The heart belongs to Jesus. He has paid an infinite price for the soul; and He intercedes before the Father as our Mediator, pleading not as a petitioner, but as a conqueror who would claim that which is His own. He is able to save to the uttermost, for He ever lives to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25). A young heart is a precious offering, the most valuable gift that can be presented to God. All that you are, all the ability you possess, comes from God a sacred trust, to be rendered back to Him again in a willing, holy offering. You cannot give to God anything that He has not first given you. Therefore when the heart is given to God, it is giving to Him a gift which He has purchased, and is His own.
There are many claimants to the time, the affections, and the strength, of youth. Satan claims the youth as his property, and a vast number render to him all the ability, all the talent, they possess. The world claims the heart; but that heart belongs to the One Who redeemed it. If given to the world, it will be filled with care, sorrow, and disappointed hopes; it will become impure and corrupted. It would be the worst kind of robbery to give to the world your heart’s affections and service, for they belong to God. You cannot with profit give your heart to pleasure-seeking. The enemy of righteousness has every kind of pleasure prepared for youth in all conditions of life; and they are not presented alone in crowded cities, but in every spot inhabited by human beings. Satan loves to secure the youth in his ranks as soldiers. The arch fiend well knows with what material he has to deal; and he has displayed his infernal wisdom in devising customs and pleasures for the youth which will separate their affections from Jesus Christ. The various amusements of society have been the ruin of thousands and tens of thousands who, had it not been for these attractions, would have been obedient children, respectful to their parents, upright, pure, and noble in their pursuits and in their character. In order to break away from the fascinations of pleasure, they will have to make a desperate effort. They will have to arise in all their strength, taking hold by faith of the Divine power in their efforts to be Christ’s only.
The lesson of the prodigal is given for the instruction of youth. In his life of pleasure and sinful indulgence, he expends his portion of the inheritance in riotous living. He is friendless, and in a strange country; clad in rags, hungry, longing even for the refuse fed to the swine. His last hope is to return, penitent and humbled, to his father’s house, where he is welcomed, forgiven, and taken back to a father’s heart (see Luke 15:11–32). Many youth are doing as he did, living a careless, pleasure-loving, spendthrift life, forsaking the fountain of living waters, the fountain of true pleasure, and hewing out to themselves broken cisterns, which can hold no water.
God’s invitation comes to each youth, “My son, give Me thine heart; I will keep it pure; I will satisfy its longings with true happiness.” God loves to make the youth happy, and that is why He would have them give their hearts into His keeping, that all the God-given faculties of the being may be kept in a vigorous, healthful condition. They are holding God’s gift of life. He makes the heart beat; He gives strength to every faculty. Pure enjoyment will not debase one of God’s gifts. We sin against our own bodies, and sin against God, when seeking pleasures which separate our affections from God. The youth are to consider that they are placed in the world on trial, to see whether they have characters that will fit them to live with angels.
When your associates urge you into paths of vice and folly, and all around you are tempting you to forget God, to destroy the capabilities God has intrusted to you, and to debase all that is noble in your nature, resist them. Remember that you are the Lord’s property, bought with a price, the suffering and agony of the Son of God. [Emphasis author’s.]
God says, “My son, give Me thy heart” (Proverbs 23:26). Will you refuse Him that which you cannot give with merit because it is His already—that which you cannot refuse without ruin to your own soul? He asks your heart; give it to Him, it is His own. He asks your intellect; give it to Him, it is His own, lent you in trust. He asks your money; it is His own, give it to Him. “Ye are not your own; ye are bought with a price” (I Corinthians 6:19, 20).
The Lord Jesus claims your service. He loves you. If you doubt His love, look to Calvary. The light reflected from the cross shows you the magnitude of that love which no tongue can tell. “He that keepeth My commandments, he it is that loveth Me” (John 14:21). We are to become acquainted by diligent study with the commandments of God; and then show that we are His obedient sons and daughters.
The mercies of God surround you every moment; and it would be profitable for you to consider how and whence your blessings come every day. Let the precious blessings of God awaken gratitude in you. You cannot number the blessings of God, the constant loving-kindness expressed to you, for they are as numerous as the refreshing drops of rain. Clouds of mercy are hanging over you, and ready to drop upon you. If you will appreciate the valuable gift of salvation, you will be sensible of daily refreshment, of the protection and love of Jesus; you will be guided in the way of peace.
Look upon the glorious things of God in nature, and let your heart go out in gratitude to the Giver. There is in nature’s book profitable study for the mind. Be not thankless and reckless. Open the eyes of your understanding; see the beautiful harmony in the laws of God in nature, and be awed, and reverence your Creator, the supreme Ruler of heaven and earth. See Him, by the eye of faith, bending over you in love, saying with compassion, “My son, my daughter, give Me thy heart.” Make the surrender to Jesus, and then with grateful hearts you can say, “I know that my Redeemer liveth” (Job 19:25). Your faith in Jesus will give strength to every purpose, consistency to the character. All your happiness, peace, joy, and success in this life are dependent upon genuine, trusting faith in God. This faith will prompt true obedience to the commandments of God. Your knowledge and faith in God is the strongest restraint from every evil practice, and the motive to all good. Believe in Jesus as One Who pardons your sins, One Who wants you to be happy in the mansions He has gone to prepare for you. He wants you to live in His presence; to have eternal life and a crown of glory.
The Youth’s Instructor, January 5, 1887.