Serial Reading of Young People’s Problems Chapter 18 – The Use of Time

Serial Reading of Young People’s Problems

Chapter 18 – The Use of Time

“If you saw a man standing by the shore, and flinging gold coins and diamonds into the sea — you would say he was insane. Yet God sees many people continually doing something very like this.” They don’t waste “gold and precious stones… but minutes, hours, days, weeks, and years of time — possessions which are of greater worth than any coins and gems of earth!”

I cannot read that without whispering a sober, “Amen.” With each day, I become more aware of the precious moments of times past, and the all too few remaining moments in the dwindling future. To the young, Ps. 90:12 means so little—“So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” But its lesson is not far off. Miller rightly says, “If we knew the intrinsic value of time to us, we would not allow a moment of it ever to be wasted.”

Miller equates “time with wise economy, [that we] not [squander] any of it.” “There is a great deal more resting than is necessary.” Yes, “everyone must rest,” but “God gives blessings to his beloved in sleep — blessings of renewal of strength” for the waking hours. Time “must be given to eating, to physical exercise, to home fellowships,” and more. “Even in hours of recreation, …fragments of time may be filled with little acts of helpfulness or kindness.”

“A writer tells of an English nobleman, who, when he went over his estate, always carried acorns in his pocket; and when he found a bare spot, he would plant one of them. By and by there would be a tree growing on the place, adorning it. So we may plant on every empty space of time, a seed of something beautiful, which will not only be an adornment — but will prove a blessing to others. It is one of the finest secrets of life, to know how to redeem the minutes from waste, and to make them bearers of blessing, of cheer, of encouragement, of good, to others.”

“No time given to service of love is wasted. …Much time is wasted in useless occupation, in doing things which are not worthwhile. No sin is worthwhile — rather, it is the sowing of a curse, not only in the world — but also in the heart of him who does the sinful thing.”

“Then, there are other things which are not regarded as sins — but which are of no value to anyone. You would better have spent the time in sleep or in sheer idleness, than in going through worthless books.” But, “There are good novels, great works of fiction, which teach splendid lessons, which show magnificent character and noble conduct, which inspire their readers to truer, better living.”

Miller’s words direct us to think upon our own modern era. The ever-growing array of time-wasting entertainments and inane amusements make his closing comments more significant: “No problem that comes before us is more important than this — what to do with time. It is a young people’s problem, too; because in youth, if ever, we learn how to live. The habits we form then, will go with us to the end of our days. If we learn then the value of moments, and form the habit of giving every minute something worthy to keep — we shall have found the secret of living fully,” full of days as Job, Abraham, Isaac, and David teach us (Job 42:17, Gen. 25:8; 35:29, 1 Chr. 23:1).

Find the full text on Grace Gems at: http://gracegems.org/Miller/young_peoples_problems.htm 

Chapter 19 – The Making of a Man

(to be continued)

— Joe LoGiudice, Principal


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Serial Reading of Young People’s Problems Chapter 17 – The Matter of Social Duties

Serial Reading of Young People’s Problems

Chapter 17 – The Matter of Social Duties

In this chapter, Miller warns against both the lack and the excess of sociability. Poor social practices negatively affect our ability to perform necessary duties and responsibilities. Amid the avalanche of social media, social networking, smartphones, and more, we need to look earnestly for the opportunities that accompany the challenges of these new technologies. Miller’s comments are as helpful now as they must have been over a hundred years ago.

He writes that every young person has duties in several areas of life – duties to their studies, to their church, to their family, and also to others in society. Notice that general social relationships are mentioned last and should be considered of lower priority than all the rest.

“Every young person, therefore, should form and courageously and persistently maintain regular habits of reading and STUDY …— they must be content to give to society only a proper proportion of time, putting self-improvement always first.”

“Christian young people have duties also to their CHURCH.” Further, “We should so order our life that we shall have daily silent times, when we can let the words of God speak themselves into our heart.”

