This is a foundational question that can make a big difference in how you live your life, evaluate your life, and in how you feel about your life. What is success? Is it more money, lots of laughter, great relationships, an upward career path, accomplishing a list, or becoming a better person? These would be the answers that you would expect in the Christian or secular world, but God has something to say about the matter. READ ON – THIS COULD CHANGE YOUR LIFE!
In Joshua chapter 1, Moses has died and God is now using Joshua to lead the Hebrews into the Promised Land. God is talking to Joshua and in verse 7 He tells him, “Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go.” In other words, be obedient. That’s Christian success. It isn’t following a formula, or paying more penance, or being better. For a Christian:
obedience = success
Usually, I tend to look to the results of my labors to determine my success. For example, if I witness to someone, and he accepts Jesus as His Savior, then I am successful. In 1 Corinthians 3:7, we find these words: “So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.” God says that if we are obedient to plant and water, the results are up to Him. In other words, if I know that I am to witness to a person out of obedience to God’s word or His direct impression upon my spirit and I do so to the best of my ability, whether or not he accepts Jesus as his Savior, I am a success! Has God called me to teach? Then I am to teach. If only two small boys show up, I still teach as if I am teaching to a thousand. If I am to serve, then I serve as unto the Lord Jesus, Himself. If He asks me to administer grace then grace it is. The results do not clarify my success. My obedience does.
The next verses in 1 Corinthians 3 talk about the work that will be burned up and the work that will pass through the fire. It would stand to reason that the work that burns up is the work that we determine to do in and of our own strength. It is done not out of obedience, but rather out of selfish ambition or trying to gain our own salvation. The work that will pass through the fire is work done out of obedience. God calls; we answer and obey.
Pretend, for example’s sake, that you wake up one morning and you decide to fry an egg. We tend to think that if we fry an egg and the yolk is whole, then we have succeeded. If we fry the egg and the yolk breaks, we have failed. (I tend to fail at this task regularly!) But if we look at obedience as our measure of success and God asks us to fry an egg and we choose to fry an egg out of obedience, we are successful whether the yolk breaks or not!
So whether you are trying to succeed as a parent, a worker, a spouse, a homeschooling mom, or a friend, if you are doing this task with all your heart because you feel that God has called you to it, then you are a success! If your spouse walks out, your child goes into rebellion, you lose your job, etc… you are not a failure. Others have free will. You are not responsible for their choices – only your own.
This perspective can bring such freedom. Walk in obedience and know success in your Father’s eyes.