The Happiest People!

Brief Bible Course for Teens and Youth.

Lesson 10. Eat Thy Bread With Joy! 

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"Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest . . . , and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun. Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest." Ecclesiastes 9:9, 10.

A number of years ago a man came to see Dr. Henry Link, a very famous doctor in New York. He was despondent and discouraged. He had lost his job, nobody cared to associate with him, and even his own family did not seem to want him any more. The only thing he could think of doing was to commit suicide. He thought first he would see what the doctor would advise, so he told him all his troubles. Dr. Link said, "Your work has been very sedentary. You have developed your mind but not your body. I will give you a program of manual work, and soon you will be feeling better."

The man replied: "I don't like manual work; I don't want to work."

Dr. Link replied, "If you don't get that body to work, you will soon lose your mind." He did his best to dissuade him from committing suicide, but all the man would say was, "I don't want to work; I want to commit suicide."

At last almost in exasperation the doctor said, "All right, then, commit suicide, but don't blow your brains out, or hang yourself, or jump over a bridge; do something out of the ordinary. If you could not get into the headlines of the newspaper while you were alive, do something heroic and commit suicide in a he-man way and get into the headlines when you die."

The man said, "That sounds interesting. What do you have to suggest?"

The doctor said: "I never yet have heard of man running himself to death. If you want to get into the headlines, run around the block until you drop dead, and every newspaper will have it on the front page."

The poor despondent man said, "That is what I am going to do."

He went home, wrote a letter of farewell, dressed in his bathing suit, and started running; and he ran and ran, but he could not drop dead. He got so tired that he could hardly lift one foot after another, and at last he said, "I will have to finish this off tomorrow night." He went back home, and he slept better than he had slept for a long time.

The next night he began running around the block, and round and round he went. But he couldn't drop dead. He got so tired he couldn't move another inch, and so he went back to bed and slept, and the next morning he was as hungry as a horse. The next night when he was getting ready to run, he said, "I feel better than I have felt for a long while. I don't think I am ever going to drop dead." And that man literally ran himself back again to life, health and strength.

When God made man in the beginning He gave him work to do. (Genesis 2:15.) This work was intended to be a great blessing and a source of great happiness. God planned that man should eat his bread with joy (Ecclesiastes 9:7), and Solomon tells us how this joy can come to us: "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might" (verse 10).

Unfortunately, when Adam disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, he was cursed, and part of that curse had the word "work" in it. When Adam was condemned to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow, Satan took advantage of the situation, and ever since he has tried to tell mankind that work is a curse. But work is one of the greatest blessings that has ever come to mankind. There is a mysterious power in work that all the science of human beings cannot explain. It has power akin to the power of God.

"Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord; that walketh in his ways. For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee," says David. Psalm 128:1, 2.

Paul tells us to "work out" our "own salvation with fear and trembling." Philippians. 2:12.

Jesus says, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your father which is in heaven." Matthew 5:16.

And in the Day of Judgment we will be judged according to our works. (Revelation 22:12.) How will it feel to hear the judge of all saying, "I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience"? Revelations 2:2.

"Those who, so far as it is possible, engage in the work of doing good to others by giving practical demonstration of their interest in them, are not only relieving the ills of human life in helping them bear their burdens, but are at the same time contributing largely to their own health of soul and body. Doing good is a work that benefits both giver and receiver. If you forget self in your interest for others, you gain a victory over your infirmities. The satis­faction you will realize in doing good, will aid you greatly in the recovery of the healthy tone of the imagination."­ Messages to Young People, p. 209.

What a wonderful blessing! When we engage in doing good to others, the physical part of the work first does our own bodies good, second it blesses those whom we help, and third it brings health to our minds!

"The pleasure of doing good animates the mind and vibrates through the whole body. While the faces of benevolent men are lighted up with cheerfulness, and their countenances express the moral elevation of the mind, those of selfish, stingy men are dejected, cast down, and gloomy. Their moral defects are seen in their counte­nances. Selfishness and self-love stamp their own image upon the outward man." Messages to Young People, 209.

Manual work has therefore a great deal to do with making the face beautiful and the personality attractive. Focus your work selflessly upon others, and the pleasure of doing good will vibrate through your body and leave its stamp upon your face.

