Summary: The god of success does not offer lasting meaning and purpose, but when we give our lives to God and are saved by grace, we have peace as we look forward to hearing Jesus' words, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."
A. Welcome to Friend Day, if you are visiting with us, we consider you an honored guest and hope that your experience here with us today is encouraging, inspiring, and helpful.
1. Today’s sermon is the sixth sermon in our series called “Counterfeit Gods – Defeating the Idols that Battle for Our Hearts.”
2. We have been learning how easy it is to allow other things, even good things, to become our god and take the rightful place of the one true God in our lives.
3. Some of the counterfeit gods we have been discussing are the god of food, the god of sex, and last week, the god of entertainment. (past sermons can be listed to on our website, or watched on Facebook and YouTube)
4. Today, we are going to talk about the god of success.
B. Let me start with a humorous story from this month’s Reader’s Digest.
1. A wife began to be really annoyed by her husband’s constant boasting about his promotion to vice president of his company.
2. His wife said, “Look, being a vice president isn’t that special. They even have a vice president of peas at the supermarket.”
3. Not believing his wife for one second, the husband called the supermarket and demanded, “Get me the vice president of peas!”
4. The clerk who answered the phone asked, “Certainly, which vice president of peas do you want to speak to: Fresh, canned, or frozen?”
C. How many of you played the grade school game called “king of the hill” or “king of the mountain”?
1. When I was a young boy we would play it in winter time on the big snow banks at the end of drive ways or parking lots.
2. The object of the game was to get to the top of the snowbank and to push everybody down who might try to take away your position on top.
3. Perhaps you have discovered that trying to become the “king of the hill” isn’t just a childhood game we play, but it often ends up becoming our life’s pursuit – to do whatever it takes to make it to the top – to become a success, however we might define it.
D. The god of success has no problem finding followers.
1. The god of success is attractive, compelling and charismatic.
2. The god of success enters into our everyday rat-race world and shows us what life could be at the top of the heap.
3. And what the god of success sells is hard to ignore – he offers us the applause and envy that makes life seem sweet.
4. The god of success whispers the line that is as old as the garden of Eden: “You can run the whole thing; it’s your life, so why shouldn’t you be at the wheel and determine your direction?”
5. The god of success plays on the most basic problem of humanity – pride.
6. The god of success is all about offering personal achievement and rewards that we can amass for ourselves.
7. And the god of success offers very convenient ways to keep score: titles after our names, the numbers in our bank account, the special social circles we can run in, or the square footage of our home.
E. Now, before we go any further, allow me to clarify that striving for success is not wrong in and of itself.
1. There is nothing wrong with setting goals, and working hard to reach them.
2. And there is nothing wrong with trying to be the best you can be.
3. As with all of the counterfeit gods, the problem comes when the thing becomes our focus and our life.
4. When the thing takes a place in our lives that belongs only to God.
5. And just like the other counterfeit gods we have examined, there is a bait-and-switch effect that goes on – they promise one thing but deliver another.
6. The god of success promises purpose, fulfillment, and satisfaction, but delivers emptiness and endless striving for self-worth.
F. Listen to pop legend Madonna as she describes the seduction of success in her own words.
1. She said, “I have an iron will, and all of my will has always been to conquer some horrible feeling of inadequacy…I push past one spell of it and discover myself as a special human being and then I get to another stage and think I’m mediocre and uninteresting…Again and again. My drive in life is from this horrible fear of being mediocre. And that’s always pushing me, pushing me. Because even though I’ve become Somebody, I still have to prove that I’m Somebody. My struggle has never ended and it probably never will.” (Vanity Fair, April 1991)
2. For Madonna, success is like a drug that gives her a sense of consequence and worth, but the high quickly wears off and she needs a repeat dose.