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Pointers along the way #176

A successful man
- Jacob Ninan

All people want to be successful in whatever they do. There is nothing wrong with this, and God Himself wants us to succeed. But most often the success we seek for is in front of people, to get their recognition and applause. It is also related to comparison with others, so that we feel good when we are one notch better than the others. But soon another person comes along and outperforms us and our world comes crashing down!

We also tend to think of success in terms of 'quantity' most of the time. Our house must be bigger than all others in the neighbourhood, our clothes more expensive, our achievements more in number, we must be more widely known, etc. Someone has said that if one takes such considerations Jesus was virtually a failure in His time. He was hardly known beyond the small region of Israel, He had only eleven followers, He didn't leave any institution or monument behind, He had written no book, etc. Yet now we know that He was the most successful of all people who ever lived.

From God's point of view, a successful man is one who accomplishes what He had sent him out for (Jn.17:4). For Jesus, this meant, for example, that He should train just eleven people who would train others after Him (v.20). That was His task, which He accomplished faithfully. He didn't have to get worried because the Pharisees were converting more people, because He had to do only what He had been asked.

God gives us abilities to accomplish what He has purposed for us, and He also gives us opportunities. If we think any of these is limited in our case we must also remember that unlike what the man with the one talent thought, God doesn't expect anything more from us than what He has provided for us (Mt.25:26).

Success comes with faithfulness on our part. Depending on how ernest or lazy we are, our output could be thirty, sixty or hundred fold with however many talents we are entrusted with (Mt.13:23). And there is also the possibility that if we prove faithful with the little that we have, we might be given more responsibility to work with (Mt.25:29). Further, if we cleanse ourselves, God can also entrust us with more important tasks (2Ti.2:20,21).

What God tells us we should do in order to be successful is to take care to abide by every word that He has given us (Jos.1:7,8). If we take care to stay within the limits of His laws and boundaries, our success may not be as impressive to the world as that of others who resort to all kinds of devious ways to attain success. But we will have the Lord with us and His rewards in eternity if not here. Many who are successful in the world and even in Christian work get there by careful manipulations, scheming and planning, flattery, stepping over others, using exaggerations and falsehood, seeking out powerful people who can work for them, etc. Is such success of any value in the final analysis?

Who is the final judge of our success? Is it not worth it all to hear from the Lord on the final day, "Good and faithful servant!"?