"In order for men and women to have well-balanced minds, all the powers of the being should be called into use and developed. There are in this world many who are one-sided because only one set of faculties has been culti­vated, while others are dwarfed from inaction. The educa­tion of many youth is a failure. They over-study, while they neglect that which pertains to the practical life. That the balance of the mind may be maintained, a judicious system of physical work should be combined with mental work, that there may be a harmonious development of all the powers." Messages to Young People, p. 239.

Within recent years Dr. Henry C. Link has written a book called The Rediscovery of Man. In this book he proves scientifically this same truth given to us in the Spirit of prophecy years ago, that man has a body, a mind, and a soul, and that all these powers must be developed harmoniously in order to be truly healthy.

Work bestows still another blessing: "It was God's purpose to alleviate by toil the evil brought into the world by man's disobedience. By toil the temptations of Satan might be made ineffectual, and the tide of evil stayed. And though attended with anxiety, weariness, and pain, labor is still a source of happiness and development, and a safeguard against temptation. Its discipline places a check on self-indulgence, and promotes industry, purity, and firmness. Thus it becomes a part of God's great plan for our recovery from the fall....

"One of the surest safeguards against evil is useful occupation, while idleness is one of the greatest curses; for vice, crime, and poverty follow in its wake. Those who are always busy, who go cheerfully about their daily tasks, are the useful members of society. In the faithful discharge of the various duties that lie in their pathway, they make their lives a blessing to themselves and to others. Diligent labor keeps them from many of the snares of him who `finds some mischief still for idle hands to do.'" Messages to Young People, pp. 213, 214.

The reason why work is such a safeguard against evil is given us in this paragraph: "The will goes with the labor of the hands; and when the will power is dormant, the imagination becomes abnormal, so that it is impossible for the sufferer to resist disease. Inactivity is the greatest curse that could come upon one in such a condition." ­Counsels on Health, p. 199.

To these paragraphs let me add just a few more sentences: "For the disheartened there is a sure remedy, faith, prayer, work." Prophets and Kings, p. 164.

"There is but one genuine cure for spiritual laziness, and that is work--working for souls who need your help." Testi­monies, vol. 4, p. 236.

"This is the recipe that Christ has prescribed for the fainthearted, doubting, trembling soul. Let the sorrowful ones, who walk mournfully before the Lord, arise and help someone who needs help." Testi­monies, vol. 6, p. 266. We might read more and more, for the Spirit of prophecy is full of the doctrine of the twofold blessing that comes with manual labor and working for others.

Link's book, which I have already mentioned, is a glorification of work and of the self-discipline that comes with work. It is a terrible indictment of everything that is soft, easy, idle, indolent, and selfish. I recommend it for careful reading. He says that in a search for a "person­ality quotient" eighty psychologists, . . went to certain of our high schools representing a fair cross section of our country. They selected the students who had pleasing personalities, those who were loved, respected, and wanted, and placed them in one group. Then they chose those who had poor personalities, those who were disgruntled, who were misfits, and were not respected or wanted and put them in another group. They then studied the activities, the pastimes, the games, the hobbies, of each group in an attempt to find the common denominator of activities that produced good personalities, and those that produced poor personalities. The results were very enlightening.

Those who had pleasing personalities were those who engaged in active games, such as swimming, basketball, baseball, skating, ping-pong, etc. Please notice he said swimming and not sun-bathing on the beach. He said canoeing and rowing, not sitting idly in a motorboat. Those who had pleasing personalities were people who en­joyed group activities, such as the Boy Scout and the Mis­sionary Volunteers and took part in school and Sunday school programs, in student organizations, in bands, orches­tras, and glee clubs, and who enjoyed hobbies, such as photography, playing musical instruments, repairing radios, keeping scrapbooks, making models, or observing nature. His findings show that repairing radios has a positive effect on personality and that merely listening to the radio was negative. These people who had these pleasing person­alities kept a diary, not merely started a diary. They were people who served on committees, who remembered birth­days, who performed chores to earn money. The common denominators found were action, cooperation, submitting oneself to the rules of the game without grumbling and growling or trying to change the game because it did not suit them. Those were some of the positive things, and all the people with the pleasing personalities had the common denominator of movement and exercising their physical bodies.

As they studied the other group the common denomi­nators were just as easily found. They were young people who spent a lot of time reading love stories and listening to the radio. They got out of as much participation in school programs as possible. They enjoyed only the soft, the easy, and the pleasant pursuits. They were self­-centered and self-indulgent. Most of them had bad habits, such as gambling, drinking, and secret vice. I want you to notice that the common denominator of these negative factors is passive inactivity, idleness, and sitting alone.

