The youth in general desire the approbation of those around them, and, rightly directed, this desire is commendable. It is an incentive to watchfulness and self-control, rendering them more anxious to manifest a right disposition in their association with others, and therefore more careful as to what they do and say.
Those who desire to merit the approval of the wise and good, will not become impatient when their errors are pointed out. Rather, they will feel grateful to a friend so faithful as to show them their defects of character. They will search carefully to see if the faults mentioned do really exist, and will seek earnestly to overcome them. A youth who, when cautioned or advised, says, “I don’t care what others think of me, I will do as I please,” manifests a recklessness and hardihood that should be shunned by all. He is sowing seed which will yield a terrible harvest for him to reap by and by.
We should all manifest respect for others, and should desire their respect in return. But at the same time there is need of discrimination as to whose approval is of real value. Evil-doers will not commend us unless we join in their sinful course. The approval of those who speak lightly of the Bible, or sneer at religion, is to be shunned rather than desired. Those who yield to the influence of this class, prove themselves unworthy of the favor of God. To obtain the good opinion of the proud, the vain, the pleasure-loving, whose chief aim is to please and glorify themselves, is to become defiled and corrupted by their ungodliness.
The approbation of God should be more highly prized than the praise of the whole world. It is of more value to young and old than everything besides. Let the youth candidly consider this matter, and seek to govern their lives by those principles that will be approved by God and by those who serve and honor him.
The youth living in this age will have a stern battle to fight, if they make right principles their rule of action. It is the highest effort of a large class in society to do as others do, to shape their course according to the world’s standard. Like the empty bubble or the worthless weed, they drift with the current. They have no individuality, no moral independence. The approval of the world is of more value to them than the approval of God, or the esteem of those whom he esteems. Their only motive or rule of action is policy. As they do not value truth or act from principle, no dependence can be placed upon them. They are the sport of Satan’s temptations. They have no true respect for themselves, and no real happiness in life. This class are to be pitied for their weakness and folly, and their example should be shunned by all who desire to be truly worthy of respect. But instead of this, their society is too often courted, and they seem to exert a fascinating power, well-nigh impossible to break.
I warn the youth to avoid the society of these worthless characters; for their influence is detrimental to the best interests of society.
In forming your opinions, and choosing your associates, let reason and the fear of God be your guide. Be firm in your purpose here, regardless of the opinions which others may entertain concerning you. When God’s requirements lead you to an opposite course from that which your associates are pursuing, go resolutely forward, whether you follow many or few. Whatever God’s word condemns, that reject, even though the whole world adopt and advocate it, and ridicule you as singular and fanatical.
Listen to the voice of reason. Remember that we have each a soul to save or to lose. Worldly advantages or pleasures should not for a moment be placed in the scale against your eternal interests. Jesus, our pattern, lived not to please himself. Those who are drifting with the tide, who love pleasure and self-indulgence, and choose the easier way, regardless of principle so long as their desires are gratified,—these will never stand with the overcomers around the great white throne. They will never hear from the lips of Jesus those precious words of greeting,
Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you.
The Judge of all the earth will never say “Well done” to those who have not done well.
All are now upon the battle-field; everyone must share in the conflict with the power of sin. We may conquer if we will put on the whole armor of God, and with faith, hope, and courage look steadfastly to Jesus, the Captain of our salvation.
Dear youth, you lose much by not studying with greater earnestness and care the life of Christ. There you may learn the character which you must form in order to become his disciples; you may see the victories which you have to gain over selfishness, pride, vanity, and especially over unbelief, that you may win the precious white robe of a spotless character, and stand at last without fault before the throne of God. “To him that overcometh,” is the Saviour’s promise,
will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.