What is Success?

We have just returned from a mission to carry the cross up Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa. We did lift the cross up above Africa. This was our mission. However none of the 11 of us on the climb made it to the top peak. The cross was carried up the mountain to the summit area but not to the top. Now did we succeed or fail?

It all depends on what you consider success to be. For me we did the will of God and accomplished the mission and call of God.

We are living in a world today that has made ‘success’ the center and focus of life.

How to have a successful marriage!
How to have a successful church!
How to have a successful home!
How to have a successful date!
How to have success with your money!
How to have successful relationships!
How to have success in your ‘game’ sports!
How to have successful sex life!
How to have a successful prayer life!
How to have a successful ministry!
How to lose weight successfully!

On and on I could go’¦ you understand the point. Only problem is that none of us succeed in ‘all’ things in life.

So we are still faced with ‘what is success?’

There is a huge human desire to succeed. Just look at how people identify with winners!
Have a sports team that loses often and it is hard for their souvenir t-shirts and etc. to sell. But let them win a championship and it seems you see people wearing their emblems.

This carries over also into the religious world.
When many refer to preachers it goes something like this:
“Have you read this book, or heard Brother’? He has the fastest growing church in the world. He pastors that huge church”
We lavish praise on others by saying how big the crowd this person speaks to. Or how much money this man makes. Or how famous this person is. Or whom they know.
Success is how many identify themselves and others.

Now when you look at the Bible you find something shocking!
The term success is not even there in the form we use it today. However it does appear a few times in some translations.

The word is: Sakal “to be prudent, act wisely, give attention to, ponder, prosper.” This word, which is common to both ancient and Modern Hebrew, is found approximately 75 times in the text of the Hebrew Bible. Its first use in the text, in Genesis 3:6, was “to be desired to make one wise.’
The basic meaning of sakal seems to be “to look at, to give attention to,” as illustrated in this parallelism: “That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand…” Isaiah 41:20. From this develops the connotation of insight, intellectual comprehension: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom… But let him that glories glory in this that he understands and knows Me.

Sakal is a primitive root; to be (causatively, make or act) circumspect and hence, intelligent:

In the King James Version it is translated in many ways:
“consider, expert, instruct, prosper, prudent, skill, have good success, teach, (have, make to) understand, wisdom, (be, consider, make) wise, guide wittingly.’

(From Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words)

The Heritage Bible uses the word in:

Joshua 1:7 “because then you shall prosper in your way, and then you shall be
intelligently successful.’

In the footnote Pastor Turner says,
1:7 intelligently successful, sakal. The
root meaning of sakal is to be prudent, act
intelligently, to attend with your mind, and
become understanding and successful.

What God gives is wisdom and knowledge and blessings!

Again in the Bible as we look at Jesus we see that how we succeed is in how much we give away!

Success is how much we lose! How much we deny of self. It is how much we love and whom we love.

Please consider the following words of Jesus.

Matt 16:24-26
Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

Mark 10:21-27
Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”
2But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!”
And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God!
“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
And they were greatly astonished, saying among themselves, “Who then can be saved?”
But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.”

Luke 9:23-25
Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
“For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.
“For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?

So what then is ‘success’?

For me I do not use the word or consider it in my life but for the sake of this column I will use it.

Success is ‘doing the will of God’!

“Here is my life oh Lord. Take me, cleanse me, fill me, empty me and fix my eyes on You Lord Jesus! I want to follow You and Do Your Will. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and may I live this life from now on in the Power of God for the Glory of God.

Success is not so much what we get as what we give.

What is the quality of my love?

Matthew 25:23-24
“His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’
“His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’

Pilgrim followers of Jesus,

Arthur and Denise Blessitt
Luke 18:1