True success is being faithful to God in all things. A simple definition, I know, but I believe this would be Christ’s definition as well.
I see this the most when I read about extraordinary men of God who were giants in the Kingdom of God, but experienced little “success” according to what the world would call “success”. For instance, think about Jeremiah, that bold, fiery prophet of God. He preached his heart out for over 40 years. He faced heartbreak, persecution, slander, abandonment, and humiliation all his life. Yet he saw very little ministerial fruit come from his labors. He didn’t see 3,000 men repent in a single day like Peter did. He didn’t see cities of Gentiles turn to Christ like Paul did. He didn’t lead a major revival in Israel like Ezra did. He didn’t lead a nation out of the bondage of Egypt like Moses did. Yet, even with his apparent failure to make converts, he was a booming success in the kingdom of God. -Why? Because he was faithful to His call and passionate for his Lord! I would imagine that he will have a crown in glory similar to that of all the other “more successful” prophets and apostles!
We have to understand today that God doesn’t call us to be successful, but to be faithful. If we measure our ministries by terms of success, we can get really discouraged real fast, because there will always be someone more successful in the world’s eyes. God gives us each a mission, each a calling, and true success in His Kingdom is being faithful to that calling He gives us, especially in the face of the most bitter discouragement.
Our culture defines success differently than Christ. Success is often measured by the size of the bank account, or the prestige and power that one gains for their own name. Success for the world means being a little bit better than everyone else. But this is false, and Jesus said that the first shall be last, and the last first!
In the messages to the seven churches, Jesus never mentions how “successful” their ministries were, how great their sunday-school program was, how dynamic their worship meeting was, how fiery the preaching was. He mentions their works before God, works which evidence their faith and prove their faithfulness (or lack thereof). He never said, “I know your faith” to any of them. But to all of them He said, “I know your works”. Our works are the manifestation of the faith that is truly in our hearts. If we are faithful to the Lord, our works will habitually glorifiy Him.
It would do us all well to remember this lesson…
Just the ponderings of a foolish thing of the this world.