Graduation: Looking Ahead
West Columbia, Texas
Graduation from some level of schooling or training is a stepping-stone. It means that someone has been looking ahead, planning ahead, and making preparation for the future. It is a time of memories and reflections, but also a time to look to the future and to move forward in life. As we look ahead in life, we must also look above for guidance and direction from God. God gave the Bible as "a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path" (Psa. 119:105). What does God's Word say to the graduate?
1. Life comes in steps and stages. "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up" (Eccl. 3:lff). Every stage of life has its peculiar struggles and rewards. "Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit" (7:8). Patience, preparation, and persistence pay off. There will be days of prosperity and days of adversity. We cannot go back to the past, but must go forward from one step and stage to another. What, then, does it all mean?
2. Rejoice and remember God. Is it possible to make sense out of the struggles and cycles of life on earth? Yes! While we are young, God wants us to learn to rejoice in the blessings of life and to put our trust in him as the Sustainer and Guide of our lives.
Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth . . . .
Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth.
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil (Eccl. 11:9; 12:1, 13-14).
The full meaning, purpose, and happiness of life is found in serving God. To love, honor, and obey God is man's wholeness. Sin dishonors God, brings many sorrows, and ends in the eternal torment of hell. Every one of us will face God in Judgment Day, and spend eternity with God in heaven or away from God in hell (1 Thess. 4:17; 2 Thess. 1:7-10).
3. Be a faithful Christian. When young people come to an age of knowing right and wrong, and doing wrong, they can understand the truth of God's pronouncement, "All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). We cannot escape or remove our sins, but Jesus died on the cross as the gift of God's love to provide a perfect sacrifice for our sins (Jn. 3:16; Rom. 5:8-9). We lay hold on God's free gift of pardon when we meet the conditions of faith in the gospel, repentance from all sin, confession of Christ, and immersion in water (Mk. 16:16; Rom. 10:10; Acts 2:38). Then, we must be faithful to assemble with God's people for worship and faithful to serve God in our daily lives.
4. Be unselfish, honest, and diligent in all things. To "love thy neighbor as thyself" is the second great commandment, next to loving God (Matt. 22:39). Unselfish love will make us honest and diligent in all the affairs of life. "Love worketh no ill to his neighbor" - it excludes adultery, murder, stealing, lying, covetousness, and such like (Rom. 13:9-10). We can work hard and excel as we make a living for our family, "provide things honest in the sight of all men," and help people who are in need (Eph. 4:28; Rom. 12:17). Alcohol, illegal drugs, and gambling may be popular in certain circles, but such practices lead to many hurtful temptations and to the abuse of our fellow man.
5. Keep yourself pure for marriage, and pure in marriage. God made the sexual nature of mankind as a blessing in marriage, but immorality involves the perversion of this capacity. "Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge" (Heb. 13:4). It may appear "exciting" to try sex outside of marriage, "but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body" (1 Cor. 6:18). This perversion of a unique gift from God brings dreadful curses upon ourselves and our partners in sin. Resolve to marry someone who is worthy of your love and trust. Plan to spend a lifetime with this one, and this one alone. "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder" (Matt. 19:4-9).
Guardian of Truth XXXV: 13, p. 389