This may come as a surprise to some of us, but success is not measured by how much one obtains in life. So many times we find ourselves chasing accomplishments, titles, degrees, and material things to define us, but at the end of the day, all these things are wood, hay, and stubble.
We have been taught that we must have certain things in order to be accepted or validated. Let us remind ourselves of who Jesus chose to be his disciples, they were fishermen and what todays society would consider nobody’s. Let us remind ourselves that the kingdom of heaven is inverted. God likes to use the LEAST of these.
Somewhere along the way, in western culture especially, we bought into the lie that we must do this, or have this, to be “somebody”. Our identity should lie within Christ alone, but at the end of the day, if we are truly honest with ourselves, our insecurities come from what we have or don’t have, what we have or haven’t done, how we look, and/or what we have acquired.
According to International Standard Bible Encyclopedia –
“To succeed” means,
(1) “to follow after“;
(2) mostly in modern English, “to prosper“; in the King James Version.
(1) First it is the translation ofyarash, “to seize” or “to take possession” (De 2:12; 12:29, the American Standard Revised Version “dispossessest,”); “to rise up” (De 25:6, “shall succeed in the name of his brother”); of diadechomai (Ecclesiasticus 48:8, “prophets to succeed after him”).
(2) In the sense of prospering, “success” is the translation of sakhal, “to be wise,” “to prosper”
Many take the prosper part and associate success with the western definition of prosperity which is defined as a successful, flourishing, or thriving condition, especially in financial respects; good fortune.
Let’s reflect on Rev 3:14-19 KJVR
“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; (15) I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. (16) So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth. (17 ) Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: (18) I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see . (19) As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.”
The world’s definition of prosperity is achieving financial success. That is not God’s definition of prosperity. Yet, the Christian world has fallen for the deception that prosperity means obtaining financial wealth of some sort and if you are not financially prosperous you are excluded, not blessed or looked down upon. This isn’t always intentional by Christian brothers and sisters, we have just become so accustomed and conditioned to a certain lifestyle, that we exclude those that can’t afford it simply by default.
And in this present day, we see Christians aspiring to become millionaires instead of being content and seeking true spiritual riches. If one spends more time working to make the bucks than discipling others and kingdom advancement they may need to assess motive. It is only true spiritual riches that the Bible speaks of which we need to seek. What is the Bible’s and God’s definition of prosperity? It has nothing to do with money, though for some money may be one manifestation of Biblical prosperity but certainly not in every case.
Biblical prosperity is simple. Biblical prosperity means being blessed by God and obtaining his favor. True success is dependent on fulfilling the great commission, ministering the gospel and not burying treasures or talents in the sand.
31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’
44 “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
1 Corinthians 3:12-13
12 Now if any man builds upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.
So I leave us with this question, what do we consider as being prosperous? How are we stewarding our talents and abundance? Are we doing more for the Kingdoms sake than we are for ourselves? When our works are tried by the fire what will truly remain? Material things or souls?
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
What does it mean to store up treasures in heaven? I truly believe it means if we do more for our kingdoms on earth than we do for the kingdom of heaven we are focused on the wrong thing. If we are giving of ourselves more to worldly functions, vacations, and leisure we are focused on the wrong thing. Our treasures some from advancing the kingdom be it praying, loving your enemies, giving to the needy, witnessing to the lost, healing the sick, enduring persecution for his sake.
So am I saying we must be poor, no not at all. All I am saying is don’t get caught up in the western idea of consumerism and keeping up with the Jones’. Don’t give more to yourself and to your kingdom than THE kingdom. As a true seeker of the Lord don’t get so caught up in storing up your treasures on earth that you neglect your eternal bank account, for we will be tried and tested and may we come forth as gold. May we be sensitive to the spirit and walk in radical obedience to whatever he asks us to do, forgoing our ideologies and our selfish desires to increase the kingdom of God.