First of all, we must determine the definition of success, and who is defining it. Assuredly there is more than one meaning or description; and. to arrive at an honest, well-thought-out answer, we must all be in agreement. In this world, for an individual to succeed, certain goals must be met, and their monetary fortune must reflect that achievement. God does not put such requirements on individuals in order to call them successful. Financial success is only temporal at best and is lacking when expressing one’s true character. To be physically rich and spiritually poor is a miserable trade, and to possess enough money to buy the world while lacking the spiritual wealth to gain a mansion in heaven is a total loss. “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?” (Matthew16-26).
Few here on earth will gain the financial wherewithal to own the world, but every man has been given the potential to possess a heavenly mansion. What is financial success all about, and why is the truth sometimes so misleading? Blinded eyes and unregenerate hearts have led men into a position of compromise, and many have willingly given up a spiritual birthright for a moment of passion and glory. Think about it. What is this world truly worth? As I think about earthly wealth, I find myself somewhat indifferent about its deceptive nature or true importance. How do you call someone successful, when that acquisition that has classified them as successful can be momentarily taken away. In many cases the loss of fortunes has caused shame and sudden death. The term success or affluence infers liberation as in the case of want or need; but, in many lives it is responsible for fostering greed and total ruin. In my mind, enough will always be enough; and too much will always be unnecessary and unneeded. I would not suggest that I could ever know or even imagine the true worth of this world, but this one thing I do know. My mansion in heaven far outweighs the value of a thousand worlds. The true emphasis of value must relate to my eternal soul, and this earth cannot do anything to grant me absolution. God has placed the value of my soul above the dying of His only Son; His love for me is the only thing that can be considered truly priceless. It is not the presence of man or his ability to choose that is of the utmost importance. This world does not revolve around humanity in the sense that he is the only contributing character. Long before the presence of man was the existence of God and His creations. Man was only brought into being, because of the deep desire of an all-powerful God and His longing for companionship. Before the creation of man, angels graced the heavens and were responsible for all worship and praise. Satan, in his arrogance of heart, attempted to place his position above God’s, and was cast out of heaven for doing so (Isaiah 14:12-17). Satan was accountable to God, and he, because of arrogance and pride, became boastful and unruly.
Accountability can bring us many rewards, or it can doom us to failure. If we choose to do right, then we will be rewarded for our decision to remain faithful. If we choose to do those things that are evil and ill-advised, then we will be punished for our lack of integrity. The choice is ours. We will choose His ardent gift, or we will be left with those things that defeat and condemn us. The confrontation of God and Satan occurred before the creation of man and has been ongoing for thousands of years. Satan, in his continual attempt to defeat God, and his outright contempt for Him, has directed all his indignation into the destruction of man. To consider the precarious position that man finds himself in, suggests to me that any form of success must first be obtained by his act of humility, asking God for His forgiveness. Man is no threat to the powers of Satan; and, without the redeeming powers of an almighty God, has no possibility of victory. Hence, the scene has been set; the battle has begun; but the final outcome has already been determined. Glory to a gracious God, for He has given everything to insure our victory. The final outcome has been placed in the hands of every individual who has walked this planet. You have to decide your own destiny. You do not have to wonder what the future will hold, or what sacrifice will be required of you in order to obtain the possibility of a reprieve. The work has all been accomplished; the sacrifice has already been blessed; and yours is only to receive the gift. What is so wonderful, is that even though man is so powerless, so weak, through the magnificence of Christ, he can be made strong.
Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. Hebrews 1:3. In the act of forgiveness, God gave Himself to man as a perfect sacrifice. Through the blood of a spotless lamb, man has been given that second chance to obtain God’s eternal Paradise. In the act of redemption, all must be given; as Jesus gave His all, so must we who choose His salvation. Consider the word all. You must be willing to give everything. In the mind of man, success is considered as obtaining worldly wealth; while, in the mind of God, it is man accepting His eternal forgiveness. As I compare the two, I see little similarity in their intrinsic value or true purpose. God’s gift is given to man from a heart that is selfless and unrestricted, while man only seeks to respond to his sinful nature. I do not suggest or intend to inferr that wealth is sinful, only that a passion to obtain earthly wealth, without a thought of the spiritual, is unbeneficial. Success in the heart and mind of God infers eternal blessings, while with man its profit is only temporal and short lived. While trusting in God and by faith learning to depend upon His grace will insure man’s eternal triumph, the dependence upon material possessions to gain worldly success or power will only give us those things that are worthless and without eternal benefit.
