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Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students

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    The Influence Of Association

    God's word places great stress upon the influence of association, even on men and women. How much greater is its power on the developing mind and character of children and youth! The company they keep, the principles they adopt, the habits they form, will decide the question of their usefulness here and of their future destiny.CT 220.1

    It is a terrible fact, and one that should make the hearts of parents tremble, that in so many schools and colleges to which the youth are sent for mental discipline and culture, influences prevail which misshape the character, divert the mind from life's true aims, and debase the morals. Through contact with the irreligious, the pleasure loving, and the corrupt, many youth lose the simplicity and purity, the faith in God, and the spirit of self-sacrifice that Christian fathers and mothers have cherished and guarded by careful instruction and earnest prayer.CT 220.2

    It is inevitable that the youth will have associates, and they will necessarily feel their influence. There are mysterious links that bind souls together so that the heart of one answers to the heart of another. One catches the ideas, the sentiments, the spirit, of another. This association may be a blessing or a curse. The youth may help and strengthen one another, improving in deportment, in disposition, in knowledge; or, by permitting themselves to become careless and unfaithful, they may exert an influence that is demoralizing.CT 220.3

    The matter of choosing associates is one which students should learn to consider seriously. Among the youth who attend our schools there will always be found two classes, those who seek to please God and to obey their teachers, and those who are filled with a spirit of lawlessness. If the youth go with the multitude to do evil, their influence will be cast on the side of the adversary of souls; they will mislead those who have not cherished principles of unswerving fidelity.CT 220.4

    It has been truly said, “Show me your company, and I will show you your character.” The youth fail to realize how sensibly both their character and their reputation are affected by their choice of associates. One seeks the company of those whose tastes and habits and practices are congenial. He who prefers the society of the ignorant and vicious to that of the wise and good shows that his own character is defective. His tastes and habits may at first be altogether dissimilar to the tastes and habits of those whose company he seeks; but as he mingles with this class, his thoughts and feelings change; he sacrifices right principles and insensibly yet unavoidably sinks to the level of his companions. As a stream always partakes of the property of the soil through which it runs, so the principles and habits of youth invariably become tinctured with the character of the company in which they mingle.CT 221.1

    Students should be taught to resist firmly the allurements to evil which come through association with other youth. Compassed as they are by temptation, an indwelling Christ is their only safeguard against evil. They must learn to look to Jesus continually, to study His virtues, to make Him their daily pattern. Then truth, brought into the inner sanctuary of the soul, will sanctify the life. They must be trained to weigh their actions, to reason from cause to effect, to measure the eternal loss or gain to the life given to serve the purposes of the enemy or devoted to the service of righteousness. They should be taught to choose as their companions those who give evidence of uprightness of character, those who practice Bible truth. By association with those who walk according to principle, even the careless will learn to love righteousness. And by the practice of right doing there will be created in the heart a distaste for that which is cheap and common and at variance with the principles of God's word.CT 221.2

    Strength of character consists of two things—power of will and power of self-control. Many youth mistake strong, uncontrolled passion for strength of character; but the truth is that he who is mastered by his passions is a weak man. The real greatness and nobility of the man is measured by his power to subdue his feelings, not by the power of his feelings to subdue him. The strongest man is he who, while sensitive to abuse, will yet restrain passion and forgive his enemies.CT 222.1

    God has given us intellectual and moral power, but to a great extent everyone is the architect of his own character. Every day the structure more nearly approaches completion. The word of God warns us to take heed how we build, to see that our building is founded upon the eternal rock. The time is coming when our work will stand revealed just as it is. Now is the time for all to cultivate the powers that God has given them, that they may form characters for usefulness here and for a higher life hereafter.CT 222.2

    Faith in Christ as a personal Saviour will give strength and solidity to the character. Those who have genuine faith in Christ will be sober-minded, remembering that God's eye is upon them, that the Judge of all men is weighing moral worth, that heavenly intelligences are watching to see what manner of character is being developed.CT 223.1

