Am I successful enough? We live in a time where people are actively encouraged to think along these lines. How can I be smarter, richer, more attractive? How can I get a better job, earn more money and afford a more luxurious lifestyle?
But, as Christians, we should be asking ourselves: Do all these things have anything to do with success?
Pursuing what is temporal
The Bible has neither encouraged nor forbidden people to be rich, smart or attractive. Jesus has invited both the rich and the poor to be His disciples, but He emphasizes that what is often considered “success” in this world is totally irrelevant to our heavenly calling.
Jesus says, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21.
Many people today are focused on attaining earthly treasures, honor or a certain lifestyle. We are conditioned by society to achieve these things, and to attain them is what most people consider “success.” But, God’s Word tells us these things will pass away; they don’t actually hold any value in eternity.
Whom do you serve?
This doesn’t mean that we should neglect our studies, career or business. On the contrary, we are encouraged to use our talents and gifts for the good, within our measure of our faith. In Colossians 3:23 Paul also exhorts us to do everything heartily as unto the Lord. This means that we should be sincere and diligent people who are committed to whatever task is in front of us. God can use individuals with such a mindset, those who have action power and are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:14)
But, the problem comes when we seek to serve ourselves instead of the Living God in our lives, when we become preoccupied with exalting ourselves and becoming something great in this world, instead of doing everything wholeheartedly for Him. In Matthew 6:24 Jesus says, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” In other words, we can’t serve God and at the same time be absorbed with trying to be something great in this world.
A focus on things of worth
Instead of being absorbed by temporal things, allowing ourselves to be driven by selfish ambition and conceit, we can have our focus on things of worth! We can seek the things that are above and are of true value in eternity. Think how different it is to pursue God’s honor, instead of the honor that comes from people, to “…pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart,” instead of earthly riches! (2 Timothy 2:22) These things are of eternal worth; they are not corrupted, nor do they pass away. And people who pursue such goals in life will never be anxious or disappointed.
True success is to attain Christ’s virtues in our lives, to come to godly nature. There is nothing more valuable than this! And God promises that it will succeed for us if we obey His Word in our lives, with sincerity of heart. (Joshua 1:8) May we strive to be successful Christians, not seeking to attain things that are great in this world, but pursuing godliness in our lives.
“… as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.” 2 Peter 1:3-7.