The Youth’s Instructor


August 20, 1903

Lessons From the Life of Daniel—9

Earnestness of Purpose


We read that Daniel “purposed in his heart” that he would not eat of the luxuries of the king's table, nor drink of his wines. This purpose was not formed without due reflection and prayer, and when once his position was taken, he was not to be moved from it. YI August 20, 1903, par. 1

Daniel's companions, also, resolutely purposed to choose the real, the true, and the useful, rather than the momentary indulgence of appetite and pride. They resolved that their God-given talents should not be perverted and enfeebled by selfish indulgence. They reverenced their own manhood. They kept their eyes steadfastly fixed on the good they wished to accomplish. They determined to do all in their power to place themselves in right relation to God; and the Lord was not unmindful of their persevering, earnest effort. YI August 20, 1903, par. 2

When the four Hebrew youth were receiving an education for the king's court in Babylon, they did not feel that the blessing of the Lord was a substitute for the taxing effort required of them. They were diligent in study; for they discerned that through the grace of God their destiny depended upon their own will and action. They were to bring all their ability to the work; and by close, severe taxation of their powers, they were to make the most of their opportunities for study and labor. YI August 20, 1903, par. 3

While these youth were working out their own salvation, God was working in them to will and to do of his good pleasure. Here are revealed the conditions of success. To make God's grace our own, we must act our part. The Lord does not propose to perform for us either the willing or the doing. His grace is given to work in us to will and to do, but never as a substitute for our effort. Our souls are to be aroused to co-operate. The Holy Spirit works in us, that we may work out our own salvation. This is the practical lesson the Holy Spirit is striving to teach us. “It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” YI August 20, 1903, par. 4

The Lord will co-operate with all who earnestly strive to be faithful in his service, as he co-operated with Daniel and his three companions. Fine mental qualities and a high tone of moral character are not the result of accident. God gives opportunities; success depends upon the use made of them. The openings of Providence must be quickly discerned and eagerly entered. There are many who might become mighty men, if, like Daniel, they would depend upon God for grace to be overcomers, and for strength and efficiency to do their work. YI August 20, 1903, par. 5

I address you, young men: Be faithful. Put heart into your work. Imitate none who are slothful, and who give divided service. Actions, often repeated, form habits, habits form character. Patiently perform the little duties of life. So long as you undervalue the importance of faithfulness in the little duties, your character-building will be unsatisfactory. In the sight of Omnipotence, every duty is important. The Lord has said, “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much.” In the life of a true Christian there are no non-essentials. YI August 20, 1903, par. 6

Many who claim to be Christians are working at cross-purposes with God. Many are waiting for some great work to be brought to them. Daily they lose opportunities for showing their faithfulness to God; daily they fail of discharging with whole-heartedness the little duties of life, which seem to them uninteresting. While waiting for some great work in which they may exercise their supposedly great talents, and thus satisfy their ambitious longings, their life passes away. YI August 20, 1903, par. 7

My dear young friends, do the work that lies nearest at hand. Turn your attention to some humble line of effort within your reach. Put mind and heart into the doing of this work. Force your thoughts to act intelligently on the things that you can do at home. Thus you will be fitting yourself for greater usefulness. Remember that of King Hezekiah it is written: “In every work that he began, ... he did it with all his heart, and prospered.” YI August 20, 1903, par. 8

The ability to fix the thoughts on the work in hand, is a great blessing. God-fearing youth should strive to discharge their duties with thoughtful consideration, keeping the thoughts in the right channel, and doing their best. They should recognize their present duties, and fulfil them without allowing the mind to wander. This kind of mental discipline will be helpful and beneficial throughout life. Those who learn to put thought into everything they undertake, however small the work may appear, will be of use in the world. YI August 20, 1903, par. 9

Dear youth, be earnest, be persevering. “Gird up the loins of your mind.” Stand like Daniel, the faithful Hebrew, who purposed in his heart to be true to God. Do not disappoint your parents and friends. And there is Another to be remembered. Do not disappoint Him who so loved you that he gave his life to make it possible for you to be co-laborers with God. YI August 20, 1903, par. 10

The desire to honor God should be to us the most powerful of all motives. It should lead us to make every exertion to improve the privileges and opportunities provided for us, that we may understand how to use wisely the Lord's goods. It should lead us to keep brain, bone, muscle, and nerve in the most healthful condition, that our physical strength and mental clearness may make us faithful stewards. Selfish interest, if given room to act, dwarfs the mind, and hardens the heart; if allowed to control, it destroys moral power. Then disappointment comes. The selfish man has divorced himself from God, and sold himself to unworthy pursuits. He can not be happy; for he can not respect himself. He has lowered himself in his own estimation. He is a failure. YI August 20, 1903, par. 11

True success is given to men and women by the God who gave success to Daniel. He who read the heart of Daniel looked with pleasure upon his servant's purity of motive, his determination to honor the Lord. Those who in their life fulfil God's purpose, must put forth painstaking effort, applying themselves closely and earnestly to the accomplishment of whatever he gives them to do. YI August 20, 1903, par. 12

Dear reader, will you not determine to be as was Daniel,—a loyal, steadfast servant of the Lord of hosts? The God of Daniel works mightily in behalf of every one who seeks to know and to do his will. By the impartation of his Spirit he strengthens every true purpose, every noble resolution. YI August 20, 1903, par. 13

Mrs. E. G. White