You—or someone you know—may soon be graduating. I extend my congratulations! Whether you set new academic records or not, you finished. You saw it through. I commend you. Before that happens, however, let me give you four simple commandments that apply to anyone who is graduating. My thoughts grow out of the final four verses of 2 Timothy 3.
1. Don't stop your learning. Paul urges his friend Timothy to "continue in the things you have learned" (3:14). It is one thing to take a course, to complete one's work, to earn a diploma or a degree; it's another thing to become a student for the rest of your life: to remain hungry for knowledge, to stay curious, to read widely, to be adventurous, creative, on a never-ending pursuit of truth.
2. Don't forget your leaders. As Paul reminds his friend to continue in those things he has learned, he adds, "knowing from whom you have learned them." Timothy needed to remember, to stay near, to thank the teachers who had impacted his life and contributed to his growth.
3. Don't discount your legacy. Timothy's heart didn't just happen to be open and sensitive to spiritual things. He was the product of a legacy, a spiritual continuum. His mentor, Paul, affirms, "For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice" (1:5).
4. Don't ignore your Lord. As Paul closes these very personal lines to his younger friend, he returns to "the sacred writings" and assures Timothy that "all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable . . . that the man [and the woman] of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work" (3:16-17). In effect he was saying that God's Word would remain a reliable, profitable source of nutritious food throughout his life and was exhorting him to stay close to the Lord, regardless.
And so, graduate, continue feeding on God's Word. Stay near the only One who can lead you safely on your journey.
For those of you for whom graduation is a dim memory, the admonition remains the same: Don't stop your learning. Don't forget your leaders. Don't discount your legacy. Don't ignore your Lord.