Summary: This sermon deals with risking paying a price to be obedient to God.
The Cost Of Success
If someone were to ask you, what does it mean to be successful, what kind of images begin to pop into your mind. For many of us the first thing that comes to mind is money, for others it may be a graduation, a promotion on the job, winning a championship or an award in your field, being popular, or having a great home.
All of these things may be good in and of themselves, and having a combination of them all may be pretty impressive. Think of some of the superstars you know that have all these things, but who you are not quite sure they are what you call successful. You are not willing to get up and trade places with them in life. In fact, you may actually be more successful than they are.
Now I don’t want you to think for a minute that I do not want you to plan to obtain the things that we call success. I want everyone of you to graduate and keep on graduating. I want you to rise to the top position on your job. I want you to receive as much money as you possibly can. We’re praying for 1.76 million dollars, and God may want to provide it through you. I want you to have the best home and family life that you can.
But I want you to know that being successful does not start with a vision to do something great or to have something wonderful. Being successful starts with planning one’s funeral and working backwards from it. For Jesus said in the word of God, what does it profit a person to gain the whole world and yet lose his or her soul?. Success in life is dependent more on what we take out of this world when we die, more than on what it is we leave behind. We’re going out to take out our character and the choices we make in life and lay them before God.
To be called successful by God, always comes with a price tag. Those of you who graduated this year, you did not get your degree simply by showing up every once in a while. You did some things you did not want to do. You went some places you did not want to go. You studied at times when you had rather been doing something else. There was a price that had to be paid to get you to the point of being called a graduate. There were others who started out with you, with the same opportunity, but they did not pay the price and they did not graduate.
It is amazing how many people want to be a success with God and fail to understand there is a cost involved to walk with the Lord. They have cheap “forgive me religion.” They are under the impression, all I have to say is Lord forgive me and I can do as I please. That’s not having a relationship with Christ. That’s a bad case of misunderstanding the grace and mercy of God. I can tell you this, God expects everybody to pay a price to follow him. Sometimes the price just might be, the cost of not being successful for the moment.
Let’s turn in our Bibles to Daniel chapter 1. The history is that the children of God, the Israelites, they have been taken away into captivity to the land of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar is king of Babylon, and he’s looking to take away the most promising of the captives, and put them to work for him. He wants to prepare them for graduation and to make them all successful. But old King Nebuchadnezzar had his own agenda for making people successful. After all, if he could control the minds of the elite, the masses would be easier to control.
Look at Daniel 1:3-5 Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility-- young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.
I want you to notice how the king was only interested in the cream of the crop. His goal was not to educate them to help their own people, but to put them in his service. They were not to learn about their history or their literature, but that of the Babylonians. At the end of the three year period, they were to be more Babylonian than they ever had been Hebrew. That plan is still in effect today.?