Charles Colson declared, "The mark isn't 'success,' it's faithfulness. God calls us, not to success, but to faith-obedience and trust and service, and He bids us to be unconcerned with measuring the merits of our work the way the world does. We are to sow; He will reap as He pleases."
In Joshua 1:8, God promises Joshua that he would "have good success" as he walked in obedience to the Word of God.
According to the Amplified Bible, "This is the only place in the early English versions where the word 'success' is found." The Hebrew word here means, "intelligence, prudence, wisdom and skillfulness." It has nothing to do with fame, fortune, or notoriety.
Zig Ziglar stated, "Success means doing the best we can with what we have. Success is the doing, not the getting – in the trying, not the triumph. Success is a personal standard - reaching for the highest in us."
In one of Isaiah's prophecies concerning Christ, he wrote, "Then I said, 'I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing in vain; yet surely my just reward is with the Lord, and my work with my God' (:4)." The Hebrew word for "just reward" is "verdict." Christ is saying, "The final verdict is with my Father. He alone passes judgment on my labors, and how successful I have been."
Missionary Andy Raatz correctly observed, "The world's measurement system of success is centered on numbers, money, influence and fame. God's system of measurement is based on faith, character and trust. He measures with an eternal yardstick, seeing souls and spiritual growth as standards of success."
Mother Teresa attended a gathering with kings, presidents, and statesmen from all over the world. They were there in their crowns, jewels, and expensive apparel, while Mother Teresa wore her sari, held together by a safety pin. When questioned about her work with the poorest in Calcutta, she was asked if she had become discouraged because she saw such little success. Mother Teresa replied, "No, I do not become discouraged. You see, God has not called me to a ministry of success. He has called me to a ministry of mercy."
According to Paul's words, "The fire will test each man's work, of what sort it is," and not what size it is, meaning, "the fire will test and critically appraise the character and worth of the work each person has done" (Amplified Bible, 1 Corinthians 3:13).
When Hudson Taylor left China after a lifetime of faithfulness, he only left a few churches behind. Most believed that his spiritual heirs must have died during Mao's Cultural Revolution. Yet today, it is conservatively estimated, that there are well over 100 million Chinese Christians, reminding us that we do not always see the fruit of our labor.
1 Corinthians 15:58, "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."
Dave Arnold, Pastor
Gulf Coast Worship Center
New Port Richey