"Therefore," Dr. Link says, "I define personality as the extent to which the individual has developed habits and skills which interest and serve other people. . . . Its emphasis is on doing things with and for other people. Its essence is self-sacrifice, not self-gratification." The Re­discovery of Man, pp. 60, 61.

"Persisting in games and sports even though awkward Doing the less pleasant task first Not using the words 'I can't do this', or 'I am no good at this' The habit of controlling outbursts of temper. Finishing a task once started. Refusing to be discouraged. Not brooding over mistakes and hard luck. Having some definite vocational or educational plan....

"Self-determination as contrasted with self-gratifica­tion, self-discipline as contrasted with self-indulgence, is the basic law in the development of personality." The Re­discovery of Man, pp. 81, 82.

To illustrate how these principles produce joy or sorrow, mental health or mental sickness, Dr. Link gave this example: A well-educated woman, sixty years of age, had worked in a certain bank for years. She was honored, respected, and wanted, but as the years rolled by she seemed to grow despondent and could hardly rise above it. She went to see a doctor, and he said: "You are in a rut. Just run away from your work for a while. Go to New York and take in the theaters and night clubs, then come back."

She did as he advised and came back a new woman. She felt so different. She had gotten out of the rut, but in just a day or two she had that feeling of melancholy she had before. She returned to the doctor and said, "It only worked for a day or two."

He replied, "You didn't do it long enough. Spend a whole month."

She followed his advice, but still she felt better for only a few days when she returned. Then she heard of Dr. Link and asked him what to do. She told him, "I can run away from my work, but cannot run away from myself, and it doesn't do any good."

Asking her about her work, he said, "Who is the young lady who works beside you in the bank?"

She replied, "Dorothy."

"Dorothy what?"

"I don't know."

"Where does she live?"

"I haven't the faintest idea."

"What is she trying to accomplish?"

"I don't know."

Then Dr. Link said, "I can give you a little prescription of things to do. Will you promise to do what I ask you to do?"

She said, "I will do anything."

He said, "Assignment No. 1. Get acquainted with Dorothy; find out where she lives; invite her to your home to have supper. It may be that a woman of your ability can do something for her. Find out all you can and do something to help her.

Assignment No. 2: Get acquainted with the milkman, his wife and children; find out where they live, and see if there is something you can do with them.

Assignment No. 3: Get acquainted with your news­boy. Find out who he is and what he hopes to be when he grows up. In two months you come back and see me."

In two months she did not come back, but she wrote him a ten-page letter. In it there was not a word about herself and her despair. There were ten pages of joy, of pleasure, of a new world that she had found. Why Dorothy was working on college work, and she had coached her in Latin, and Dorothy had passed with good colors, and they were such good friends. One of the milkman's children had the whooping cough, and she relieved that poor, tired mother, and they were the finest friends. She did not under­stand there was a joy like that, and she sat down and wrote a ten-page letter telling all the joy that had come into her life when she began focusing on doing good to others. It is wonderful. There is a mysterious power about it. It does react on the giver as well as on the receiver.

Now we come to the question that young people so often raise when we talk about amusement. They say, "Give us some do's, not only some don'ts." I am ready to give you some do's right now, if you want real fun and pleasure, that kind of pleasure that will react upon your­self and leave its impress in your face, vibrate through your body and stamp you with a pleasing personality.

First of all, wean yourself away from the soft, easy, indulgent things. Cultivate a taste for the things that re­quire self-discipline, action, and service for others. Hunt up two or three juniors and lead them into something that is creative, of helpful, rather than engage in fleeting pleasures. The younger ones are inspired by the fellowship of an older youth.

You can find information on nature, gardening, and flower culture. There is more mystery about working in a garden than you and I can comprehend. There is something about the electricity in the soil and being among beautiful, growing things that reflects itself in one's spirit and well-being.

Then again, there is the study of shells, animals, and minerals. What delight we get at the zoo looking at the animals. The zoological garden will be a paradise for you if you study the geographical distribution, habitats, and habits of the animals and birds you find there.

