My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man. (Proverbs 3:1-4 ESV)
Success is one of the chief desires in our culture. Many people make a good living selling their formula for success in books, seminars, and on TV programs. The focus of this present cultural attitude is more about what we do and have as opposed to who we are. We define success by a man’s profession and how much money he makes. Such an attitude makes our definition of success very limited. One could argue that a person is a success because he is a famous athlete who has broken many records. However, our athlete may have been divorced three times, currently uses drugs, and never sees his children. In modern America, having lots of money may be the current criteria for success, but is dying with the most toys all that it is cracked-up to be?
When God spoke to Joshua about success, He told him: “Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” (Joshua 1:7-8) God says that real success is contingent upon obeying His Word. The Bible speaks to all the issues of life, not just our professions. When we obey God’s Word, our “way” will be “prosperous.” God’s view of success focuses on who we are.
The New Testament English word “way” is translated from the Greek word “hodos.” It literally means “road – a route to a destination.” It was also used often in a figurative sense, as a “means – a vehicle to a destination.” Therefore, perhaps our focus should be on living successfully (according to God’s Word) as we pursue our goals and calling in life. This view places more emphasis on the means than the result. With God, living in Biblical faithfulness is the true measure of success. Your character is more important to Him than your portfolio.
God is concerned with right living. There is no greater success in the Christian life than living a godly life with what God has given you. Hear the voice of the writer of Proverbs who says, “… give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.” (Proverbs 30:8-9 ESV)
Count it all joy, my friend. Obeying God in Christian conduct and faithfulness – in the life that God has provided you – are the only successes that count. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33 ESV)