To Graduates

Colossians 3:23 (NKJV)
And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men….

Years ago, I thought about writing a letter that would be given to each of my children on the day that I go to be with the Lord. I never did it, probably because I was still fairly young at the time and preoccupied with other things. However, as I thought about it, I wondered from my life’s experiences and faith just what advice about life I would offer to others. So, for what it’s worth, here it is.

Of course, it all begins with God. Always keep your life in order with Him. You grow by reading the Bible and prayer, but be sure you put it into practice or in the end it’s meaningless. Find a good church that believes the truth and which wants to serve and impact the lives of others. Don’t simply warm a church pew one day a week. Find a small group, be active in serving, tell others, and live an authentic life as a follower of Jesus. Whenever you sin, immediately confess it.

Following Jesus will be costly. He said it will be. The Devil will hate you. People who don’t live for Him will persecute you. Those who pretend to be Christian will say evil things also and even sometimes those who are Christians may misunderstand and oppose you. If someone in the church wrongs you or perhaps needs correction, follow Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 18 to go to the person and make it right. The way of God is always the best. Don’t publically humiliate them or say that’s not the way we do it. Follow the path of thinking the best of someone and forgiving others even as God has forgiven you. After all, the world won’t want something that we say we believe and don’t practice all the time. Even though it’s costly, following Jesus Christ is the one thing in life that will bring you joy in times of sorrow, peace in times of contention, and comfort when you are heartbroken.

Your home will be happiest if you make Jesus the center of your family. Remember to love each other with all your hearts. It won’t hurt to say the words “I love you” to each other daily. Keep the lines of communication open. Pray together, talk about the Bible together. From the earliest times, teach your children the importance of the Savior’s sacrifice for them and their need of Him.

Always have a heart of humility toward others. Furthermore, don’t give up on others even if they will not listen to reason and continue in a lifestyle that leads to ruin. Never forget that God is always loving and merciful. Of course, sin and wrong behavior have consequences but keep on loving that person God has placed in your path. Pray for them and give of yourself to them even if it hurts. Always trust and believe God that the Holy Spirit is with you to tell others about the love of Jesus that sent Him to die for your sins. Fear will keep you from anything and everything in life, but even worse is it will keep you from telling others that God wants to save them and forgive them of all their past.  

So, love those who are different. Jesus died for them too. Show them the love of God. It’s interesting that at the judgment in Matthew 25, the judgment rests upon how we treat the hungry, homeless, ill-clothed, and mistreated. Show others the love and compassion they need. Listen to God and see if He requires of you the blessing of sacrifice for them. When you see injustice and false charges toward another or a group, speak up for them. Don’t judge people based upon ethnicity or prejudices. Show them that God’s love for all people in Jesus Christ brings people together.

Finally, live your life to please God and not people. It won’t bring you popularity, but on the job, at school or home, at church, always make your love and obedience of God the priority. In some ways, it will give you favor with others. You will be honest and give a full day’s work for your pay for your employer. But in other ways, it will bring ridicule and perhaps persecution. You will have to have courage to speak up for Jesus and resist peer pressure to engage in momentary sinful activities. It might even cost you—a position or ridicule. Remember that your goal must be to please the only One who really counts.

Aim high. Do your best for God. Set goals for your life that are worthy of someone following Jesus Christ. Be determined that you will sacrifice to achieve those goals because it won’t be easy. Be willing to develop yourself and achieve the knowledge and skills that are required. Be assured there will be obstacles, but be determined that you will not be defeated in your pursuit of the goals which God has laid on your heart.