God Made Provision for Our Social Needs. --In the arrangements for the
education of the chosen people it is made manifest that a life centred in God is
a life of completeness. Every want He has implanted He provides to satisfy;
every faculty imparted He seeks to develop.
The Author of all beauty, Himself a lover of the beautiful, God provided to
gratify in His children the love of beauty. He made provision also for their
social needs, for the kindly and helpful associations that do so much to
cultivate sympathy and to brighten and sweeten life.
The Influence of Association. --Everyone will find companions or make them.
And just in proportion to the strength of the friendship will be the amount of
influence which friends will exert over one another for good or for evil. All
will have associates and will influence and be influenced in their turn.
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. . . .
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.
It has been truly said, "Show me your company, and I will show you your
character." The youth fail to realise 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.
Natural Tendencies Are Downward. --If the youth could be persuaded to
associate with the pure, the thoughtful, and the amiable, the effect would be
most salutary. If choice is made of companions who fear the Lord, the influence
will lead to truth, to duty, and to holiness. A truly Christian life is a power
for good. But, on the other hand, those who associate with men and women of
questionable morals, of bad principles and practices, will soon be walking in
the same path. The tendencies of the natural heart are downward. He who
associates with the skeptic will soon become sceptical; he who chooses the
companionship of the vile will most assuredly become vile. To walk in the counsel of the ungodly is the first
step toward standing in the way of sinners and sitting in the seat of the
With worldly youth the love of society and pleasure becomes an absorbing
passion. To dress, to visit, to indulge the appetite and passions, and to whirl
through the round of social dissipation appear to be the great end of existence.
They are unhappy if left in solitude. Their chief desire is to be admired and
flattered and to make a sensation in society; and when this desire is not
gratified, life seems unendurable.
Those who love society frequently indulge this trait until it becomes an
overruling passion. . . . They cannot endure to read the Bible and contemplate
heavenly things. They are miserable unless there is something to excite. They
have not within them the power to be happy, but they depend for happiness upon
the company of other youth as thoughtless and reckless as themselves. The powers
which might be turned to noble purposes they give to folly and mental
The Blessings of Christian Sociability. --Christian sociability is altogether
too little cultivated by God's people. . . . Those who shut themselves up within
themselves, who are unwilling to be drawn upon to bless others by friendly
associations, lose many blessings; for by mutual contact minds receive polish
and refinement; by social intercourse acquaintances are formed and friendships
contracted which result in a unity of heart and an atmosphere of love which is
pleasing in the sight of heaven.
Especially should those who have tasted the love of Christ develop their
social powers, for in this way they may win souls to the Saviour. Christ should
not be hid away in their hearts, shut in as a coveted treasure, sacred and sweet, to be
enjoyed solely by themselves; nor should the love of Christ be manifested toward
those only who please their fancy. Students are to be taught the Christlikeness
of exhibiting a kindly interest, a social disposition, toward those who are in
the greatest need, even though these may not be their own chosen companions. At
all times and in all places Jesus manifested a loving interest in the human
family and shed about Him the light of a cheerful piety.