“I’ve had great success being a total idiot,” Jerry Lewis once said. This ground-breaking comedian and philanthropist died this week at the age of 91. Sometimes SUCCESS becomes a kind of quicksand for the Christian.
I will deliver a message on SUCCESS to the saints at Crossroads Fellowship Church in Augusta, GA (website: crossroadschurchinaugusta.com) on September 24, my last Sunday with those friends.
Jesus-followers gravitate from a kind of prosperity theology that says God always wants us wealthy, healthy, and successful to a kind of poverty theology that says we are to suffer for Jesus, live austere lives, and eat only locusts and wild honey. Both theologies are wrong. Should the follower of Jesus seek SUCCESS — and what kind of SUCCESS ought he or she to pursue?
Of the 51 uses of the word “success” in the Bible, all of them are in the Old Testament! There is not one occurrence of that word in the New Testament. The idea of being successful is there in the New Testament (in verses such as Phil. 4:13, Mt. 16:26-27, Lk. 16:10-11, Rom. 12:2), but the emphasis seems to be more on faithfulness and rewards for living life for Jesus. In the Old Testament, many of the uses of “success” have to do with military victories (such as I Sam. 18:5, 14; I Chron. 12:18; 2 Chron. 26:5).
Here is the main text we want to look at:
6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 For we live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (2 Cor. 5)
How does this text relate to SUCCESS?, you might ask. SUCCESS in life will be judged by the Lord Jesus at “the judgment seat of Christ.” The Apostle Paul makes it quite clear that there are only two states of existence for the believer: either “at home in the body [and] away from the Lord” or “away from the body and at home with the Lord.” We are presently “away from the Lord,” seeking to please Him with our lives, striving to live by faith and not by sight. SUCCESS is striving to please Him whether at home in the body or away from it! How are you trying to please the Lord today? (to be continued)