Sunday, May 11, 2008

What I'd like to say to every graduate

Every day we’re faced with moral choices. The question of what’s right and wrong is always lingering around. You've had to make ethical decisions in school, and you'll continue to make them in life…even tougher choices. After you land a decent job and start making some money, you join the ranks of taxpayers. Let’s take two people preparing their taxes. Both are tempted to cheat but they don’t. One decides not to because there’s a fair chance of getting caught; the other doesn't cheat because it’s wrong.

A test of character is what it takes to stop you. Another test is what you’d do if you could get away with it. Ultimately our beliefs determine our behavior. If you believe there is such a thing as right and wrong, you’ll at least be somewhat influenced to live with some integrity, even if you don’t do it consistently. But if you really think there’s no such thing as morals, then you’ve nothing to stop you, except maybe the consequences of getting caught (if its against the law, and there’s lots of bad stuff that isn’t these days). You can’t have a moral conscience if you don’t believe in moral absolutes. Your conscience can’t be your guide if you believe “anything goes”. But if there is a God, and if He has a plan for life that includes a standard of living, then our behavior matters. We can’t just “do our own thing” without any consequences. If you don’t believe in moral absolutes, then all you’re left with is personal preferences, which can differ from one person to the next. Ethics are absolute, or arbitrary. If they’re absolute, they matter; if arbitrary, one guy’s opinion’s about as valid as the next. Does truth exist, or do we decide what’s true for us? Do we make our own rules? Many people do, because they’ve decided truth is relative.

When you go to the movies, you sometimes see some unrealistic bad guys who are very one-dimensional. They’re evil just for the sake of being evil. Most people don’t get up in the morning and ask themselves, “What would the devil do?” They don’t decide what is bad and then do it. That may be how some evil is portrayed, but it’s inaccurate and very unrealistic. Most “bad guys” do bad things because they think what they’re doing is OK. They’re convinced their behavior is right. They’re selfish because they believe pleasure is the best thing. Hitler was trying to create a master race by eliminating people he thought were inferior. And he decided the ends justified the means. What people believe--their worldview--can be scary. In life, the worldview of the guy next to you matters, and obviously so does yours.

Because there is a God, then truth exists, and it matters how we live. This means that God needs to be a vital part of your life. He will give your life meaning and purpose and hope. Jesus promised, “I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly.” Have a terrific life as you turn the next page.

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