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Focus on America


Definition of success

Success is a much-sought-after commodity, and its definition varies widely. Some measure it in dollars, numbers or influence. But the best definition is, simply, “pleasing God.” Nothing is higher than that.

Israel, chosen by God to be the Old Testament spiritual leader, never learned how to handle material success. The more they were blessed, the deeper they plunged into sin. Many great denominations today do not resemble their humble beginnings, and their decline occurred after they experienced great success. Many spiritual leaders who have failed did so at the peak of success, not in the pit of despair.

Whether for an individual or a denomination, one common Achilles’ heel is prosperity. Few fail during financial struggles but many have failed in the midst of abundance. I have never met anyone who said they wanted to get saved because they were so prosperous. But I have prayed with many who got saved because they were broke or bankrupt. It is never God’s will that we fall into sin and shame, and it is not success that causes this disaster. Rather, our downfall comes when we fail to keep doing the things that brought God’s success into our lives in the first place.

One of the surprises of heaven will be the judgment of believers and their subsequent reward as we see that which God classifies as success and that which He ignores. There will be many unknowns standing at the head of the line. Some will be Sunday School teachers who faithfully shaped lives year after year with the Word in their hearts and a love for people. Some will be pastors, evangelists or missionaries who gave their best while seeing very little measurable results. The books will be balanced, and many faithful believers will receive their just reward.

We cannot make the seed sprout, but we can be faithful as we plant, water and do that which God has called us to do. That is true success.

—Charles Hackett

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