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Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 1

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    Chapter 33—Dangers Facing Youth

    Habits Determine Destiny—In childhood and youth the character is most impressible. The power of self-control should then be acquired. By the fireside and at the family board, influences are exerted whose results are as enduring as eternity. More than any natural endowment, the habits established in early years decide whether a man will be victorious or vanquished in the battle of life. Youth is the sowing time. It determines the character of the harvest for this life and for the life to come.—The Desire of Ages, 101 (1898).1MCP 308.1

    Self-discipline Versus Self-indulgence—The world is given to self-indulgence. Errors and fables abound. Satan's snares for destroying souls are multiplied. All who would perfect holiness in the fear of God must learn the lessons of temperance and self-control. The appetites and passions must be held in subjection to the higher powers of the mind. This self-discipline is essential to that mental strength and spiritual insight which will enable us to understand and to practice the sacred truths of God's Word. For this reason temperance finds its place in the work of preparation for Christ's second coming.—The Desire of Ages, 101 (1898).1MCP 308.2

    “Quit Yourselves Like Men, Be Strong.”—Young men should have broad ideas, wise plans, that they may make the most of their opportunities, catch the inspiration and courage that animated the apostles. John says, “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” (1 John 2:14). An elevated standard is presented before the youth, and God is inviting them to come into real service for Him. True-hearted young men who delight to be learners in the school of Christ can do a great work for the Master if they will only give heed to the command of the Captain as it sounds down along the lines to our time: “Quit you like men, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13).—The Review and Herald, June 16, 1891. (Messages to Young People, 24.)1MCP 309.1

    Peril of Neglecting Training and Special Preparation—Young men who desire to enter the field as ministers, colporteurs, or canvassers should first receive a suitable degree of mental training, as well as special preparation for their calling. Those who are uneducated, untrained, and unrefined are not prepared to enter a field in which the powerful influences of talent and education combat the truths of God's Word. Neither can they successfully meet the strange forms of error, religious and philosophical combined, to expose which requires a knowledge of scientific as well as Scriptural truth.—Testimonies for the Church 5:390 (1885).1MCP 309.2

    Brilliance No Assurance of Success—It is not true that brilliant young men always make the greatest success. How often men of talent and education have been placed in positions of trust and have proved failures. Their glitter had the appearance of gold, but when it was tried, it proved to be but tinsel and dross. They made a failure of their work through unfaithfulness.1MCP 309.3

    They were not industrious and persevering and did not go to the bottom of things. They were not willing to begin at the bottom of the ladder, and with patient toil, ascend round after round till they reached the top. They walked in the sparks of their own kindling. They did not depend on the wisdom which God alone can give. Their failure was not because they did not have a chance, but because they were not sober-minded. They did not feel that their educational advantages were of value to them, and so did not advance as they might have advanced in the knowledge of religion and science. Their mind and character were not balanced by high principles of right.—The Review and Herald, December 8, 1891. (Fundamentals of Christian Education, 193.)1MCP 309.4

    No Virtue in Ignorance—You have thought that it was of the highest importance to obtain an education in the sciences. There is no virtue in ignorance, and knowledge will not necessarily dwarf Christian growth; but if you seek for it from principle, having the right object before you and feeling your obligation to God to use your faculties to do good to others and promote His glory, knowledge will aid you to accomplish this end; it will help you to bring into exercise the powers which God has given you and to employ them in His service.—Testimonies for the Church 3:223 (1872).1MCP 310.1

    Choosing the Side of Unbelief—The word of God will judge every one of us at the last great day. Young men talk about science and are wise above that which is written; they seek to explain the ways and work of God to meet their finite comprehension, but it is all a miserable failure.1MCP 310.2

    True science and inspiration are in perfect harmony. False science is a something independent of God. It is pretentious ignorance. This deceptive power has captivated and enslaved the minds of many, and they have chosen darkness rather than light. They have taken their position on the side of unbelief, as though it were a virtue and the sign of a great mind to doubt, when it is the sign of a mind too weak and narrow to perceive God in His created works. They could not fathom the mystery of His providence should they study with all their power for a lifetime. And because the works of God cannot be explained by finite minds, Satan brings his sophistry to bear upon them and entangles them in the meshes of unbelief. If these doubting ones will come into close connection with God, He will make His purposes clear to their understanding.—Testimonies for the Church 4:584, 585 (1881).1MCP 310.3

