Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Society hammers into our brains the idea that success is to be measured with goods. The media claims that he who dies with the most toys wins. And we all want not only the best but the latest toys. We all want to win.

A Success Story

All humans, men and women, fall in three categories, in relationship to being successful. Those who are successful, those who aren’t successful and those who are on their way to being successful. If we were to subdivide them even further we could mention those who are on their way to success and those who were successful at one time. I don’t care who you are, we all wish to be part of the successful bunch. We all want to be somebody. We all want to make it to the top of the heap. We all want to be the Top Dog. None of us wants to end up at the pound.

In the Bible we find both those who were successful and those who weren’t. For a very logical reason we tend to identify with the successful ones. We like to hear the success stories. We like the stories with a happy ending. We like fairy tales because, at the end, they get married and live happily ever-after. There is something about prosperity and in a life of success that appeals to our most inner self. Very frequently we hear and tell the stories of successful men and women as our illustrations.

We like the stories of David and Daniel more than the stories of Judas or Cain. And there is nothing wrong with that. We should strive for success. We should try to be more like the successful men and women of biblical times.

Society hammers into our brains the idea that success is to be measured with goods. The media claims that he who dies with the most toys wins. And we all want not only the best but the latest toys. We all want to win.

I think that Edwin Robinson’s poem is appropriate to this thought:

Richard Cory

Whenever Richard Cory went downtown,

we people on the pavement looked at him.

He was a gentleman from sole to crown:

Clean, favored and imperially slim.

He was always quietly arrayed

and he was always human when he talked

but still he fluttered pulses when he said: “Good morning.”

and he glittered when he walked.

He was rich, yes, richer than a king,

and admirably schooled in every grace.

In fine, we thought that he was everything

to make its wish that we were in his place,

so we worked and waited for the light

and went without the meat and cursed the bread.

And Richard Cory, one calmed summer night

went home and put a bullet through his head.

What is this story about? About the futility of life! Being rich doesn’t necessarily means being happy. Money certainly talks, but it doesn’t sing and dance… Money can by anything but it cannot buy happiness. Do you know what our problem is? The problem with our society is that we want to measure our success with what we have or with what we can buy.

You may disagree with me but I think that the story of Richard Cory sound a lot like the story of the rich fool.

The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, what shall I do? I have no place to store my crops. Then he said, this is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger one, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, you have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.

But God said to him, you fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?

Luke 12:16-20.

Doesn’t it sound like the story of Richard Cory? Get more and more, pile up, stock up: that seems to be the experience of each one of us. Because we tend to measure success in relation to what we accumulate.

We consider this to be so important that it doesn’t matter the field we’re successful in. As long as we are successful in one area, that qualifies us as experts in many others. Let me explain this.

The Los Angeles Dodgers acquired a miracle pitcher back in 1980. He turned out to be so good that his name became a household item. He went on to win twelve games in a row. Fernandomania was born. After this you began to see Fernando Valenzuela’s face on every item you could think of. From coffee mugs to Corn Flakes boxes. What did he know about corn flakes? But the logic is if Valenzuela’s face is on the box it must be a better cereal. And believe me, East LA put aside huevos rancheros con chorizo for breakfast and started eating corn flakes for the first time.

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