News of the death of Apple Computers co-founder and technology innovator Steve Jobs shocked the world on Wednesday. The 56-year old Jobs had been sick for some time, and recently stepped down as CEO of Apple because of health issues, but we still just didn’t see it coming. The man who was called the “Thomas Edison of our time” impacted his generation like few have ever done.
Among the many tributes to Jobs the last two days, one of the most played videos of him are his words in a commencement address at Stanford University in 2005, about a year after he was first diagnosed with cancer. Specifically, he spoke in very frank terms about matters of life and death. Here is an excerpt of what he had to say to those graduates:
When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” …
Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
I must say I have great respect for Steve Jobs and all of his contributions to the world, many of which have benefitted the church and our ministries. Still, I would suspect that Mr. Jobs and I would have had serious differences of opinion and belief about matters of life and death and eternity–and from all I have read, I have never seen anything that suggested that he ever made the “big choice in life” to trust in Jesus Christ as His Lord and Savior. But I am not here to judge him, especially since I would have no way of knowing the matters of his heart.
That doesn’t mean I don’t agree with much of what he had to say in that speech, especially when his words are read through the lens of faith in Christ. As another man who greatly impacted his world in his generation, the apostle Paul, wrote in a Philippians verse we looked at just a few weeks ago, “to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” In other words, once you’ve come to grips with the truth that “life is terminal,” and once you’ve settled your eternity with the God who created you, then it sets you free to live passionately and “to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose,” as Jobs said. To know Christ is truly a “win, win.”
As for how we live until that day comes, I am reminded of the words of the psalmist, who said: “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12) In other words, since we can’t count our days, we need to make our days count. And, as Jobs said, one of the best ways to do that is to live today like it was your last.
Have a blessed rest of your life! I’ll see you Sunday.