Exercise That Develops Hand, Mind, and Character. --The greatest benefit is
not gained from exercise that is taken as play or exercise merely. There is some
benefit derived from being in the fresh air and also from the exercise of the
muscles; but let the same amount of energy be given to the performance of
helpful duties, and the benefit will be greater, and a feeling of satisfaction
will be realized; for such exercise carries with it the sense of helpfulness and
the approval of conscience for duty well done.
In the children and youth an ambition should be awakened to take their
exercise in doing something that will be beneficial to themselves and helpful to
others. The exercise that develops mind and character, that teaches the hands to
be useful and trains the young to bear their share of life's burdens, is that
which gives physical strength and quickens every faculty. And there is a reward
in virtuous industry, in the cultivation of the habit of living to do good.
No recreation helpful only to themselves will prove so great a blessing to
the children and youth as that which makes them helpful to others. Naturally
enthusiastic and impressible, the young are quick to respond to suggestion.
Jesus' Example as a Youth. --The life of Jesus was filled with industry, and
He took exercise in performing varied tasks in harmony with His developing
physical strength. In doing the work that was marked out for Him, He had no time for
indulgence in exciting, useless amusements. He took no part in that which would
poison the moral and lower the physical tone, but was trained in useful labour
and even for the endurance of hardship.
In His earth life Christ was an example to all the human family, and He was
obedient and helpful in the home. He learned the carpenter's trade and worked
with His own hands in the little shop at Nazareth. . . .
The Bible says of Jesus, "And the child grew, and waxed strong in
spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon Him." As He
worked in childhood and youth, mind and body were developed. He did not use His
physical powers recklessly, but gave them such exercise as would keep them in
health, that He might do the best work in every line. He was not willing to be
defective, even in the handling of tools. He was perfect as a workman, as He was
perfect in character. By precept and example Christ has dignified useful labour.
Refreshment Through Variation of Labour. --Young men should remember that
they are accountable for all the privileges they have enjoyed, for the
improvement of their time, and for the right use of their abilities. They may
inquire, Shall we have no amusement or recreation? Shall we work, work, work,
without any variation?
A change from physical labour that has taxed the strength severely may be
very necessary for a time, that they may again engage in labour, putting forth
exertion with greater success. But entire rest may not be necessary or even be
attended with the best results so far as their physical strength is concerned.
They need not, even when weary with one kind of labour, trifle away their
precious moments. They may then seek to do something not so exhausting but which will be a blessing to their mother and sisters. In
lightening their cares by taking upon themselves the roughest burdens they have
to bear, they can find that amusement which springs from principle and which
will yield them true happiness, and their time will not be spent in trifling or
in selfish indulgence. Their time may be ever employed to advantage, and they be
constantly refreshed with variation, and yet be redeeming the time so that every
moment will tell with good account to someone.
Many claim that it is necessary for the preservation of physical health to
indulge in selfish amusement. It is true that change is required for the best
development of the body, for mind and body are refreshed and invigorated by
change; but this object is not gained by indulgence in foolish amusements, to
the neglect of daily duties which the youth should be required to do.
A Programme for Students That God Blessed. --We are to educate the youth to
exercise equally the mental and the physical powers. The healthful exercise of
the whole being will give an education that is broad and comprehensive.
We had stern work to do in Australia in educating parents and youth along
these lines; but we persevered in our efforts until the lesson was learned that
in order to have an education that was complete, the time of study must be
divided between the gaining of book knowledge and the securing of a knowledge of
Part of each day was spent in useful work, the students learning how to clear
the land, how to cultivate the soil and to build houses in time that would
otherwise have been spent in playing games and seeking amusement. And the Lord blessed the students who thus devoted their time to learning
lessons of usefulness.
God has provided useful employments for the development of health, and these
useful employments will also qualify students to be a help to themselves and to
In the place of providing diversions that merely amuse, arrangements should
be made for exercises that will be productive of good.
Missionary Activity Is an Ideal Exercise. --There are plenty of necessary,
useful things to do in our world that would make the pleasure amusement exercise
almost wholly unnecessary. Brain, bone, and muscle will acquire solidity and
strength in using them to a purpose, doing good, hard thinking, and devising
plans which shall train them to develop powers of intellect and strength of the
physical organs, which will be putting into practical use their God-given
talents with which they may glorify God.
It is our duty ever to seek to do good in the use of the muscles and brain
God has given to youth, that they may be useful to others, making their labours
lighter, soothing the sorrowing, lifting up the discouraged, speaking words of
comfort to the hopeless, turning the minds of the students from fun and frolic
which often carries them beyond the dignity of manhood and womanhood to shame
and disgrace. The Lord would have the mind elevated, seeking higher, nobler
channels of usefulness.
The same power of exercise of mind and muscle might invent ways and means of
altogether a higher class of exercise, in doing missionary work which would make
them labourers together with God, and would be educating for higher usefulness
in the present life, in doing useful work, which is a most essential branch in education. . . .
Is not this the work that every youth should be seeking to do, working in
Christ's lines? You have Christ's help. The ideas of the students will broaden.
They will be far reaching, and the powers of usefulness, even in your student's
life, will be continually growing. The arms, the hands, which God has given, are
to be used in doing good which shall bear the signet of heaven, that you can at
last hear the "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."
A Prescription for Invalids. --I have been instructed that as the sick are
encouraged to leave their rooms and spend time in the open air, tending the
flowers or doing some other light, pleasant work, their minds will be called
from self to something more health giving. Open-air exercise should be
prescribed as a beneficial, life-giving necessity.
We can but be cheerful as we listen to the music of the happy birds and feast
our eyes upon flourishing fields and gardens. We should invite our minds to be
interested in all the glorious things God has provided for us with a liberal
hand. And in reflecting upon these rich tokens of His love and care, we may
forget infirmities, be cheerful, and make melody in our hearts unto the Lord.
For years I have from time to time been shown that the sick should be taught
that it is wrong to suspend all physical labour in order to regain health. In
thus doing the will becomes dormant, the blood moves sluggishly through the
system and constantly grows more impure. Where the patient is in danger of
imagining his case worse than it really is, indolence will be sure to
produce the most unhappy results. Well-regulated labour gives the invalid the idea
that he is not totally useless in the world, that he is at least of some
benefit. This will afford him satisfaction, give him courage, and impart to him
vigour, which vain mental amusements can never do.
God's Provision for Finding True Pleasures. --God has provided for everyone
pleasure that may be enjoyed by rich and poor alike--the pleasure found in
cultivating pureness of thought and unselfishness of action, the pleasure that
comes from speaking sympathizing words and doing kindly deeds. From those who
perform such service, the light of Christ shines to brighten lives darkened by