Finally, “young people have duties to their own FAMILIES. There is something wrong with the girl who is restless, …who never has time for long quiet talks with her mother, whom home duties irk and tire, and who is happy only when she is [interacting] with her young friends outside. There is something wrong with the young man who never wants to spend an evening or an hour quietly with his own family. If the home is happy and true, the young folks in it can have no sweeter enjoyments than those they may find within their own doors.”

The bottom line: “Young people cannot afford to give all their time and interest to social matters. But there are duties which we owe to SOCIETY. The rule of Christian love requires us to think of the things of others, as well as of those which concern ourselves. We owe a debt of love to everyone who comes within the range of our influence.”

Miller provides the example of our Lord, saying: “Jesus was always ready to give himself to men. While he often spent his nights apart with God, and had his hours when he hid away from men — yet he went among the people freely, and was a wonderful dispenser of cheer, comfort, and kindness… Hence no young person should be a recluse, shutting himself away from others.”

But what about the nature of our interaction with others? “One’s social influence should be always wholesome, refining, inspiring, uplifting. It is a serious thing to touch another life — if the touch is not in blessing… Even in hours of play and amusement, [one’s] influence [should] be refining and wholesome. That should be the intent of all Christian influence.”

“Hospitality is a Christian duty. …Some people say they have not time for hospitality; that duties press too urgently, [or] that they must shut themselves away from [distractions]. But [this] can only be with twofold loss, —the losing of countless opportunities of doing good, and the loss to one’s self of the good which [may] come.”

“Thus there are social duties which one may not refuse to perform; they are binding and incumbent, …opportunities of being helpful.”

Find the full text on Grace Gems at: http://gracegems.org/Miller/young_peoples_problems.htm 

Chapter 18 – The Use of Time

(to be continued)

— Joe LoGiudice, Principal


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Serial Reading of Young People’s Problems Chapter 16 – Getting Along with People

Serial Reading of Young People’s Problems

Chapter 16 – Getting Along with People

“One of the earliest experiences of life, is the realizing that there are other people. It comes to the child when it first discovers that its freedom is limited by the will of another. It cannot always have its own way. It finds its will opposed, and its pleasure interrupted. Other people have something to say about the carrying out of its little plans.” -JRM

Do you recall when this happened to you?  I do.  I recall vividly the moment in my youth when I discovered that there were others in the room; that the world really did not revolve around me as I had previously thought. It was quite unnerving, this discovery of my own self-centeredness. In time I also realized I couldn’t do it on my own, needed others and much grace from above. Miller’s revelations here are quite true, having important things to say about the realities of immaturity and necessities of getting over ourselves in our daily encounters: “It is not always easy to accept gracefully these contacts with others, and to enter into kindly relations with them.”

“We never can learn love’s lessons, except in life’s school, where the lessons are set for us in actual human relationships.”

“It is the self-discipline of friendship and home and human fellowship which makes men and women of us, which makes us like Christ.”

There is much wisdom in this chapter.  It is hard to confine myself to a few summary words.  But here are his key points:

  • It is a “problem not so easily solved.”
  • “We must have the spirit of love,” and need to have its right definition.
  • “We need patience in living with others. Patience implies suffering” that is not easily accepted.
  • “The spirit of SERVICE is another secret of living together happily. One who demands that others must show him deference, … has not learned the true art of living with others.”
  • “Getting on well with others is to INSPIRE them — to expect noble and beautiful things of them, to set as our aim to bring out the best that is in them.”
  • “THOUGHTFULNESS is another of the secrets of happy living with others. Most young people begin life without this grace. …Thoughtfulness has to be learned — but when it is learned it is a marvelous sweetener of life.”
  • “Another essential is GOOD TEMPER. Love is not easily provoked. It bears all things.”

