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: 

Chapter 18 – The Use of Time

(to be continued)

— Joe LoGiudice, Principal