Summary: How can I be a success for God, others, and myself?
“WHAT IS SUCCESS?”
1st in Series: Searching For Success
Rev. Todd G. Leupold, Perth Bible Church, January 10, 2010 AM
What determines one's success in life?
Rudyard Kipling once wrote: “Treat human success for what it is. Fleeting and deceitful.”
We greatly limit and even deceive ourselves when we define success in human terms rather than according to God Almighty. Success that is humanly defined is flawed. How? It is subject to the relative values of different people. It is finite and fleeting. It often leads to greater temptations, worries, burdens and trouble. Human success in one area of life rarely carries over to other, let alone all, areas.
Illustration: Consider the Cross. Foolishness to the world, eternal victory for the believer!
In 2002, Barna Research conducted a study on how US adults define a successful life. The responses were all over the place and “revealed that different faith groups had significantly divergent views of success.” Family and personal accomplishments topped the people's list. In his report, George Barna concludes: “Most people do not come to church to develop a worldview, most churches are not focused on providing one, and most individuals draw their worldview from cultural sources without even realizing that they are being impacted in such a foundational way. Given that, it's no wonder that only 7% say success is related to our relationship with God and how we use the talents He gave us to experience and affect the world.” By contrast:
George MacDonald wrote: “In whatever a man does without God, he must fail miserably or succeed more miserably.”
Abraham Lincoln proclaimed: “Without God I cannot succeed. With God I cannot fail.”
General MacArthur explained: “The most important lesson I learned at West Point is that preparation is one key to victory.”
Applied to godly success, I'd suggest this means that it is better to be over-preached, over-read, over-prayed, or over-serving than under-preached, under-prayed, or under-serving!
How can I be a success for God, others, and myself?
SCRIPTURE: PROVERBS 3:1-12
TRUE SUCCESS REQUIRES:
1.) GODLY OBEDIENCE (vv. 1-2)
The expressed objective is “well-being” or “prosperity” depending on the English translation. The Hebrew word is one you've probably heard countless times, but perhaps never had defined: “Shalom.” Shalom is a word that carries a breadth and fullness of meaning for which there is no truly comparable word in English. It refers to a wholeness or completeness in all facets. As such, it can refer to the entirety of something, a safety, soundness, security, welfare, prosperity, peace, contentment, or friendship that is created by and through this wholesomeness.
In a more open and general context such as that here in Proverbs 3, it is frequently used to mean ALL of these things. When Jewish people use it as a greeting or parting, it is supposed to be a spoken blessing to that person to have this in their life.
In other words, Shalom is the ultimate expression of success in every area of one's life and being: personal, relational, physical, emotional, psychological, intellectual and spiritual wholeness, peace, contentment and security!
Note, however, it says and implies nothing about popularity, fame, material excess, or territory.
How, then, can this elusive Shalom be attained?
The short answer is Godly obedience. The more specific answer is by knowing, remembering, being ever-conscious of and living according to God's complete Word! Not just in intent or thought, but also in action. Not just in form and appearance, but in the depths of one's heart – that is, the center of our will and emotions.
2.) GODLY FAITHFULNESS (vv. 3-4)
The references here to “neck” and “heart” are a classical allusion to one's innermost being or character.
What in the translation I read from appears as “high regard” appears in others as “a good name.” The more literal “a good name” is an expression referring to one receiving recognition from others for their demonstrated competence, intelligence and wisdom.
What, according to Scripture, earns one “a good name,” “high regard,” or “praise and respect” from God and others? Loyalty and faithfulness that never wavers or fails. Particularly, loyalty and faithfulness to God and His Word.
3.) COMPLETE TRUST (vv. 5-7a)
This is not just a simple, general or ordinary trust. It is an absolute and complete trust “from the top of your head to the tip of your toes.”
It is not only displayed on the outside, but felt on the inside. It is an action and a conviction.
But of utmost importance is the OBJECT of trust! The genuinely successful person trusts completely in the LORD, even more so and as opposed to one's trust in one's self, or in one's understanding based on reason, feelings, intuition, and/or worldly teachings.
It is acknowledging, as the LORD spoke through the prophet Jeremiah (17:9): “The heart is more deceitful than anything else and desperately sick [wicked] – who can understand it?”