Then there are mechanical arts, drawing and printing and making greeting cards. What a world of activity is offered also in music. Show me the boy who would not rather toot a horn in a band than listen to the radio. There is as much difference between sitting down and listening to a radio program and producing some music of your own as there is between health and sickness. Let us aspire to produce beautiful harmonies.

Then there are the oppor­tunities of the Sabbath school. God forbid that anyone should say, "I don't have time to teach, to review, to prepare." Make time. Get hold of yourself and submit to self-discipline. These things will leave their impression upon your personality. By the time you have tasted them you will wonder where you have been living your past life, for there is a joy in these things that only those who have served in them can appreciate or believe.

"The greatest benefit is not gained from exercise that is taken as play or exercise merely. There is some benefit in 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 useful work, and the benefit will be greater. 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....

"Diligent study is essential, so also is diligent hard work. Play is not essential. Devotion of the physical powers to amusement is not most favorable to a well-balanced mind. ...

"The more perfectly the youth understand how to perform the duties of practical life, the greater will be their enjoyment day by day in being of use to others. The mind educated to enjoy useful labor becomes enlarged; through training and discipline it is fitted for usefulness; for it has acquired the knowledge essential to make its possessor a blessing to others." Messages to Young People, pp. 178, 179.

Jesus truly said, "He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." Matthew 10:39.

I want to refer to one more aspect of work. I turn to Mark 13:34: "For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work." I believe that God has a special work for every one of His children to do. I believe there is a special place somewhere for everyone who takes up his cross willingly to follow in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus. Let me read the words with which Christ commissions you and me. In Matthew 21:28 we read, "Son, go work to day in my vineyard."

We have many ways of earning a livelihood, but there is only one work that God has given us all to do. He has promised a joy, a mysterious power not found in just earning a livelihood, in doing the work that He has given to each one to do. Carey cobbled shoes to pay expenses, but his work was winning souls. We may be doctors, cooks, or janitors, or earn our expenses shoveling away snow or feeding the furnace, but there is a work for everyone to do.

 "Each has his place in the eternal plan of heaven. Each is to work in co-operation with Christ for the salvation of souls. Not more surely is the place prepared for us in the heavenly mansions than is the special place designated on earth where we are to work for God." Messages to Young People, p. 219.

My dear young people, I can tell you from experience that when you have found that little corner where you can work for the Lord Jesus better than anyone else, it will be the greatest joy and reward that can ever come to you.

Illustrations could be multiplied, but I think of one-an experience of five hundred people--captives on a German raider who were landed on what they thought to be a cannibal island. The captain of the raider knew those islands, and he was fearful. He refused to land them on Mussau and took them to Emirau as the lesser of the two evils. The prisoners huddled together in the boats as they were rowed to the beach, but no arrows were shot at them, no spears thrown. Word soon got round, and the natives came to help them. They were clean, and when they saw the need of the captives they took them to their village and opened their homes to them. A neat church was also turned over to their use. The natives stripped their gardens and fed them with all the food they had. After the raider had sailed away, a canoe set out through the night for Boiliu on Mussau, some twenty miles to the north, where there was a thirty-five-foot Diesel-powered mission launch. The launch was needed to carry word to Kavieng, about eighty miles southwest of Emirau, the nearest government post from which help could be summoned.

The night was dark and the sea choppy, but for ten long hours those paddles steadily dipped, driving that canoe on for help. Soon after breakfast the next morning the launch was back at Emirau being prepared for its dash to take the news to the outside world. Two days later a British ship hove-to off the island and took the captives back to civilization. The people thanked those natives again and again. The government tried to pay them, but they refused any payment except a few cases of meat and several bags of rice. Naturally there is a story behind it, and it is worth retelling.

In 1931 Nafetali (Napthali), a young Fijian evange­list, with his wife, Vasiti, and two children, Tina and Joe, went to work on Mussau. The natives were savages of the worst kind, and the going was hard, for they did not want to come to church, nor did they want Nafetali to go to their villages and preach. Tina and Joe were just ordinary Adventist children and did day by day the tasks that were their lot.

Nafetali felt that he was not making any progress, and he became ill with worry. At this time some miles away a man died in a village, and the chief thought he would have a Christian burial. A messenger came for Nafetali, but he was too sick to go. "I am sorry," he said, "I do not have the physical strength."

Just then little Tina, eleven years old, said, "But, Daddy, I could go."

