Friday, October 10


"Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, "Come along now and sit down to eat"? Would he not rather say, "Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’?" Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, "We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”'" Luke 17:7-10

Success. That driving force that each of us entertain in all our endeavours, even in ministry....."How many saved", "Tithing ratio: Need/Recieved", and "Attendance". In our workplace, we look at responsibilites, pay rate, and 'perks'. In our homes, we look to how we've provided for in necessities, desires, and pyschological health in our children and our spouses. To be American means you should be successful; nice home, nice car, and good clothing are the hallmarks of that success.

Yet, Jesus Christ, who is by far, the most successful man in the history of the world....didn't even have a place to lay His head down for the night.

I have been viewed as a failure in terms of being a successful man, by any meager standard set forth by culture and society. As a husband, as a father, and as a man of the community....I am by far far away from where I 'should' be at this point in my life.

At age 41, I have two broken marriages and two children who are hurting from the events of the last one. I have a 13-year old a small two-bedroom apartment....and have just enough in the bank to make a majority of my bills (if I remain gainfully employed, and go without some basic 'necessities'). I've had to ask for assistance just to keep my son in programs offered even at church. I've had to go down to the local food pantry just to have some staples to feed my children.

But what is success? Is it the Merriam-Webster definition of "favorable or desired outcome ....the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence"? Is it the cultural definition of "New car, big house, and lotsa cash"? Or is it something much greater, and ultimately much more rewarding?

There are alot of books on the market today regarding success.

There are many 'gurus' of the internet, real estate, and some multi-level marketing schemes like "Team of Destiny" and "Amway" that promise over and over to bring us to a place where, for a little work (couple of hours here, there), we can have wealth beyond our wildest dreams.......if only we send them 19.95 for the package. Others will tell you what degree to have, what company will have the ability to deliver you upon the 'corporate ladder' to that pinnacle, and what steps & habits are needed to be that 'successful man' that everyone wants to be. In each and every area, there are those who feel they've the 'track of success' that can be duplicated and emulated. You name it, someone has discovered the successful path to untold achievement in that area. "Been there, done that" and for the cost of a program, a book, or a too can be successful. Fulfilled, Satisfied, and Valued.

"Individual results may vary"

Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, observed, "All the toil and anxious striving with which [man] labors under the sun... is meaningless."

Regis Nicoll, freelance writer and a Centurion of the Wilberforce Forum, says "Eternity is woven into our design, our purpose, [and]our desire making human fulfillment the consequence of experiencing the Eternal".

If we look at the two notables' quotes and put them together, we find that all the toil and anxious striving which we labor under is meaningless in an eternal perspective unless we take an eternal perspective in our toils.

Seems like a good idea, for if we do everything with eternity in mind, the things that we value and dedicate our time to will have more eternal longevity than most the fruitless things we currently occupy our time with. Hopefully.

Is that the pathway to success? Definitely.

Problem is; we'll never know success in this world following that path.

If I seek success, the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence, by my faith in Christ…..there is no way I can achieve success; there is a level of perfection that only Christ was able to maintain and increase. Even the disciples, those who walked with Christ and were witness to His miracles, begged Him to "increase our faith and perfect what is lacking in it." They admitted to weakness, deficient faith and realized only Christ's grace could improve it.

All of us, children of God and kinsman to Christ, want our discoveries, desires, dedication, delight, and dependency of our faith to be abundant and strong. It is the path to that increase that we tend to want to walk away from. Even though Christ tells us we would suffer as He did for faith and would forgo an immediate reward for an eternal one, we don't want to suffer and feel our faith isn't strong if we indeed are struggling with finances, family issues, job security, and life in general. We look to leaders who are successful as those who aren't visibly struggling, dealing with trials and humanity, but have a visible…..success at being better than us.

Is it any wonder why the fall of the mighty, highly visible leaders of the Christian faith surprise us?

"Success without honor is an unseasoned dish; it will satisfy your hunger, but it won't taste good."---Joe Paterno.

If we are truly honest with ourselves, with our brethren, and with our God; we will never achieve success by the standards set by Christ and lived out in God's design for all living things. We failed, in the Garden, and have been redefining success ever since. The "acquiring of things" to prove our success and our value to us, our families, and our society.

How wrong are we………………and how sad it is.

We didn't hang upon a cross and die for our fellow man, nor rose again from the DEAD and ascended to Heaven. We didn't stop the snake in the Garden from corrupting our wives with juicy temptation, nor did we stop society from building a tower of Babel.
We're told in James that faith without works is dead, just as work without faith is foolish.

Our works are a result of our faith, and our faith needs works to be alive.
Faith in an eternal reward in a place we have never been to and never seen. Faith in a Savior who walked the earth 2,000 years ago… Faith in a God that we cannot fully define, never see, and who is a mixture of contradictions when humanity is applied to Him.

Faith in God's pardoning mercy will enable us to get over the greatest difficulties. And will still leave us unsuccessful in trying to do enough to justify His salvation gift.

But, as John Wesley said, "Though we are unprofitable to him, our serving him is not unprofitable to us."

"Our principal care here must be to do the duty of our relation, and leave it to our Master to give us the comfort of it, when and how he thinks fit." Matthew Henry elaborates, "No servant expects that his master should say to him, Go and sit down to meat; it is time enough to do that when we have done our day's work."

"It becomes us therefore to call ourselves unprofitable servants, but to call his service a profitable service," Henry concludes "for God is happy without us, but we are undone without him."

The secret of success?

It lies within the pursuit of God with our whole heart, mind, and soul and will never gain a successful conclusion on this earth. Yet, when we do find that success, we will gain more than we could ever imagine:


No comments: