Success: Part 1

 •  11 min. read  •  grade level: 6
Josh. 1:6-86Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. 7Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. 8This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. (Joshua 1:6‑8); Phil. 3:1-151Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. 2Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. 3For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. 4Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: 5Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; 6Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. 7But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. 12Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 15Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. (Philippians 3:1‑15)
The Apostle opens this third chapter of Philippians with the reminder that he was writing the same things to them; for him it was not grievous; for them it was safe. That is, he was having to repeat himself, and he didn't consider it out of the way, because it was safe for them.
I sometimes have wondered in connection with the little talks we have had with the young people that after all, they amount to a good deal the same line of things, and if one didn't have scriptural sanction for repetition, perhaps he would not be encouraged to consider the same line of things. People in all ages meet with the same problems in life, and have the same difficulties and the same decisions to make. God's Word is the only solution of the difficulties for the Christian.
In addressing you this afternoon on the subject of "success," I am not supposed to be addressing those in their sins and outside of Christ, but those who have confessed the Lord Jesus as Savior and Lord, and to such the subject of success is a very vital one. One carefully looked up that word "success," and found it to be a very rare word in the Bible. I have not been able to find it but in the one passage in Josh. 1 suppose it is a word found very frequently in the vocabulary of the present day. There was never a day when that line of things was more pressed upon the young than now. In order that their lives might be lived in a way to contribute to their own encouragement and the good of society, they must make what the world terms a "success." If we are to be guided by worldly standards and ideals, we will live a different life from that mapped out for young Christians in the Word of God; and it is to contrast these two standards-the ideals of the Word of God, and the ideals of the world about us-I wish to speak now.
You hear someone referred to in the world; one of the questions generally asked about him is as to his standing or accomplishments, and one of the requisites to a satisfactory answer is to be able to say, "He has made quite a success." If that question is answered satisfactorily, there is a sigh of relief. That is thought to be essential. In the world, we know success consists in having accumulated a certain amount of property or monies. A man who can write his name at the bottom of a check, and perhaps that check tells its story in six or seven figures-that one is, in the eyes of the world, a success. Here is another man kept busy going about looking after his interests-various properties. The world points at him and says of him, "He is a successful citizen." Another one has not accumulated so much, but is a great political leader. The world pays tribute to him. In each case these men have lived in such a way as to place themselves in an enviable position in this world, and others look at them and say, "That is fine; I wouldn't mind being him myself." That is what the world terms success. If you get a group of old school graduates together, who have been separated many years, they begin asking about this one and that one. The prime factor before all is to go over the list and find out how each has gotten along in the world. I have heard that so many times. "What do you hear about Charlie?" "He went out West and went into the lumber business and has a thriving big concern in Seattle. He has done fine." Everyone feels satisfied, and Charlie's success reflects favorably on themselves. You find that all around. It is natural for us to be affected by these things, and we feel under some sort of moral obligation to match up to it-to come up to the standard acknowledged all around us.
When we face that line of things with the Word of God as the measuring stick-taking the Word of God into account-how different everything is going to appear. This criterion-this standard- never fails to tell the truth. God's Word is the only standard by which you and I can judge these matters. If you get hold of a faulty one, how can your conclusions help being faulty? I will just refer to a little recent experience to illustrate that. It is only a humble thing, but I believe it illustrates the point. I wanted a new pipe for my furnace. I took a measurement of the old pipe and it came out exactly a 10-inch pipe. I ordered the pipe, and when it appeared it didn't fit at all, and I had a rather pointed argument with the one from whom I purchased it and we couldn't agree. I was baffled; I was so positive I was right. I found someone had cut an inch off the yardstick I used to take the measurement. I had the wrong standard. My conclusions were wrong, though I was absolutely sure I was right. So it is in measuring what is called worldly success. What is the standard you are using?
