How do you define success? Is it the amount of money in your retirement account or perhaps the cash you have at your fingertips? Is it the car you drive or the house in which you live? Maybe you would define success by the job you hold, the company you keep or the possessions you own. The more altruistic might say their success is reflected in their family or friends. As Christians we might shake our head and acknowledge those to be ways the world defines success, but not ways in which we would ever describe it. Yet when I look at my life and that of fellow believers, I cannot help but wonder if we are any different at all; in what ways are we truly setting ourselves apart from those who do not choose to follow Christ?
The people in my faith fellowship generally have jobs, decent clothing and drive nice cars. They go out to eat after church and have no problem slapping down a few hundred dollars to go watch a concert or professional sporting event. Worse, most of the people I know (including myself) have walked by a homeless person without extending a hand to help. Yet if you asked those same people if they consider themselves successful, I’d venture to say that most would affirm that they were to a certain extent. I’m guessing many of you – like me – would as well. We have been deceived into believing success has anything to do with earthly possessions or achievements.
True success is found only within the framework of carrying out the mission Jesus gave us to do. Followers of Christ will define their success by how much glory they are able to ascribe to their King. If we are not promoting an attitude of service or reflecting the love of God to those in need, we are failing to do the very things we have been called to do. Failure is the opposite of success, and inasmuch as we are not following in the footsteps of Jesus, we are failing at life. Every item we purchase, every promotion we get, every accolade we receive – these are all signs of failure if they are not done for the glory of God and to further His kingdom. Every step outside of God’s will is a misstep. And what exactly is God’s will? To love the Lord with all your heart (Matthew 22:34-40) and to demonstrate that love by looking after orphans and widows (James 1:27); by caring for the poor, the sick, the homeless and those in prison (Matthew 25:31-46). We are saved by grace for the purpose of then demonstrating that same grace to others (Ephesians 2:8-10).
As followers of Jesus, we are successful only insofar as we are demonstrating His love to others. We are successful when we are obeying His commands and doing the things He told us to do. We are successful when we keep our eyes focused on Him and keep ourselves unstained by the things of this world (James 1:27). Our success is not measured in dollars and cents, but rather in obedience and service. This is the success that brings peace. As long as we are pursuing the things of this world, we will find only discontent, discouragement and frustration; and that never really feels like success. Be careful to not be deceived by allowing Satan to twist your perception of success. Seek your treasure only in the Kingdom of God, for nothing can destroy what you accomplish for the glory of Christ. True success is found only on our knees, bowing in humble submission at the feet of Jesus.