Success – The Path of the Godly (by High School Zach)

NOTE: This is a bit of early writing. Apparently this garnered an A+ in a senior year high school writing class. Now, I see the obvious deficiencies in it, and my valedictorian speech represents me a lot better. Still, please feel free to argue with my younger self! The image above has nothing to do with this, moreso Charles Stanley’s book (and sermon series) Success God’s Way.

Success has become, in recent years, a hotly debated topic. Generally, the definition is subjective because of the ethical relativist society established in the world. However, every person can cite one similar meaning for success: they know it when they see it. What is a true definition for success that is absolute and universal?

By common vernacular, it is the achievement of something desired, whether it be fame, prosperity, or the extent of material wealth. This explanation is vague and does not answer the question well. True success cannot come from the world as mankind can see from the past.

The only answer to this question lies within the Bible. It is a necessity to submit to Jesus Christ in order to become a success. True success can only be found by being an obedient person by following God’s will. Inherently, success can only be founded through a Biblical perspective. Through an examination of the Bible, human nature, and talents, Biblical Christianity becomes the natural way of living for those seeking success.

Although the word “success” is only used a number of times within its pages, the Bible is still a valid tool for successful principles. God, for example, is the main factor in the success of the Christian’s walk. Throughout Scripture, there are many references to successful living, or “prospering”. For example, in 3 John 2, it states

Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.

The author of this passage makes a bold statement: a God exists who wishes for you to prosper in all that you do. Thus, we see that success is an integral part of a Christian’s life. Success cannot merely be material in this realm; God also demands that we be successful in the spiritual aspect as well. A relationship with Him is just as important as any physical wealth. Because of this metaphysical aspect, it can be deduced that success can be attained regardless of circumstance.

Daniel, whose country was invaded by the Babylonians, employed this principle. Though he faced many hardships in his life (the most famous being his experience in the lion’s den), God continued to make Daniel prosper continually. As Daniel 6:28 points out,

So this Daniel enjoyed success in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

There are countless examples of successful people from the Bible, even when placed against any worldly standard. Of course, from the same illustrations, we also see many failures. Noah, the man who built the Ark in Genesis, became drunk and lied out in the open naked. Jeremiah was dropped into a boiling cauldron for following God’s principles. Every day is tempered with struggle, but it is our approach to this struggle which makes one a success. A person must understand the Bible as an essential tool in perceiving the concept of success.

Human nature can also reveal the concept of success. Every person has come into this world goal-oriented. There has never been a time on this earth when a person has not had any goals. Even Adam was given the task to name all of the animals, and he dutifully performed the task. Small children exemplify this concept as well from their desire to walk; they may fall down repeatedly, but they will keep trying to walk until they succeed. For Christians, God has given you a desire to take action. He has given you an inbred motivation to achieve what you desire.

However, even bad actions can corrupt these once godly motivations. Mankind generally chooses the dark path to success. In many cases it is easier to break the law to fulfill desires. Others ignore the desire for success entirely, instead deigning to live within poverty and asking for handouts from the government. Thus, the desire God has placed within humans is neutral. Nonetheless, it is our task to use our insatiable desires in the right way. No desire is inherently evil, but the path which man chooses is the problem. People must train themselves to avoid these problems by referencing back to the Bible, which directly states the means man can pursue in order to achieve godly success. Thus, the Bible reveals human nature’s relationship to natural desire is integral to obtaining true success.

The human race has been gifted with various talents and skills that show a design for success. The natural aptitude for a particular skill, regardless of its content, is truly proof that God created man for success. Discovering talents and correctly applying them are critical to God’s success plan. When developing these talents, one is aided by the Holy Spirit. This entity nudges the believer in the right direction for following God’s will. By giving Christians the ability to discern right and wrong, the Holy Spirit allows them to employ these natural abilities where God wills them to be used. Man is able to use these gifts to their maximum because of this suitable environment. Gods glory will be fully displayed when one finds this proper place.

In addition, the Holy Spirit will make sure that mankind does not give up in their struggle to use God’s gifts. God has given man these talents and has given them an appropriate aid to use these talents. There is no excuse that can block these simple truths and prevent one from succeeding. God has even given the human race another powerful tool: prayer. It is within prayer that a Christian can speak directly to God: they can voice their worries, cares, and desires to follow God in all things. It is impossible not to know where God wishes to lead person because of this fact. Thus, God has devised plan for mankind’s use of talents through various tools he has provided.

God cannot be left out of a proper definition for success. Through the populace has disregarded Christianity as dogmatic, they fail to realize how many questions about success it answers. Instead, they would rather waste what has been given to them, preferring to live a life of no success. Since man refuses to surrender his supposed independence, he can never be truly happy or successful in whatever he does.

Examining both the world’s view and the Bible’s view of success, it is incredibly easy to see which has been more profitable throughout time. Peter walked on water, Joshua tumbled the walls of Jericho, Moses parted the Red Sea, and hosts of others followed God’s will. By staying within the center of His will, a Christian will shout to the world God’s glory and become a blessing to others. The Bible proves there is a lengthy explanation behind success. The only way one can become what God truly desires for them to be is to confess your sins to Jesus Christ. A personal relationship with God will allow anyone to reach God’s standards for life. His purpose can be achieved once Jesus has been accepted as redeemer. Without God, there is no success. Failure is the only option for those who reject the Gospel.

About Zachery Oliver

Zachery Oliver, MTS, is the lead writer for Theology Gaming, a blog focused on the integration of games and theological issues. He can be reached at viewtifulzfo at gmail dot com or on Theology Gaming’s Facebook Page.
  • Lately, I use words like “worldly” and “biblical” less and less. Like for example, I’d frame this post in different terminology to say the same thing:

    “The closest word to “Success” in the Ancient Hebrew world is _____.” It comes up ____ times in the whole council of scripture. That is to say, it’s not terribly important from the Hebraic worldview. What is important? Family. And not in our 21st century concept of family (wife, kids, pets, etc.), but how we honour our family legacy, especially our dads. So the question becomes, ‘What honours our ancestors the most?’

    Okay. Maybe my take would get weird fast. I think I live in this weird conflict of wanting to retell stories the weirdest way possible while also being remotely readable. I think the Coen Brothers seem to do that in fascinating ways. Not that I think they do themes remotely well.

    • Zachery Oliver

      Yeah, High School Zach wasn’t too keen on thinking this through very much. But hey, I got an A+ and all that, so even bad writing can garner good grades.