    Destructive Power of Doubt—There is no excuse for doubt or skepticism. God has made ample provision to establish the faith of all men if they will decide from the weight of evidence. But if they wait to have every seeming objection removed before they believe, they will never be settled, rooted, and grounded in the truth. God will never remove all seeming difficulties from our path. Those who wish to doubt may find opportunity; those who wish to believe will find plenty of evidence upon which to base their faith.1MCP 311.1

    The position of some is unexplainable, even to themselves. They are drifting without an anchor, beating about in the fog of uncertainty. Satan soon seizes the helm and carries their frail bark wherever he pleases. They become subject to his will. Had these minds not listened to Satan, they would not have been deceived by his sophistry; had they been balanced on the side of God they would not have become confused and bewildered.—Testimonies for the Church 4:583, 584 (1881).1MCP 311.2

    Failure to Put Acquired Knowledge to Practical Use—But, young men, if you gain ever so much knowledge and yet fail to put that knowledge to a practical use, you fail of your object. If, in obtaining an education, you become so absorbed in your studies that you neglect prayer and religious privileges and become careless and indifferent to the welfare of your souls, if you cease to learn in the school of Christ, you are selling your birthright for a mess of pottage. The object for which you are obtaining an education should not be lost sight of for a moment. It should be to so develop and direct your faculties that you may be more useful and bless others to the extent of your ability.1MCP 311.3

    If by obtaining knowledge you increase your love of yourselves and your inclination to excuse yourselves from bearing responsibilities, you are better without an education. If you love and idolize books, and allow them to get between you and your duties, so that you feel a reluctance to leave your studies and your reading to do essential labor that someone must do, you should restrain your desire to study and cultivate a love for doing those things in which you now take no interest. He that is faithful in that which is least will also be faithful in greater things.—Testimonies for the Church 3:223, 224 (1872).1MCP 312.1

    The Evils of Physical Inaction and Excessive Mental Activity—The whole body is designed for action; and unless the physical powers are kept in health by active exercise, the mental powers cannot long be used to their highest capacity. The physical inaction which seems almost inevitable in the schoolroom—together with other unhealthful conditions—makes it a trying place for children, especially for those of feeble constitution....No wonder that in the schoolroom the foundation of lifelong illness is so often laid. The brain, the most delicate of all the physical organs, and that from which the nervous energy of the whole system is derived, suffers the greatest injury. By being forced into premature or excessive activity, and this under unhealthful conditions, it is enfeebled, and often the evil results are permanent.—Education, 207, 208 (1903).1MCP 312.2

    Shunning Burdens and Toil (experience of two young men)—These young men have duties at home which they overlook. They have not learned to take up the duties and bear the home responsibilities which it is their duty to bear. They have a faithful, practical mother, who has borne many burdens which her children should not have suffered her to bear. In this they have failed to honor their mother. They have not shared the burdens of their father as was their duty, and have neglected to honor him as they should. They follow inclination rather than duty.1MCP 312.3

    They have pursued a selfish course in their lives, in shunning burdens and toil, and have failed to obtain a valuable experience which they cannot afford to be deprived of if they would make life a success. They have not felt the importance of being faithful in little things, nor have they felt under obligation to their parents to be true, thorough, and faithful in the humble, lowly duties of life which lie directly in their pathway. They look above the common branches of knowledge, so very necessary for practical life.—Testimonies for the Church 3:221, 222 (1872).1MCP 313.1

    Recreation Versus Amusement—There is a distinction between recreation and amusement. Recreation, when true to its name, re-creation, tends to strengthen and build up. Calling us aside from our ordinary cares and occupations, it affords refreshment for mind and body, and thus enables us to return with new vigor to the earnest work of life. Amusement, on the other hand, is sought for the sake of pleasure and is often carried to excess; it absorbs the energies that are required for useful work and thus proves a hindrance to life's true success.—Education, 207 (1903).1MCP 313.2

