Advice For the Class of 2012
Pastor Steve Ellison
Graduation is surely an ending, but it is really a new beginning. Your whole world is about to change. Very little will stay the same. New opportunities, new responsibilities, new challenges are headed your way. You will likely live in a different house if not in a new town, or even a new state. Old friends will fade into the background and you will make new friends. In many cases, the safety net which kept you from crashing will no longer be in place. You will have to put into place a new safety net constructed by you.
Jesus gives some wonderful advice for graduates in Matthew 5:1-11, which by the way, is good advice for all of us. In verse one, we see that some people followed Jesus up the mountain. Leaving the crowd behind and following Jesus up the mountain is always a good thing to do. Reducing the noise in your life will greatly benefit you. It will enable you to hear that which is helpful. Also, the perspective is different from up there. You can see farther and more clearly. You can recognize those who have been up there with Jesus. Their problems are the same as everyone else’s, but they are not affected in the same way. They have a peace and serenity that others do not have because they follow the Guide.
Upon arriving at the top of the mountain, Jesus began to teach those who followed Him. He outlined the path to success. The new graduate needs to know how to arrive at success. Jesus began His next nine sentences with the same exact word. Most English translations of the Bible render it “blessed”. The Amplified Bible defines it this way: “happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous — with life-joy and satisfaction in God's favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions.” It seems to me that the graduate of the class of 2012 or any class would be pleased at the end of life to look back upon a life that fits this description.
These nine sentences which tell us how to become “blessed” list nine positive characteristics. If these nine things are true in our lives, we will indeed be happy and prosperous, with joy regardless of our outward condition. The first thing we must do is have a dependence on God; Christ living through us. Without that none of the other characteristics have a chance of appearing in us. We must learn to mourn over our sin, realizing that we are fools to demand justice because what we need is mercy. We must have a humble, quiet strength about us to face the financial problems, marital difficulties, betrayal, sickness, etc. that will surely come our way. If we hunger and thirst for righteousness we will be satisfied. If we hunger and thirst for comfort, pleasure, fame, fortune, etc. we will be worse than dissatisfied. If we are to receive mercy we will learn to be merciful. We must learn to forgo revenge. If we do not, there will be no mercy for us. If we only try to manicure the outside of us without purifying the inside of us, we will not see God. Having an impure heart causes us to be swamped with so many problems that we cannot see anything but the problems. Nearly every person we meet is nursing a wound. If we learn to speak a word of peace, a word of comfort, a word of encouragement, we will be loved and respected because we remind people of God.
Last but not least, Jesus reminds us that in spite of these characteristics being true in our lives, we will still have undeserved problems, but we will not face them alone. Christ has promised He will never leave us or forsake us. His sweet gaze of approval will be enough. We will be satisfied. …………email@example.com