As I view the lives of the affluent or wealthy, I am not instantly made aware of their apparent satisfaction or unparallel joy. I am not impressed by their unselfish manner or their deep humility; and, in my questioning spirit, I ask myself, “What good has their massive wealth afforded them?” Assuredly, we must admit that all individuals who possess large fortunes do not represent or follow the same characteristics or pattern; but wealth, in and of itself, is not an assurance of unmitigated bliss. Life and its claim to true fulfillment can only come from that source or energy that created it, and to suggest anything in opposition is to show ignorance and to perpetrate a lie. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1). What better words to express the loving tenderness of a gracious God. As we, by faith, trust in His eternal grace, we are given the solace not to fear. As the Psalmist said, “I shall not want.” Placing your faith in an all-powerful God will inevitably place Him in the position of constant provider. When you rest your faith and trust upon God, you are only releasing the bound less benefits that He has stored up in Heaven for all who believe. Faith and trust in Him is the key that unlocks His unlimited blessings. Gods’ promises have all been given, and His Word is forever secure. The assurance that He provides can never be removed; it can only be possessed by true faith in Him. He is not required to do all that man has requested, but He will always honor His Word. The commitment of God is provided by His deep desire to be found faithful. To depend upon God is never irrational, and to presume Him to be reliable is showing true wisdom. The true motivation of God comes from His ardent love and His desire to bless those He has chosen to call His children. Success in its truest form is not something we have earned, but is given us from a loving God. In essence, we cannot claim to have worked for it; it is the gift of love. To God, meeting the needs of His children is not difficult or problematic. God does not question His ability to do so but is only anxiously waiting to hear the cries of His children. He wants to be our provider; He wants to meet our daily needs. He wants to be our true success. While also caring for our concerns, He only wants to gain a deeper fellowship with us, His children; He wants to again prove His love for us. Giving to His children will not bankrupt the treasury of heaven; that was only done when He chose to leave heaven to die for the sins of man. Just imagine how God the Father took the massive wealth of heaven in the form of His only Son and deposited it here upon this earth. What greater blessing could we have ever received? By far, the only thing greater is when that wealth is placed within the heart of a believing child. What brighter hope, what more splendid blessing, than that of having our creator become our Savior? Obtaining His eternal forgiveness and the hope of Paradise, what better definition could there be for the word, success?
So many of the topics I have chosen to discuss are interrelated and in truth cannot be altered or separated. There is only one God; and everything that pertains to Him will be found important and necessary. Repetition should not be considered redundant but is necessary to arrive at a comprehensive solution or response. As we wander here on earth, searching for a purpose, for something to make sense out of life, to give us a reason, we stumble over the one and only true reason for living. Driven to succeed, we place our affections and determination upon the only things we see as beneficial and profitable. Sin has severed that perfect relationship and has made it impossible to achieve without the healing power of a spotless sacrifice. To have a real, personal relationship with the one who spoke us into being is what our true existence is all about. Success of any kind must be directed and maintained by our constant faith and trust in Him. Success cannot be thought of as man-made; and, to finalize your expectations on something as trivial and undependable as humanity, will guarantee you pain and remorse. God created us for His fellowship, and we will never be at peace with ourselves or with one another without the fulfillment of that dream. As Adam did cleave unto his wife, Eve, so it is that we should cling unto our Creator. God did not intend for man to be lonely, but the deep feeling of loneliness can only be quenched by a close relationship with Him. The feelings He had experienced before He created man were not the feelings that He wished to bestow upon man. God’s Word talks about His ability to feel our pain, to understand our problems, to sympathize with our feelings; He knows and is truly concerned about all of His children. He knew what loneliness was all about, and He did not want His fondest creation to experience its remorse. In showing man His desire to love, God placed man in the only location he could be in to obtain complete victory.
