This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on
it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is
written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will
have good success. Joshua 1:8
I heard a preacher on the Christian radio station. I didn’t catch his name, but I caught his message. He said there is a great difference in success as a goal and success as an outcome. That hit home to me. We are so goal orientated in today’s world. The ends justify the means. Anything to get us there the fastest we can,, no matter how many toes we step on as we climb the rung to success. It seems business has lost any ethical standards.
How different it is in the Gospels. We cannot measure success the way God sees it. We are not supposed to. Only He can see the future and how it will work out. I am not saying we should not be financially responsible and plan, but if we keep Christ as the guide in our lives, can we not trust in the promise that the outcome will be a success? We may not all end up billionaires, but we will end up taken care of. God knows our needs along this journey on earth. (See Matthew 6:25-33) If we make success our goal in life, we lose sight of the journey and the wonders along the way. We have blinders like a horse and miss the serendipities in our peripheral vision. And, we may get discouraged because it is not going as we have planned. That is trying to bend God’s will to us, not bending our will to Him.
Success as an outcome lives wiggle room for God’s mercies and wonderful surprises. It also makes it easier for us to be flexible enough to veer off what we thought was the what He had planned for us, to slow down a bit, or to stop and rest along the way. It leaves Him in control.
And what is success? If we let God define that, it is as Joshua said – following His ways so in the end we will hear as we kneel at the throne of Heaven, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” We are blessed that, unlike the Hebrews in Joshua’s time, we have an eternal high priest in Jesus Christ whose blood was shed for us, so we can ask forgiveness and cleansing daily, if not hourly, along the way. We are no longer bound by the dotted i’s and crossed t’s of the law, because Christ has completed it.
Our job, our goal should be as Micah 6:8 says, to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God. If we do that, and asks forgiveness when we don’t, can the outcome be anything but success?