by Pastor E. Keith Hassell | February 1, 2017Matthew 16:24-27 NKJV “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.’”
Are you successful? Who determines whether or not you are successful? What is your standard for determining success? The answers to these questions have eternal implications.
A businessman’s idea of success is usually based on how well his business is doing. An investor’s idea of success is usually based on how his investments are doing. A politician’s idea of success is usually based on how popular he or she is in the polls. Hollywood’s idea of success is based on how many tickets are sold at the box office and how many Oscar’s are sitting on the shelf. For the average person, success is usually based on how much money is in savings and in the possessions he has acquired. For others it may mean a marriage that lasts, finishing college, or landing that big job opportunity. Success means different things to different people. However, are any of these measures of true success? Do they really indicate true success in the light of eternity?
Isn’t the true evaluation of success found, not in how well things begin but, in how well things end? Who will determine whether or not we are successful anyway—Wall Street? Hollywood? Friends? Family? Bankers? Fans? Ourselves? No. Ultimately the One who will determine our success is the Lord. The day when all “success” will be evaluated is the final Day of Judgment.
Imagine if a person was able to acquire all the money, wealth, possessions, popularity, and power this world had to offer. Most would consider him to be the ultimate measure of success. But Jesus said that a man profits nothing if he gains the whole world and then loses his own soul. What is our soul worth? It is worth more than everything in this world. On the final Day of Judgment when men’s souls are cast into the lake of fire, every “successful” man would not hesitate to offer all his money, wealth, and power to buy his own soul. On that day, the reward of true success will be unanimous among all. It will be the prize of a man’s own soul.
How does a man gain his own soul? He gains it by giving it to the Lord. How does a man give his soul to the Lord? He does so by laying aside his own definition of success in order to embrace God’s definition of success. True success is what we have accomplished in light of what God has planned. We will never know God’s plan unless we let go of our own. We will never discover the true meaning for our lives until we let go of our own reasoning. We will never have true success until God’s standard becomes our standard. One day Jesus is coming back in the glory of His Father with His holy angels to reward all who have lived by His true and eternal standard of success. How will our idea of success stand on that Day?
In light of this, what definition of success have you adopted for your life? Have you adopted a definition of success that ignores the will of God? Are you trying to live up to a standard of success placed upon you by others? If so, then you will either be deceived by your worldly success or discouraged by a lack of it. We will never be satisfied trying to be something God never meant for us to be or to gain something that He never intended for us to have. When we seek to gain success outside of God’s will, it always comes at the high price of our own soul. True success is doing the will of God. Doing the will of God includes giving our life to Jesus and then following Him daily. It means dying to our own dreams and plans so that we can embrace His destiny and plan for our life. We will find His purpose for our life. Living the life God intended for us is the life that will most fulfill us and make us a success in light of eternity. Granted, people may not recognize your success in this life, but one day they will. So embrace His will for your life and discover true success that promises a reward that will never fade away.
“Heavenly Father, forgive me for adopting a false standard of success. Forgive me for selling my eternal soul for temporal treasures. I choose to lay aside my own definition of success in order to embrace Your eternal definition of success. I choose to deny myself and to follow Your will completely. Thank You for the reward that comes with true success. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.”