A Measure of Success

Psalm 139:7-10 “Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Hell, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.”

“When Jesus is near, all is well and nothing seems difficult. When He is absent, all is hard. When Jesus does not speak within, all other comfort is empty, but if He says only a Word, it brings great consolation.”

Thomas a’ Kempis

Have you ever been in the midst of a great trial and during that period of time had a friend or acquaintance give you some advice that just seemed to lift your spirits and give you hope?

Social media is a great platform for giving advice, most start with the statement, “You should do….”, or “Have you tried….”, or better yet, “Why don’t you…”. With each short quip or rhetorical question, the one enduring the trial finds there is no shortage of suggestions. Sifting through the considerations of a dilemma and possible avenues that might alleviate the struggle, we are faced with the same concerns we began with…what direction do I go?

How do we know what good and bad advice looks like? How do we differentiate between wisdom and foolishness?

Spirit Led

1 Corinthians 2:9-12 “But as it is written:

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.”

There are two types of advice in this world:

  1. The wisdom of man
  2. The wisdom of God

Man brings forth wisdom that is learned. This man-made wisdom may be coupled with common sense or based off some scientific study they read, or even through experience. Many people have had a tremendous amount of success, (by the world’s standards), by following these patterns of advice.

Isaiah 29:13 “Therefore the Lord said: “Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths
And honor Me with their lips,
But have removed their hearts far from Me,
And their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men”

Godly wisdom originates with God. When godly wisdom comes forth from man it is because that person has the Spirit of God residing within them. If a man or woman of God is walking in the Spirit, then they are submitting to the leading of the Spirit in their lives. Godly wisdom comes by way of godly instruction. The revelation of God’s Truth, coupled with obedient faith, rewards the one with riches that are eternal. The path may not lead to worldly riches, honor, or even what the world deems as success, but God doesn’t concern Himself with how the world justifies faith.

1 Corinthians 1:20 “Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?”

How do we decipher between godly and worldly wisdom?

Worldly Wisdom

Worldly wisdom comes by way of a world perspective. A perspective that was established by worldly values. By embracing those values, the advice given is in how to navigate the world by the world’s schemes. Worldly values change like the tide, they ebb and flow based off the cultural expectations and politically correct trends.

Isaiah 6:9 “And He replied: “Go and tell this people, ‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’

When you consider the end point of the wisdom of this age, what is it that draws our interest?

By manipulating the image of success, the world gives the perception that riches buy happiness. Success is presented as one driving an expensive car, living in an expensive house, or wearing expensive clothes. None of these things give any indication that within the subgroups of people who own these things, there is any greater measure of happiness. To the contrary, when examining the trends of depression, anxiety, or any other form of mental distress, apart from drug addiction the maladies of trying to sustain a lifestyle bears the burden of greater distress.

The world says, “This is what you must do to be successful”, and so you take their advice thinking that is what you want.

How do we measure success?

Is success based off the process or the endpoint? Can you have success in the journey to reaching your goal or is it considered a failure if you don’t reach the goal you set?

Sometimes, asking the questions regarding your focus helps bring clarity in what your trying to accomplish.

Godly Wisdom

Psalm 1:6 “For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the ungodly shall perish.”

Through submitting to God’s wisdom, we find that we are not alone in the journey. We don’t place our hope in our own ability to reason or in the luck of the draw, we commit our way toward a direction that we are led into. If the Lord is doing the leading, there isn’t a mountain that can stand in the way of what He intends to accomplish in you.

We must remember, all good work is inspired by God and it is accomplished for God, to His glory. If you see a good work occurring and decide you want to do it, hoping God comes along and blesses you for it, you are placing yourself in a position as god. You are relying on your perception to determine what is right for you and it is typically based off an emotional response to something you see or something that had an impact in your life previously. Rather than rushing into a ministry, try laying a foundation of prayer first, seeking wise counsel and waiting for the Lord to reveal truth regarding the idea by His Word. If you recognize that God is fully aware of the need and probably already has a process in place to fulfill it, you’ll find that He has a particular way He wants to fit you into His plans as well.

The sanctifying work of God is meant to prepare you for ministry. Your responsibility is to obediently walk in faith down the path He has set before you. Let Him worry about the details, He is quite good at it.

The journey of faith is blessed, the reward waiting at the end is blessed and the fulfillment of obedience brings the peace and freedom that rewards those who submit in humility to the wisdom and purposes of God.

Psalm 118:8 “It is better to trust in the Lord
Than to put confidence in man.
It is better to trust in the Lord
Than to put confidence in princes.”

Each of us must reach a conclusion to the type of advice and wisdom we want to heed. We have to determine who holds the answers and where the power lies in which to see our hopes realized. Where is your hope? Is it to see your plans realized or to fulfill God’s plan in you?

We have a choice to either walk according the world’s standards or walk according to God’s standards—the two do not intermingle.

Psalm 118:19-20 “Open to me the gates of righteousness;
I will go through them,
And I will praise the Lord.
This is the gate of the Lord,
Through which the righteous shall enter.”

Who do you want to receive acknowledgement from when your life is complete? I guarantee you, not one person in this world will be there with you in the end. We will all stand before the Lord our Creator and give account for how we lived. We as believers will be judged as to whether our actions were brought forth in righteousness or in selfishness.

2 Corinthians 5:10 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”

Live wisely in the wisdom of the Lord and you will see His goodness realized in your life.

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