up every jot and tittle of knowledge and experience. God holds them responsible for the opportunities given them. The work before them is waiting for their earnest efforts, that it may be carried forward from point to point as the time demands. If the youth will consecrate mind and heart to the Lord's service, they may reach a high standard of efficiency and usefulness. This is the standard that the Lord expects the youth to attain. To do less than this is to refuse to make the most of God-given opportunities. This will be looked upon as treason against God,—a failure to work for the good of humanity.

What are you doing, dear youth, to make known to others how important it is to take the Word of God for a guide, to keep the commandments of Jehovah? Are you by precept and example declaring that it is only by obedience to the Word of God that men can be saved? If you will do what you can, you will be a blessing to others. As you labor according to the best of your ability, ways and opportunities will open before you to do more.

Upon us God has bestowed great and precious gifts. He has given us light and a knowledge of his will, so that we need not err or walk in darkness. To be weighed in the balances and found wanting in the day of final settlement and rewards will be a fearful thing, a mistake that can never be corrected. Shall the book of God be searched in vain for our names?

There is no happiness or safety except in the fear of the Lord. My dear young friends, morning and evening let your prayers go up from unfeigned lips that the Holy Spirit may take possession of your hearts and keep you from the seductive influences of the world. Work for Jesus; stand up for Jesus; and he will stand up for you in the day of God's judgment.

Mrs. E. G. White

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