Summary: A baccalaureate message on the way our choices determine largely how we spend our lives and where we will be in eternity.
LIFE’S GREATEST CHOICES
(A Baccalaureate Message)
"In all your ways acknowledge (know) Him and He will make straight your paths."
The Bible and literature join hands in viewing life as a journey or a road. A popular folk song says, "How many roads must a man walk down, before he knows he’s a man?" A popular gospel song says, "Life is like a mountain railroad / With an Engineer that’s brave / We must make the run successful / From the cradle to the grave." Where life goes is sometimes beyond our control as car crashes, cancer and a thousand other things come on us through no fault of our own. But even then we choose how we react and our choices determine whether we become better or bitter people. The poet says, “One ship drives east and another drives west / With the same winds that blow / Tis the set of the sail, not the strength of the gale / That determines the way it goes.”
The big question at graduation for High School students is college or career? And it may be that college is not an option because of choices you have already made in High School that kept you from making the graves you could and should have made. If so, you have already learned the valuable lesson that choices have consequences. You cannot unscramble an egg or get the toothpaste back in the tube. The Bible says, “Whatever a person sows, that shall he also reap.” We cannot unwind the clock, but we can all begin right now to make good choices
A. THE CHOICE OF COMPANIONS
“Do not be fooled; bad companions ruin good character” (1 Cor. 15 TEV) /
“A companion of fools will be destroyed.” (Prov. 19:30)
Few things in life are more important and powerful than our friends. It the horrible rash of school shootings, once common factor emerges; the killers were loners who felt they did not fit in with the crowd; and not fitting in literally drives them insane. . We need to fit in somewhere. We have to fit in somewhere. Parents make a grave mistake telling their children not to go along with the crowd. Few have the power to overcome peer pressure. What we must do, and even control, is who our children associate with.
Proverbs 13:20 says, “A companion of fools will be destroyed.” They can catch you in their troubles. In the summer after my Junior year in college my best friend and I met some other guys our age and started hanging out with them. My friend and I liked to drink beer, and have a “good time”, as we called it. One night, he and I and one of these guys went to Roberta Georgia to a dance. On the way home the guy with us wanted to stop and get a few beers. He went in and came running out, yelling, “Go! Go! Go!” He said he had gotten in a fight. The next day my friend and I were working on his dad’s farm when a Sheriff’s car from Roberta drove up. The guy with us had cut a man so bad he required over 200 stitches. The Sheriff was there to arrest us for something like attempted murder or aggravated assault. By the grace of God we knew our county Sheriff personally and he vouched for us. The facts came out, the Roberta prosecutor believed us, and we did not have to stand trial. There is a new program called “Scared Straight”, where young people are taken into prisons and hard core prisoners tell them about the horrors of prison life. One young boy on TV came out and said, “Man, I am not even going to spit on the sidewalk any more.” Well, my friend and I were scared straight. We hung out with each other and friends we knew from then on. Who you select as friends goes a long way in determining where you go in life.
The wrong friends can corrupt you. Paul said, “Bad companions ruin good character.” (1 Cor. 15) When God brought his people out of Egypt into Canaan, He told them of the horrible practices of the Canaanites and ordered them to drive them out saying, “What they do makes the land unclean, and you must not do them.” (Lev. 18:26-27). Israel disobeyed and became just like their neighbors, and that is why God let the Northern ten tribes disappear from the face of the earth. The only reason He let Judah live was so they could one day give Jesus to the world. It is friends who teach you to drive 100 MPH; to smoke and ruin your health; to take that first beer or joint or drug. Few of us have the power to go against the crowd, so it is imperative that you choose the right crowd. Billy Graham told of an old drunk who gave up alcohol. Every day, on the way to work, he would hitch his horse by a saloon, walk to the door, take a big sniff, and say, “I don’t need this any more.” Billy said if he kept doing that, the day would come when, in a weak moment, he would walk back into his old world. We cannot pray, “Lead us not into temptation” (Matt. 6), if we walk into it ourselves.