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Food for the Soul

Food for the Soul, devotionals to help you in your busy life, written by NEWIM board members and staff. 

The Significance of Success (4/4/2015)

Kim Johnson

Commit to the Lord whatever you do.
And your plans will succeed.
— Proverbs 16:3 (NIV)

People love the spectacular. Tourists flock to the natural wonders in the United States: the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls and Yellowstone, to name a few. The world holds an overabundance of equally incredible places, man-made as well as natural, that attract thousands of tourists wanting an in-person glimpse of these phenomenal marvels. We humans create other wonders such as daredevil shows and extreme sports, watched by thousands. We love to be amazed.

We serve a God who is amazing. He has certainly proven capable of the extraordinary from creating these wonders of our world to providing a way to escape the judgment for sin through His Son. Yet some of His best work was done through the ordinary or seemingly insignificant. For instance, God’s answer to critical times was to send a baby: Isaac to Abraham, Moses for the Israelites, Samuel in answer to prayer and John the Baptist who preceded the most important baby of all, Jesus. In delivering the Israelites He used a small army of hundreds that succeeded in conquering thousands. When Jesus chose His disciples, he limited the group to twelve. And when Jesus fed the multitude, a boy’s small lunch was more than sufficient in the hands of our Lord.

All of these are examples of God’s power through minimal means. It certainly is incongruent with the bigger and better approach in ministry today. We don’t say, “Go big or go home,” but our methods seem to imply that mantra. In essence, doing anything small is often perceived as ineffective.

In God’s economy however, that is far from true. Seeking enormous displays of God’s power is not necessarily the true measure of success by God’s standards. Was the intended result to astound or to be obedient? Did we act on our own power or with God’s? Were we trying to impress someone or submit to the leading of the Holy Spirit? It is easy to get caught in the momentum and overlook what the Lord said to Samuel in 1 Samuel 16:7b (NIV): “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

God does not measure our success in numbers or by performance. He looks beyond the public acclaim to the secret intentions of our hearts. The significance of success is never about succeeding and always about submitting, for His glory alone.

It is not your business to succeed, but to do right:
when you have done so, the rest lies with God.
— C.S. Lewis