In the third chapter of Philippians we have a man who started out with a worldly standard in view, and then he received a sudden spiritual shock that caused him to change right about face. He adopted a new standard from that time to the day of his death that revolutionized his whole life. I believe it will do the same in its measure for any of us who are willing to make the exchange Saul of. Tarsus made when he started on that journey to Damascus with the papers in his pocket to bring to Jerusalem to be punished any who called upon the Lord's name. What kind of a man was he in the eyes of the world? I suppose he had almost everything a man in the world values and covets. We get a list of things here beginning at the 4th verse. What a splendid lineage that is! -something to be proud of-splendid breeding. "An Hebrew of the Hebrews"-that is true blue blood. "As touching the law, a Pharisee"; that is his standing in the community; the Pharisees were at the top notch religiously. "Concerning zeal"-there is energy-"persecuting the church." "Touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless." There is reputation. In his case there was not only reputation but character, too. What is he going to do with a start like that? How few get a start like that-a backing like that! Cast it overboard! Have a wholesale housecleaning and start over again! Just listen to what he says: "What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ." What a change that was! It takes the mighty power of faith to enable a man to do that. He had seen the Lord in glory. He had experienced that light above the brightness of the sun at noonday, and that was a vision that never faded; it was ever present before him and in view of that, he could cast all away and say, "Those I counted loss for Christ."
It takes faith for people to cast away things that are gain to them. There are some things we can easily cast away and are better off for it. I have seen young men quit evil habits-drinking and smoking. Those are things it is good to get rid of, but you couldn't say that was casting away something that was gain to you. The Apostle said, "What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ." Are we able by the grace of God to take those very things that minister to our temporal advantage in this world, and count them as Paul did, refuse, that we might win Christ? That is true faith. That is the energy of divine faith at work in the soul. That is what is going to make a successful man. I believe if there ever was a case within the covers of the Bible that could be termed a success from God's viewpoint, it was the Apostle Paul. When he got to the end of his career, in place of having a great harvest of regrets and remorse, he is just satisfied to look back with humble satisfaction, conscious in his soul that he had fought a good fight, kept the faith and finished his course, and that there was laid up for him a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge, would give him.
Dear friends, that crown is not for Paul alone, but He will give it to all who love His appearing; and surely, don't you love His appearing? If you are a child of God at all, you cannot help rejoicing as you look forward to the time when the Lord Jesus is going to appear in glory and come into possession of all that is His by right and title. He is rejected now; He is not getting His rights; He is the maligned and outcast One. We feel that; we suffer with Christ; we feel He is not getting what belongs to Him, but we look forward to the time when He is going to have what belongs to Him. His joy in that day will be ours. Paul was able to finish his course with that satisfaction in his soul that he had kept the faith and had fought the good fight.
We sometimes get young people who feel in some way or other that they have been endowed in a superior way. I met a young man not long ago who as much as told me that he was a little different from others because he had come into a superior mental endowment and he couldn't afford to take up a path of reproach in this world; that might be all right for one of more mediocre attainment. For him, it seemed a loss-a shame-to step aside and disown all this remarkable attainment and live a humble life for Christ. I don't say he put it in those words, but I couldn't help feeling that was the burden that was going on in his own mind. I don't dispute his claims for endowment. I think he was a clever young man. Perhaps such is the attitude of some here. I was thinking of what we have in 1 Cor. 4:77For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it? (1 Corinthians 4:7) in that connection: "For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?" Young Christian here this afternoon, are you among those favored ones who have received something superior in the way of mental equipment or capacity? Where did you get it? How many times have you congratulated yourself on having it? But where did you get it? "If thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory [boast]?" "Who maketh thee to differ?" It was God who gave it to you, and it is to Him you must give account for having it.
In Matthew's Gospel where the Lord gives the talents to His servants, He gives to every man according to his several ability. He didn't give the same to each man. When He came to reckon with them, He reckoned with them on that ground, too. So He is going to reckon with you on that ground. You are a steward of that with which God has endowed you. What are you going to do with it? You can use all this splendid equipment you say you have, to advance self, with each success as a stepping stone to another one, pushing on and getting to the front and to the top. You can use all this endowment for that purpose; that is, self. But what about this: "It is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful"? How will it be in that day when you have to give account, and the question is asked how you have used it? One came to the Lord and told Him that he had kept what was committed to him laid up in a napkin. He got the Lord's rebuke. God has given you these things to use for Him, and in that coming day is going to require it of you again.