“True contentment is found in the right inner attitude and not in our material possessions” – Selwyn Hughes
“The silver is mine and the gold is mine says the LORD of hosts” (Haggai 2:8). “And in this place I will give prosperity says the LORD of hosts” (Haggai 2:9). Another version of the Bible says, “In this place I will give peace” (KJV). One Bible commentator says peace in the Hebrew language which is ‘Shalom’ stands for not just financial and material blessing but also physical healing and health and spiritual progress and life. After doing what they were supposed to do, God renews His promises to the children of Israel in Haggai 2: 3-9. God reminds them that He is the One that gives true success and prosperity. “The blessing of God makes rich and he adds no sorrow with it” (Proverbs 10:22). He owns everything (Psalm 24:1 and Psalm 50:10-12) and gives it to whosoever pleases Him (Jeremiah 27:5). The blessing of God doesn’t come so much because we deserve it, it doesn’t come so much because we have worked hard for it, and it doesn’t come because of our righteousness (Deuteronomy 9: 1-6). It comes because of His mercy towards us (Psalm 67:1) and because we are His children. “For thou dost bless the righteous, O LORD; thou dost cover him with favour as with a shield” (Psalm 5:12 and Psalm 92:12-14). The righteous in this sense does not refer to the good works you have done but the fact that you have accepted His Son as your Lord and Saviour and have become His child. But this blessing is opened up more to some people than to others only as a result of obedience. Joshua 1:8 gives the classic recipe for success and prosperity. Deuteronomy 8:18 says, “You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth”. Psalm 1: 1-3 tells us that the man who delights in God’s word prospers in all that he does. The most successful people are not necessarily those that work hard the most or chase money the most. Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labour in vain”. This is not saying that hard work is not important but it is God who gives the success. Psalm 90:17 says, “And establish thou the work of our hands upon us”.
Your attitude to success determines whether you are successful or not and the kind of success you have. Are you in bondage to the whole concept of success? Must you always be successful in everything you do? We must be cautious about getting into bondage to success or being locked into the necessity of it. There is nothing wrong in wanting to be successful or in setting clear goals but especially for Christians success is much more than that. Your identity and who you are must not be determined by how successful you are. Your personal identity lies in your relationship with God. Worldly success is based on such things as the amount of money in your bank account, the number of cars you have in your garage, the amount and type of clothes you have in your wardrobe, the type of ivy league schools your children go to, the number of degrees you are able to acquire, the number of women you are able to gather together under your roof and whether you are able to do and acquire as much as your friend or school mate or brother or father has done and acquired. It is a continuous rat race. Fulfilment cannot be found in such things. You buy a new car today and you want a newer and better and more powerful and more expensive one tomorrow. You build a three-bedroom house today and you are thinking of how to build a ten bedroom one tomorrow. You buy a new cloth today and tomorrow you must get the one made of a better and more expensive fabric (Luke 12: 16-21). Jesus was the most successful man who ever lived but by all human standards that are used to measure success He was a failure. He didn’t leave any wife or children or house or bank account behind. He was a carpenter’s son and also a carpenter himself. He didn’t go to any Ivy League school. He was buried in a borrowed tomb. But He was successful because He touched several people’s life through His own and He accomplished His purpose on earth. This doesn’t mean you have to despise success but your perception and understanding of this concept must be in line with God’s own.
“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). When you know God then you are in a better position to acknowledge God in your success and accomplishments. When you know God He will be able to handle any negative character traits such as pride, arrogance or self-conceit that may be inside of you. When you know God you will be able to pause in the midst of your life and give God all the glory for your success. When you know God then you are less likely to go off into something that God has not called you to and then fail. When you know God you are more likely to use your success and wealth for the advancement of God’s kingdom than for your own selfish interests. Knowing God ensures that during our time of success we are able through God’s grace to avoid the pitfalls of failure. It is said that we are never closer to failure than during the period of our greatest success. Uzziah was doing well until success and pride got into his head and he attempted to do something, which he was not supposed to do (2 Chronicles 26: 1-23, note especially verse 16). When you know Him who owns everything then you are in a better position to receive everything even though He knows you don’t need everything. When you know Him He will be able to work hand in hand with you to give you those things you need at the time you need them and He will be able to soothe the pains of unfulfilled hopes and desires and you will be able to cope much more better with the pain of loss, lack or failure. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6:12 “All things are lawful for me but not all things are helpful”. Success is being true to what you believe God has called you into and doing it well. When God called Moses (Exodus 3:1-2), Gideon (Judges 6:11-12), David (1 Samuel 16:1-13), Elisha (1 Kings 19:19-21) and Peter (Luke 5:1-11), they were all committed to the work they were doing. They were all working hard and successful but they were also God seekers. Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things shall be yours as well”. A lot of us are chasing the end and not the means to the end. Jesus recognised the fact that God was the source of the power and He was an outlet of that power. Therefore He needed to constantly tap into that source to be refreshed, renewed and restored. He taught the same things to His disciples (Luke 5:16, Matthew 14:23, Matthew 15:29, Luke 9:10 and Mark 6:30-31). One of satan’s chief tricks is to make us believe that the more we do the more accepted we are and the more successful we are.
1 Corinthians 1:18-31 shows us that the way we work is not the same way God works. God works by people, situations, and circumstances, times and things that we don’t know and understand. You cannot understand such things unless you have a relationship with Him. You cannot hear the word of the Lord unless you are still before Him. You cannot put God first unless you respect Him and honour Him. The kind of success the devil will give you will have conditions attached to it (Matthew 4:8-9). It brings you into a bondage to him and the world. John says in 3 John v2 “Beloved I pray that you may prosper and be in health even as it is well with your soul”. It is God’s will for us to prosper and be successful but it starts with the well being of our souls. Every other kind of blessing apart from this is drawing your soul to the lust of the world (1 John 2:15-17). Life without Christ is said to be a hopeless end but with Him it is an endless hope. Success begins and ends with him. In him we live and move and have our being -Acts 17:28.
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