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The Measure of Success

By: Lydia Camp

 

What is the measure of a success?

Let’s start with the most basic definition according to Miriam Webster:

  1. Favorable or desired outcome
  2. The attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence

Depending on what generation you grew up in, success may be measured by your level of education or training, or how long you’ve held a stable job. Maybe it’s measured by how much money you make, or how early you can retire. The younger generation may lean towards measuring success by how happy and satisfied one is with their work and their relationships. According to my teenage boys, modern-day success could be measured by how many followers one has on social media, or how many views on youtube. This boils down to two things: popularity and money. The context may have changed, but as the author of Ecclesiastes states in 1:9 “there is nothing new under the sun”.

As believers and followers (disciples) of Jesus, are we allowing the world’s measurement of success to influence our own idea of success? Not that having things or being well-known in and of itself is a sin. But do we use money and status as a measurement of a successful Christian life? Or do we understand that the kingdom of God is upside-down compared to the world (or is it the world that is upside-down compared to the kingdom of God)?

“Do not set the affections of your heart on this world or in loving the things of this world. The love of the Father and the love of the world are incompatible. For all that the world can offer us – the gratification of our flesh, the allurement of the things of the world, and the obsession with status and importance – none of these things come from the Father but from the world. This world and its desires are in the process of passing away, but those who love to do the will of God live forever.” 1 John 2:15-17

Obeying God is costly.

“If you truly want to follow me, you should at once completely reject and disown your own life. And you must be willing to share my cross and experience it as your own, as you continually surrender to my ways. For if you choose self-sacrifice and lose your lives for my glory, you will continually discover true life. But if you choose to keep your lives for yourselves, you will forfeit what you try to keep. For even if you were to gain all the wealth and power of this world with everything it could offer you – at the cost of your own life – what good would that be? And what could be more valuable to you than your own soul?” Matt 16:24-28

“’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matt 22:37-40

He goes on further to explain in John 14:15, “If you love me, obey my commandments.” the TPT version states it this way: “Loving me empowers you to obey my commands.” “If someone claims, “I have come to know God by experience,” yet doesn’t keep God’s commands, he is a phony, and the truth finds no place in him. But the love of God will be perfected within the one who obeys God’s Word. We can be sure that we’ve truly come to live in intimacy with God, not just by saying, “I am intimate with God,” but by walking in the footsteps of Jesus.

 

According to Jesus, the kingdom’s measurement of success has to do with how well we love and obey Him with all we are, how well we love ourselves and our neighbors.

If we love him, we obey him. If we obey him, we love him.

“Don’t you realize that grace frees you to choose your own master? But choose carefully, for you surrender yourself to become a servant – bound to the one you choose to obey. If you choose to love sin, it will become your master, and it will own you and reward you with death. But if you choose to love God and obey God, he will lead you into perfect righteousness.” Rom 6:16

No matter how one defines it, in order to have success, we must succeed, correct?

Miriam Webster defines succeed:

1.To come next after another in office or position or in possession of an estate especially: to inherit sovereignty, rank, or title.

  1. to follow after another in order

Do you see it? We are followers of Christ and co-heirs with Him. We are God’s children, adopted into His royal family. We are given the Holy Spirit to indwell us. We are priests. We succeed Jesus. Our true identity is found here, in our succeeding. This is how we should succeed.

True success is found in succeeding Jesus.

We have a Living God who speaks to each of us in personal and unique ways. His written word is our standard for knowing His voice, and we can trust His Word. His Spirit indwells us, witnessing of His truth. If we trust and believe Him and what He says, and DO what He is tells us to do, well, THIS is obedience. THIS is love.

Know His voice. Surrender to His Word.

Jesus, open our spiritual ears to hear You, our eyes to see what You want to show us. If there is any area in our lives that looks more like the world, and in which we’ve been measuring by the standards of this world, would you show us? We want to repent and turn from those things. Cleanse us from the spots of this world and set us on Your path of righteousness. We want to have Your thoughts and ideas of kingdom success. Have we been loving the world? Have we truly been loving you, Jesus? Shine Your pure healing light into our hearts and lives to rightly align us with Your Truth. What is the thing we need to do in obedience to You? What do we need to lay down to You in surrender? Help us to lay it all down, to lay ourselves down, all in surrender to you. Let our actions speak “We love You”, not just our words and our songs. Forgive us for any lip-service. All we have is Yours. Our lives are not our own. You have bought them, we are Yours. Take all we have, all we are, and use it for Your glory. Make us more like You. In Your name, Jesus.