    Senseless Mirth—Our recreations should not be scenes of senseless mirth, taking the form of the nonsensical. We can conduct them in such a manner as will benefit and elevate those with whom we associate and better qualify us and them to more successfully attend to the duties devolving upon us as Christians.—The Health Reformer, July, 1871. (The Adventist Home, 493).1MCP 313.3

    The Fashionable Modern Dance—David's dancing in reverent joy before God has been cited by pleasure lovers in justification of the fashionable modern dance, but there is no ground for such an argument. In our day, dancing is associated with folly and midnight reveling. Health and morals are sacrificed to pleasure. By the frequenters of the ballroom, God is not an object of thought and reverence; prayer or the song of praise would be felt to be out of place in their assemblies.1MCP 313.4

    This test should be decisive. Amusements that have a tendency to weaken the love for sacred things and lessen our joy in the service of God are not to be sought by Christians. The music and dancing in joyful praise to God at the removal of the ark had not the faintest resemblance to the dissipation of modern dancing. The one tended to the remembrance of God, and exalted His holy name. The other is a device of Satan to cause men to forget God and to dishonor Him.—Patriarchs and Prophets, 707 (1890).1MCP 314.1

    Seeking Satisfaction in Amusements and Pleasures—The enemy seeks in many ways to draw our minds from the study of the Word. Many he leads to seek for satisfaction in amusements and pleasures that seem desirable to the carnal heart. But the true children of God are not seeking their happiness in this world; they seek for the lasting joys of a home in the eternal city where Christ dwells, and where the redeemed shall receive the rewards of obedience to the requirements of God. These do not desire the transitory, cheap amusements of this life, but the enduring bliss of heaven.—Manuscript 51, 1912. (Our High Calling, 284.)1MCP 314.2

    Foolish Thoughts and Trifling Conversation—Why not keep your minds fixed on the unsearchable riches of Christ that you may present to others the gems of truth? ... It is impossible to do this while we indulge an idle, restless spirit, seeking constantly for something that will merely gratify the senses, something to amuse, and cause a foolish laugh.... We should not set our minds upon such things as these, when there are unsearchable riches for us. It will take us all eternity to comprehend the riches of the glory of God and of Jesus Christ.1MCP 314.3

    But minds that are occupied with frivolous reading, with exciting stories, or with seeking after amusement do not dwell upon Christ and cannot rejoice in the fullness of His love. The mind that finds pleasure in foolish thoughts and trifling conversation is as destitute of the joy of Christ as were the hills of Gilboa of dew or rain.—The Review and Herald, March 15, 1892.1MCP 315.1

    The Whirl of Excitement—The cities of today are fast becoming like Sodom and Gomorrah. Holidays are numerous; the whirl of excitement and pleasure attracts thousands from the sober duties of life. The exciting sports—theatergoing, horse racing, gambling, liquor drinking, and reveling—stimulate every passion to activity.1MCP 315.2

    The youth are swept away by the popular current. Those who learn to love amusement for its own sake open the door to a flood of temptations. They give themselves up to social gaiety and thoughtless mirth. They are led on from one form of dissipation to another, until they lose both the desire and the capacity for a life of usefulness. Their religious aspirations are chilled; their spiritual life is darkened. All the nobler faculties of the soul, all that link man with the spiritual world, are debased.—Testimonies for the Church 9:89, 90 (1909).1MCP 315.3

    Parties of Pleasure—Many allow the youth to attend parties of pleasure, thinking that amusement is essential for health and happiness; but what dangers are in this path! The more the desire for pleasure is gratified, the more it is cultivated and the stronger it becomes. The life experience is largely made up of self-gratification in amusement. God bids us beware. “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).—Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 347 (1913).1MCP 315.4