Miller expands upon the meaning and application of the all the above, adding: “We all are human; and there are few of us who at best, do not say words, or do things, which give pain to those closest to us. Even true love is not always just and kind. Then it is that love must outdo love — the one who has been hurt must show love’s long-suffering, overcoming evil with good.” 

He closes with, “…young people should take up this lesson as one that must be learned, if they would make much of their life. For if it is said of anyone that other people cannot live with him — then it is evident that something is seriously wrong.”  “It should be the aim of all, as much as lies in them, to live peaceably with all others. The law of loving service, patience, good temper, and all the Christian graces” goes beyond mere necessity if our lives are to be Christ honoring,   …a blessing to all whom [we] touch.”

Find the full text on Grace Gems at: http://gracegems.org/Miller/young_peoples_problems.htm 

Chapter 17 – The Matter of Social Duties

(to be continued)

— Joe LoGiudice, Principal

 


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Serial Reading of Young People’s Problems Chapter 15 – On the Control of TEMPER

Serial Reading of Young People’s Problems

Chapter 15 – On the Control of TEMPER

I have a temper! Each of us has an area of weakness, and mine has shown itself to be an uncontrolled temper. It was quite evident when I was young, but by God’s transforming grace, it is less so today. However, it does pop up occasionally, reminding me of my need for the important spiritual grace of “self-control” (Gal. 5:23). It appears from today’s reading of JR Miller’s Young People’s Problems that I am not alone in this weakness.

“A great many people seem to have trouble with their temper. Some years ago an English philosopher undertook an investigation. He arranged that about two thousand people should be put unconsciously under watchful eyes for a certain period, and that a study should be made of their temper. A tabulation of the reports showed that more than one-half of the two thousand were bad-tempered in various ways and degrees. Almost every adjective qualifying temper of an unlovely kind was used in defining the various shades and phases of unloveliness which were found to exist in the people under inspection.”

“It is not pleasant to believe that more than one-half of the people about us are so defective in the matter of temper. It is a comfort to know, however, that about forty-eight per cent are good-tempered in various degrees. Yet the fact that the preponderance is on the wrong side is humiliating.”

Pastor Miller points out that this issue of “very grave importance” is often viewed “as a [mere] weakness,” rather than a sin. He shows that “bad temper is unchristlike,” and that “we are like Christ, only in the measure in which we have the patience, gentleness, and good-temper of Christ.” Miller explains that it can be seen in different forms: “the malady is sulking” or “an unbridled tongue” that “scatters abroad coals of fire and sharp arrows which cause pain and anguish wherever they fly!”

So how are we to develop a “sweet temper”? Miller offers the following advice:

First, remember that change is possible. “The essential teaching of Christianity, is that human nature can be changed. …The tongue which no man can tame — Christ can.” Miller encourages us that “it is a great step in the right direction to know that one can get such a victory. …All of Christ’s strength is upon [the Christian’s] side to help him to be victorious.” Those truly alive in Christ “will never cease in [their] efforts to grow like [the] Master.”

Next, it is important to “know clearly what is to be accomplished, and to determine that the beautiful ideal must certainly be reached.… However, the lesson is not to be learned in a day.” Like the Apostle Paul (Phil. 4:10ff), “it has to be learned, too, for it does not come naturally to many of us.”

Miller reminds us however, that “self-control is really the heart of the lesson.” One’s “temper is not a bad quality; temper is an element of strength.” The issue in an unbridled temper. In fact, “a really strong man is one with strong passions and affections, which are held in complete mastery. This is the secret of a good temper.” As always, we must look to Christ; our help comes from Him, and He “lives in the heart of every disciple, a temple of the Holy Spirit.”

In summary, “every one of us should now receive the lesson of sweet temper which the Master sets, and should never intermit his diligence until the lesson is perfectly learned.”

Find the full text on Grace Gems at: http://gracegems.org/Miller/young_peoples_problems.htm 

Chapter 16 – Getting along with People

(to be continued)

— Joe LoGiudice, Principal


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