Here is a valedictorian’s address heard at a recent graduation that was a blessing to my own soul.
Dear friends, family, and my fellow graduates,
We’ve learned a lot over the past several years, haven’t we? Between our friends and professors and everyone else who has crossed our paths, we’ve received so much teaching. Some of it has been long forgotten, some will resurface at crucial points in the future, and some will stick with us for the rest of our lives.
It was two years ago that I was taught something that has stuck with me and has already made a huge difference in my life and I’d like to share it with you this morning. It was a dreary morning in economics class, about the time in the semester when the newness has worn off but the end is still out of sight. I pulled out my laptop and began taking notes about the tradeoffs people make in business and how we respond to incentives. And then I heard the definition of opportunity cost.
Opportunity cost is the amount of one thing you are willing to give up in order to obtain something else. For example, the cost of our Cornerstone tuition is not just the amount on the checks we send in, but it is also the amount of money we are not making at a full-time job while we’re in school. On the other hand, the opportunity cost of not going to school could be working a $10 an hour job for the rest of our lives instead of getting an education and making more in the future.
But there’s far more than dollars to the idea of opportunity cost. Each of our lives is a series of decisions in which we choose certain opportunities at the expense of others. We might need to choose whether we’re going to sleep in at the expense of our devotions, sit on social media when we have a chance to interact with real people, make and hoard plenty of money instead of sharing it with missions, or keep to ourselves when we have a chance to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.
God willing, we have a lifetime of opportunities spread out before us, chances to show the world Who Christ is and what mercy can do in a life and why the gospel is crucial. You might have said the sinner’s prayer when you were 7 but are you taking the opportunities God Himself has put in your path? The opportunity cost of living for our own happiness alone is priceless because it could include the salvation of souls! Matthew 16:26 says, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
As you walk out of this building into the “real world,” what are you willing to give up for your own soul or for the soul next to you? Would you give up your life? Your career? Would you trade in comfortable living if that was the cost of a soul? Your phone? An hour of free time? What is the opportunity cost of a soul? I don’t know; I can’t give you a dollar value or a set amount of time or a certain level of uncomfortableness and say, “If you give this, a soul will be saved.” You won’t know until you reach heaven’s gate if God used opportunities you took to be used in His soul-saving work. Maybe the opportunity cost of a soul will be your life on the mission field, maybe it will be giving up a promotion in order to be home with your family, maybe it will be making time for a person who no one else makes time for, maybe it will be a smile and a word of encouragement.
But whatever the God-glorifying opportunity is, I hope that with God’s help, you take it. Thank you.