    The reason that so grave mistakes are made by the youth is that they do not learn from the experience of those who have lived longer than they have. Students cannot afford to pass off with jest or ridicule the cautions and instruction of parents and teachers. They should cherish every lesson, realizing at the same time their need of deeper teaching than any human being can give. When Christ abides in the heart by faith, His Spirit becomes a power to purify and vivify the soul. Truth in the heart cannot fail of having a correcting influence upon the life. Let both teachers and students hold the truth of God as a treasure of the highest value, which must not be dimmed or tarnished by practices that are out of harmony with its holy character.CT 223.2

    Let those students who are away from their homes, no longer under the direct influence of their parents, remember that the eye of their heavenly Father is upon them. He loves the youth. He knows their necessities, He understands their temptations. He sees in them great possibilities, and is ready to help them to reach the highest standard, if they will realize their need and seek Him for help.CT 223.3

    Students, night and day the prayers of your parents are rising to God in your behalf; day by day their loving interest follows you. Listen to their entreaties and warnings, and determine that by every means in your power you will lift yourselves above the evil that surrounds you. You cannot discern how insidiously the enemy will work to corrupt your minds and habits, and develop in you unsound principles.CT 223.4

    You may see no real danger in taking the first step in frivolity and pleasure seeking, and think that when you desire to change your course you will be able to do right as easily as before you yielded yourselves to do wrong. But this is a mistake. By the choice of evil companions many have been led step by step from the path of virtue into depths of disobedience and dissipation to which at one time they would have thought it impossible for them to sink.CT 224.1

    The student who yields to temptation weakens his influence for good, and he who by a wrong course of action becomes the agent of the adversary of souls must render to God an account for the part he has acted in laying stumbling blocks in the way of others. Why should students link themselves with the great apostate? Why should they become his agents to tempt others? Rather, why should they not study to help and encourage their fellow students and their teachers? It is their privilege to help their teachers bear the burdens and meet the perplexities that Satan would make discouragingly heavy and trying. They may create an atmosphere that will be helpful, exhilarating. Every student may enjoy the consciousness that he has stood on Christ's side, showing respect for order, diligence, and obedience, and refusing to lend one jot of his ability or influence to the great enemy of all that is good and uplifting.CT 224.2

    The student who has a conscientious regard for truth and a true conception of duty can do much to influence his fellow students for Christ. The youth who are yoked up with the Saviour will not be unruly; they will not study their own selfish pleasure and gratification. Because they are one with Christ in spirit, they will be one with Christ in action. The older students in our schools should remember that it is in their power to mold the habits and practices of the younger students; and they should seek to make the best of every opportunity. Let these students determine that they will not through their influence betray their companions into the hands of the enemy.CT 225.1

    Jesus will be the helper of all who put their trust in Him. Those who are connected with Christ have happiness at their command. They follow the path where their Saviour leads, for His sake crucifying the flesh, with its affections and lusts. They have built their hopes on Christ, and the storms of earth are powerless to sweep them from the sure foundation.CT 225.2

    It rests with you, young men and women, to decide whether you will become trustworthy and faithful, ready and resolute to take your stand for the right under all circumstances. Do you desire to form correct habits? Then seek the company of those who are sound in morals, and whose aim tends to that which is good. The precious hours of probation are granted that you may remove every defect from the character, and this you should seek to do, not only that you may obtain the future life, but that you may be useful in this life. A good character is a capital of more value than gold or silver. It is unaffected by panics or failures, and in that day when earthly possessions shall be swept away, it will bring rich returns. Integrity, firmness, and perseverance are qualities that all should seek earnestly to cultivate; for they clothe the possessor with a power which is irresistible—a power which makes him strong to do good, strong to resist evil, strong to bear adversity.CT 225.3

    The love of truth, and a sense of the responsibility to glorify God, are the most powerful of all incentives to the improvement of the intellect. With this impulse to action the student cannot be a trifler. He will be always in earnest. He will study as under the eye of God, knowing that all heaven is enlisted in the work of his education. He will become noble-minded, generous, kind, courteous, Christlike, efficient. Heart and mind will work in harmony with the will of God.CT 226.1

    *****

    The youth who are in harmony with Christ will choose companions who will help them in right doing, and will shun society that gives no aid in the development of right principles and noble purposes. In every place are to be found youth whose minds are cast in an inferior mold. When brought into association with this class, those who have placed themselves without reserve on the side of Christ will stand firmly by that which reason and conscience tell them is right.CT 226.2

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