Summary: Jesus knew that human success is often a temptation that leads to greater worries, riches and troubles in this life. The Lord Jesus said, "Still, others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth

How Jesus Measures Success

Illustration: One thing I do, . . . I press toward the goal. --Philippians 3:13-14

In Daniel Schaeffer’s book on Esther, Dancing With A Shadow, he summarizes with a single sentence the lives of each of the main characters in that wonderful Old Testament book. For Ahasuerus, the powerful warrior king of Persia, it was: "Success in life is all in the planning." For the faithful Mordecai: "The price of obedience is never too high." And for Queen Esther: "What I am is more important than what I have." She proved it when she risked her crown (and life) to intercede with Ahasuerus on her people’s behalf.

I was discussing these one-line descriptions with some co-workers who were also reading Schaeffer’s book. Someone wondered how we might summarize in a single statement our purpose for living. One woman candidly admitted, "My only goal in life is to catch up." Sound familiar? For others it might be, "To have as little trouble in life as I can." Or you may say with Haman, "You can never have too much."

But as followers of Jesus Christ, we should be able to say with the apostle Paul, "One thing I do, . . . I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:13-14).

Is that the purpose of your life? --DCE

Do you pursue a life of wealth and fame?

A mocking epitaph is all you’ll claim;

Let God replace your vain and selfish aim

With lasting goals that glorify His name. --Gustafson

We fulfill our purpose when we serve our Creator. (Our Daily Bread)

1. Jesus knew that success in human terms is often subject to the relative values of peoples’ cultures. Jesus said, "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but loses his own soul." (Mark 8:36) When Jesus walked the dusty roads of Palestine, many people believed success could be measured by ones’ wealth, status or position of power. However, the Lord Jesus taught that even lowly fishermen like Peter, James and John were successful because they chose to surrender everything and follow the great fisher of men. (Matt. 4:19) Ask the Lord for greater discernment, commitment and trust in the God who has the last say on who is successful.

2. Jesus knew that success is often fleeting with time. The Lord Jesus said to the disciples, "When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up? Twelve, they replied. And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up? They answered, ’Seven.’ He said to them, ’Do you still not understand?" (Mark 8:19-21) The disciples thought that success lay in an event rather than in the person of Jesus Christ. Ask the Lord to help you find your success in Jesus Christ - worshipping Him, loving Him, and doing all of His will for His greater glory - therein is eternal success.

3. Jesus knew that success means little unless it is lasting. Jesus said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away." (Mark 13:31) Ask the Lord to help you gain a greater eternal perspective on your relationships, your ministries and your opportunities to make a everlasting success today.

Illustration: Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys. --Matthew 6:20

Fritz Kreisler (1875-1962) of Austria was one of the greatest violinists of all time. He thrilled audiences around the world with his skillful playing. Although he could have commanded the highest fees, he refused to do so and never became rich.

Kreisler once said, "I never look upon the money I earn as my own. It is public money. It is only a fund entrusted to my care for proper disbursement." Speaking for his wife as well as himself, he said, "I feel morally guilty if I order a costly meal, for it deprives someone else of a slice of bread--some child perhaps of a bottle of milk . . . . In all these years of my so-called success in music, we have not built a home for ourselves. Between it and us stand all the homeless in the world!"

What a challenge to disciples of a Master who voluntarily left the ivory palaces of glory, and who had no place he could call His home here on earth (Matt. 8:20). Are we as concerned as Fritz Kreisler was about people who are hungry and homeless? Do we really care about people who need the Bread of Life--those who will have no eternal home unless they hear and believe the gospel?

We ought to be thankful for all that God has given to us. Let’s be people who care. --VCG

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