Spirit of Grace Ministries
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Success Defined

By Dennis Pollock


Recently, when U. S. President Joe Biden was in Ireland, he met with some children, and one of them asked him a question: "What is the top step to success?" Biden was thrown off a little by the "top step" part of the question, but when his son, Hunter, rephrased it for him, and asked, "What is the key to success?" President Biden finally stated that it was to understand that it is fine to disagree with people over policies and beliefs, but we should never question their motives.


I don't disagree with that idea, as an important part of civil dialogue, although it seems at times that our president does not always follow his own advice. But from a Biblical standpoint, that is far from the ultimate, definitive response when asked about the key to success.


Before the question can be answered, the concept of success must be defined. What kind of success are we talking about? Is it success in our career, success in our marriage, being a successful parent, a successful politician, or a successful athlete? Success can come in many forms and people have different ideas about what success even means.

In its most fundamental sense, success means achieving your goals, at the highest level. If you are a professional soccer player, this would consist of your team winning the World Cup finals and you being acknowledged as the best player. If you are a singer, it might mean creating an album that would sell millions of copies. If you are a bank robber, success would mean that you rob more banks of more money than anyone else, and you never get caught or jailed for it. In other words, YOU set the bar for what success means to you, and if you fulfill your dreams and ambitions completely, this makes you a success.


Unqualified to Define Success

But of course, we can never truly be the definers of our own success. A highly successful thief may feel good about himself, but does that make him superior to an honest but mediocre businessman, who is trying his best, but just doesn't quite have the drive or talent to compete with the billionaires? Are we capable of setting our own measures of success?


The answer is that we are not. In 1941 Adolf Hitler appeared to be an incredible success and no doubt he was certain that he was. But today all the world sees him as a miserable, wretched, wicked man who was a total failure as a leader in Germany and brought that nation down to ruin.


In the end, only our Creator can define success for us, and He uses the same definition for one and all. Success in life means knowing Him and being reconciled to Him through faith in His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus asked, "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?" (Mark 8:36). Ultimate success, according to Jesus, is to know God and to exit this world with our faith in Jesus alive and intact. Toward the end of his life, the apostle Paul wrote: " I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing." (2 Timothy 4:7-8). Paul was a success!


God's View of Success

Jesus tells us, "Without Me you can do nothing," which is another way of saying, "Without Jesus, we can never succeed in life." We may succeed in business, we may succeed in athletics, we may be popular, we may make millions or billions of dollars, but we are not a success if at the end of our lives, we hear those terrible words, "I never knew you – depart from me, you who work iniquity."


There is a secondary key to success. Once we have been reconciled to God through Jesus, our only other real "key to success" is to abide in Jesus. Our Lord tells us that if we abide in Him, we will bear much fruit, God will be glorified, and our prayers will be answered. These two concepts: knowing God through Jesus, and abiding in Jesus, are the "top steps to success," and the bottom steps and every other step. Do this and all will be well. Regardless of what others may say or think about you, God Almighty, the Creator of all that is and ever was, will be pleased, and He will stamp the history of your life with a great big "SUCCESS" written all over it.




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