How could it be possible for us to gain any form of success without God’s complete om-nipotence? As I have said before, we must live in order to love; but we must also live if we are to consider ourselves successful. God’s responsibility is not just taking care of His children. He must also see that His universe is in complete harmony. The sun must be in its proper orbit; the rain must fall to bless a parched earth; the seasons must come to continue the process of nature; yes, and He must be in total command of it all. What kind of success would man experience if these things did not occur? The reason God must stay in control of all the elements should be evident; the world would cease to exist if He did not do so, right? How could anyone consider this to be just a freak of nature? How could anyone be so bold as to suggest that everything exists on its own, and is not directly attributed to its creator? The success or the continuation of nature to function, is about God and His desire to meet our needs. The success of God is His ability to bring about all that He needs and wants to do. You may think that I am being too liberal with my definition of success, but what form of success would be characteristic of a world that is inoperable and dying? Without God everything would cease to exist. If the world were destroyed, what would happen to His children? One day this world will be destroyed; but, its destruction will not be accomplished by indulgent, inconsiderate man. God has exhibited His intimate love for His children throughout all of time. He has not shown such a love to any other part of His creation. God did not create man to worship His creation, but to worship Him, the creator. If He were disappointed or dissatisfied with things the way they are, could He not choose to begin again?
You might think that God looks at His creation as a whole, just one big, organized concoction; but the Bible says that He died once for all. The idea of individualism is not strictly a humanistic word; God looks at each person as a distinctively unique individual. He deals with each person as an individual, one on one. God in His Word talks about His knowing our name (Luke 10-20) and about His knowing the number of hairs upon our head (Matthew 10:30). His blessings are not delivered indiscriminately, or in a, you win, you lose manner but are measured out to achieve His desired purpose. God knows our potential, He knows our abilities, and He also knows our shortcomings. He has a formula for doing everything that He does; that formula is love. His love insures a genuine desire to be personal, to be honestly concerned about each detail, to always measure each action with its effect upon our survival. The constant supervision of God is necessary for our success. His desire to meet with us one-on-one assures us that we will not be left out or forgotten. Our abilities and our potentials are given by Him. If we are living to honor Him then our motivations are from Him. If we are living for the moment and our desire is to feed the flesh, we do not honor Him; and our lives are not in His will. The love of God not only compels Him to be generous, but it also guides Him into all truth. Truth can be viewed in several aspects, such as being honest, or being truthful with each other, or as being the standard or permissive law of God. The universe was created on the law of order; and, for all things to remain consistent, those laws must be maintained. To function, we must have an order or an understanding that is agreed to and obeyed by everyone. Man has not been given the right to choose what is honesty or what constitutes the truth. We are not granted the right of selection, but are governed by a universal quality of truth. God sets the standard, and man is given the opportunity to obey or disobey. If we are to gain success by defraud and corruption, how do we justify it as being truly successful? If I am to be considered liberal for my definition of success, then what do you call someone who is corrupt or deceptive? God will not permit the deceit of defiant man to go unpunished.
As a child, I would often hear, “Honesty is the best policy,” or, “It is a sin to tell a lie.” Hearing and remembering such statements, I can also remember what would happen when I was caught in a lie or trying to cheat. The success of my rare deception was soon to be considered a sham, and I would be punished accordingly. I found little comfort in doing the unseemly, and soon learned that, honesty was the best policy. One of the “Thou shall not’s” in the book of Exodus states, “Thou shall not bear false witness.” It commands us not to be dishonest and not to lie. In the wisdom of God, He has told us that lying is deceitful and will not be tolerated. Why is it that so many are dishonest, but when they have been lied to or cheated, they become aggressively intolerant to those who have cheated them? “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same” (Luke 6:31-33). Dishonesty escalates into deeper difficulties and causes havoc and discord. Murder, revenge, and hatred are all products of a lying tongue and are in no way to be present in the lives of God’s children. Gaining worldly success at the risk of loosing your soul is a bad investment; while expecting God to accept your prosperity as your payment for sin will never be considered acceptable.
If we are to be found worthy of God’s forgiveness, we must be willing to humble ourselves as He has required. “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success” (Joshua 1:8). As we study God’s Word, we are made aware of His requirements. God has given us so much, and if we are to be successful, we must do those things He has commanded. Our prosperity and abundance will correspond to our willingness to obey. Doing the things that God has required in His Word, will bring us success, as it draws us ever nearer to His ever-present