This is the time of year when students complete their schooling and celebrate with a graduation ceremony. Often a famous politician, sports figure, movie star, or other noted person is asked to give words of advice to the graduates as they move on to a new phase in their lives. So phrases like “Think big!, Follow your dreams; Change the world, Make a difference, or Set the world on fire” are often used.
The scriptures give us some different advice that sounds almost contradictory. We gain by losing ourselves. The first law of nature is self-preservation. Not necessarily. Jesus said that those who attempt to hold on to life will lose it, and those who give up life for his sake will find it. Preoccupation with oneself is not the best way to self-discovery. To really find ourselves, we have to give ourselves to something or someone.
We gain by spending. This flies in the face of what a financial advisor would tell us. Everyone knows, we gain by saving. To the contrary, the most valuable things in life cannot be saved, but must be spent. We become strong physically by expending physical strength. Our brain is enlarged the more we use it. Gratitude and compassion expressed is the best way of keeping them and enlarging them. This is the meaning of stewardship.
We live by dying. Death is generally seen as the darkest part of our future. We look for ways to deny it. Jesus acknowledged that some people who are physically alive are spiritually dead. The father of the prodigal son said, “This son of mine was dead and has come back to life.” Unfortunately, some people never really live, and others experience spiritual death long before they die physically. Jesus’ whole life was a continual giving of self, spending of self, and dying to self.
Today’s question might be, if you were asked to give the commencement address, what is the message you would share? We are already delivering a message by the way we live.
Love, Peace, Joy