"My dear little daughter, I couldn't think of it," Nafetali said. "It would not be safe. It just wouldn't be. You don't understand."

Tina said, "But Joe would go with me." Joe was eight years old. Tina and Joe wanted to go so much that at last their father bade them go and do the best they could.

They took hold of the hands of their savage guide and walked ten miles through the jungle, and two hundred semi-naked savages sat around while they sang a hymn and read 1 Corinthians 15. Then they told the men to wrap the body in a mat and to dig a hole, and the savages did it just as they were told. At the graveside the two children read and prayed and sang some more while the dead man was buried. Then they caught hold of hands and walked ten miles home alone. Before the father got better the call was repeated three times, and three times those children braved the terrors of the jungle.

After the father recovered there was a change. The savages wanted him to come and tell the stories from the Golden Book, and they wanted to send their children to his school so they could pray like little Joe and little Tina, and it was not very long before every soul on that island, more than two thousand of them, had cast away their heathenism and had become Christians.

I think Tina and Joe were the happiest people in the world when they saw the results of their little deeds of love. I am sure Tina and Joe had a joy impressed on their faces and a light on their countenances that everybody could see. The influence of what happened on Mussau spread to Emirau. Nine years later, on that twenty-first day of De­cember, 1940, the prisoners on the raider shared in that joy.

Through Isaiah, God tells how everybody can obtain the light of a beautiful Christian personality: "Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wicked­ness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward." Isaiah 58:6-8.

From an unknown writer comes this gem: "The Lord has given to every man his work. It is his business to do it, and the devil's business to hinder him if he can. So sure as God has given you a work to do, Satan will try to hinder you. He may throw you from it; he may present other things more promising. He may allure you by worldly prospects, he may assault you with slander, torment you with false accusations, set you at work defending your character, employ pious persons to lie about you, and excellent men to slander you. You may have Pilate and Herod, Annas and Caiaphas all combined against you, and Judas standing by you ready to sell you for thirty pieces of silver, and you may wonder why all these things come upon you. Can you not see that the whole thing is brought about through the craft of the devil, to draw you off from your work and hinder your obedience to God?

"Keep about your work. Do not flinch because the lion roars; do not stop to stone the devil's dogs; do not fool away your time chasing the devil's rabbits. Do your work. Let liars lie, let sectarians quarrel, let corporations resolve, let editors publish, let the devil do his worst; but see to it that nothing hinders you from fulfilling the work God has given you.

"He has not sent you to make money. He has not commanded you to get rich. He has never bidden you defend your character. He has not set you at work to contra­dict falsehood which Satan and his servants may start to peddle. If you do these things you will do nothing else; you will be at work for yourself and not for the Lord.

"Keep about your work. Let your aim be as steady as a star. Let the world brawl and babble. You may be as­saulted, wronged, insulted, slandered, wounded, and rejected; you may be abused by foes, forsaken by friends, and despised and rejected of men, but see to it with steadfast determination, with unfaltering zeal, that you pursue the great purpose of your life and object of your being until at last you can say, `I have finished the work which Thou gayest me to do."'

So I challenge you, young men and women, to go work in the Master's vineyard today. Go find the place where you can serve God better than anyone else. Leave your ceaseless round of selfish pleasure, your soft and easy ways, where warm and well content you draw down the shades at eventide, say your comfortable prayers, and easily forget.

Go with Christ to the mountain; then filled with power, go down with Christ to the multitude. Go where it is dark, and souls long for light; where it is cold, and souls long for warmth; where they are hungry, and souls long to be fed; where they are weak, and long to be strong; where they are sick, and long to be well.

Go down where the battle is hard, where men and women struggle and fail, and struggle and fail again, where selfishness and greed cause souls to sink in discouragement and despair. Go where the deadly grind of poverty has robbed the life of happiness, and robbed the face of its joy; where the curse of liquor makes children cry and women shriek. Go point them to the Christ of Calvary, the way, the truth, and the life. Go tell them the Bible is true. Go tell them Christ is coming again to receive "whosoever believeth" unto Himself, and to give them a mansion in His Father's house.

Somewhere, somebody needs the comfort only you can give; somebody needs the song that only you can sing; somebody needs the strength that only you can impart; somebody needs the joy that only you can share.

Go, therefore, lose your lives in the furrow of the world's great need, for "except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." John 12:24.

"He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." Psalm 126:6.

Happiness TOC