    Frivolity a Danger—One pattern only is given to the young, but how do their lives compare with the life of Christ? I feel alarmed as I witness everywhere the frivolity of young men and young women who profess to believe the truth. God does not seem to be in their thoughts. Their minds are filled with nonsense. Their conversation is only empty, vain talk. They have a keen ear for music, and Satan knows what organs to excite to animate, engross, and charm the mind so that Christ is not desired. The spiritual longings of the soul for divine knowledge, for a growth in grace, are wanting.—Testimonies for the Church 1:496, 497 (1867).1MCP 315.5

    Indulgence Robs Brain of Its Power—The same Witness that recorded the profanity of Belshazzar is present with us wherever we go. Young man, young woman, you may not realize that God is looking upon you; you may feel that you are at liberty to act out the impulses of the natural heart, that you may indulge in lightness and trifling, but for all these things you must give an account. As you sow, you will reap, and if you are taking the foundation from your house, robbing your brain of its nutriment and your nerves of their power by dissipation and indulgence of appetite and passion, you will have an account to render to Him who says, “I know thy works.”—The Review and Herald, March 29, 1892.1MCP 316.1

    Indiscriminate Pleasure Dwarfs the Mind—As hurried eating of temporal food is detrimental to physical health, so the greedy swallowing of everything bearing the semblance of pleasure dwarfs the mind, causing it to refuse the spiritual food which is presented. The mind is educated to crave pleasure as the inebriate craves the glass of liquor. It seems impossible to resist the temptation. Sober thinking is distasteful because the presentation is not satisfying. There is nothing pleasing in the idea of reading and studying the words of eternal life.—Letter 117, 1901.1MCP 316.2

    Dangerous Amusements—Any amusement which disqualifies them for secret prayer, for devotion at the altar of prayer, or for taking part in the prayer meeting is not safe, but dangerous.—Testimonies for the Church 3:223 (1872).1MCP 316.3

    Indulgence of Appetite Impairs Health of Body and Soul—Do you consider, young man, in choosing your principles of action and subjecting your mind to influences, you are forming your character for eternity? You can hide nothing from God. You may practice evil habits in secret, but it is not hid from God and angels. They view these things and you must meet them again. God is not pleased with you; you are required to be far in advance of what you are now in spiritual knowledge.1MCP 317.1

    With all the privileges and opportunities that God has granted you, you do not have corresponding works. You owe a duty to others, and a duty imperfectly understood will be imperfectly performed. There will be mistakes and errors that not only will be injurious to yourself but will help to fasten wrong practices upon others. You have habits of appetite that you indulge to the detriment of the health of the body as well as the soul. Your habits have been intemperate, after the habits and customs of the world, and your health has been injured by your indulgence of appetite. The brain has been beclouded, and you will never have clear, pure thoughts until your habits and practices are in accordance with the laws of God in nature.—Letter 36, 1887.1MCP 317.2

    Avoid Temptations—Avoid running into temptation. When temptations surround you, and you cannot control the circumstances which expose you to them, then you may claim the promise of God and with confidence and conscious power exclaim, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). There is strength for you all in God. But you will never feel your need of that strength which alone is able to save you unless you feel your weakness and sinfulness.1MCP 317.3

    Jesus, your precious Saviour, now calls you to take your position firmly upon the platform of eternal truth. If you suffer with Him, He will crown you with glory in His everlasting kingdom. If you are willing to sacrifice all for Him, then He will be your Saviour. But if you choose your own way, you will follow on in darkness until it is too late to secure the eternal reward.—Testimonies for the Church 3:45, 46 (1872).1MCP 317.4

    Cherish Righteous Ambition—Love the right because it is right, and analyze your feelings, your impressions, in the light of the Word of God. Misdirected ambition will lead you into sorrow as surely as you yield to it. I am trying to catch the very words and expressions that were made in reference to this matter, and as my pen hesitates a moment, the appropriate words come to my mind. I want you to understand me.1MCP 318.1

    Cherish an ambition that will bring glory to God because it is sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Let the holy oil, which comes from the two olive branches, burn with a holy radiance upon the altar of your soul. The work of these olive branches represents the richest impartation of the Holy Spirit.—Letter 123, 1904.1MCP 318.2

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