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Fundamentals of Christian Education

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    Chapter 54—Importance of Physical Culture

    Physical culture is an essential part of all right methods of education. The young need to be taught how to develop their physical powers, how to preserve these powers in the best condition, and how to make them useful in the practical duties of life. Many think that these things are no part of school work; but this is a mistake. The lessons necessary to fit one for practical usefulness should be taught to every child in the home and to every student in the schools.FE 425.1

    The place for physical training to begin is in the home, with the little child. Parents should lay the foundation for a healthy, happy life. One of the first questions to be decided is that of the food on their tables; for this is a matter upon which the development of the little ones and the health of the family very largely depend. Skill in the preparation of food is very important, and it is not less important that the food be of the proper quantity and quality.FE 425.2

    We all need to exercise wisdom in eating. If more food is eaten than can be digested and appropriated, a decaying mass accumulates in the stomach, causing an offensive breath and a bad taste in the mouth. The vital powers are exhausted in an effort to throw off the excess, and the brain is robbed of nerve force. Less food would have nourished the system, and not wasted its powers in overwork. Yet wholesome food should be supplied, sufficient in quantity and quality to nourish the system. If we follow the Bible rule, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God,” we shall not indulge appetite at the expense of the physical health, which it is our duty to preserve.FE 425.3

    Every mother should see that her children understand their own bodies, and how to care for them. She should explain the construction and use of the muscles given us by our kind Heavenly Father. We are God's workmanship, and His word declares that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” He has prepared this living habitation for the mind; it is “curiously wrought,” a temple which the Lord himself has fitted up for the indwelling of His Holy Spirit. The mind controls the whole man. All our actions, good or bad, have their source in the mind. It is the mind that worships God, and allies us to heavenly beings. Yet many spend all their lives without becoming intelligent in regard to the casket that contains this treasure.FE 425.4

    All the physical organs are the servants of the mind, and the nerves are the messengers that transmit its orders to every part of the body, guiding the motions of the living machinery. Exercise is an important aid to physical development. It quickens the circulation of the blood, and gives tone to the system. If the muscles are allowed to remain unused, it will soon be apparent that the blood does not sufficiently nourish them. Instead of increasing in size and strength, they will lose their firmness and elasticity, and become soft and weak. Inactivity is not the law the Lord has established in the human body. The harmonious action of all the parts,—brain, bone, and muscle,—is necessary to the full and healthful development of the entire human organism.FE 426.1

    The work of physical training, begun in the home, should be carried on in the schools. It is the design of the Creator that man shall know himself; but too often in the pursuit of knowledge this design is lost sight of. Students devote years to different educational lines; they become engrossed in the study of the sciences and of things in the natural world; they are intelligent on most subjects, but they do not become acquainted with themselves. They look upon the delicate human organism as something that will take care of itself; and that which is in the highest degree essential—a knowledge of their own bodies—is neglected.FE 426.2

    Every student should understand how to take such care of himself as to preserve the best possible condition of health, resisting feebleness and disease; and if from any cause disease does come, or accidents occur, he should know how to meet ordinary emergencies without calling upon a physician, and taking his poisonous drugs.FE 426.3

    The Lord himself has spoken upon this subject of the care of the body. He says in His word, “If any man destroyeth the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” 1 Corinthians 3:17, R. V. This scripture enjoins a conscientious care of the body, and condemns all ignorant or careless neglect. And again: “Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.” “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20; 10:31.FE 427.1

    The intelligent, conscientious care of our bodies is due to our Heavenly Father, who “so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” We are individually the property of Christ, His purchased possession. It is required of each one of us to preserve our health and strength by the practice of temperance in all things. The appetites and passions must be controlled, that through them we shall not weaken or defile God's human temple.FE 427.2

    Anything that lessens the physical power enfeebles the mind, and makes it less clear to discriminate between good and evil, between right and wrong. This principle is illustrated in the case of Nadab and Abihu. God gave them a most sacred work to perform, permitting them to come near to Himself in their appointed service; but they had a habit of drinking wine, and they entered upon the holy service in the sanctuary with confused minds. There was the sacred fire, which was kindled by God himself; but they used the common fire upon their censers, when they offered incense to ascend as a sweet fragrance with the prayers of God's people. Because their minds were clouded by an unholy indulgence, they disregarded the divine requirement; “and there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord.”FE 427.3

    God prohibited the use of wine to the priests ministering in His sanctuary, and the same injunction would have been made against tobacco, had its use been known; for it, too, has a benumbing influence upon the brain. And besides clouding the mind, it is unclean and defiling. Let every one resist the temptation to use wine, tobacco, flesh-meats, tea, or coffee. Experience has demonstrated that far better work can be accomplished without these harmful things.FE 428.1

    Let it be deeply impressed on the minds of the young by both parents and teachers, that Christ has paid an infinite price for our redemption. He has left nothing undone that He might win us back to allegiance to God. He wants us to remember our royal birth and high destiny as sons and daughters of God, and have genuine respect for ourselves. He would have all our powers developed, and kept in the best possible condition, that He may fill us with His grace and use us in His service, making us co-workers with Himself for the salvation of souls.FE 428.2

    It is the duty of each student, of each individual, to do all in his power to present his body to Christ, a cleansed temple, physically perfect as well as morally free from defilement,—a fit abode for God's indwelling presence.—Special Testimonies On Education, May 11, 1896.FE 428.3

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