Success From a Different Perspective
2Cor. 10:18 For it is not those who commend themselves that are approved, but those whom the Lord commends.
Even in Paul’s day there were those who were considered the “great” and “successful” leaders from a human perspective. They must have “boasted” about their abilities and felt “proud” of their successes. Christianity was spreading rapidly and there were those who enjoyed the preaching of certain leaders. Apparently the ones who were more engaging in their preaching were the more “successful.” Paul, who himself said he was strong in his letters, wasn’t sure that he was that forceful in person.
Paul’s concern was about faithfulness to Christ and not popularity among the people. His goal was to know Christ more and more each day. Therefore his commendation was not coming from the people around him, but from the Lord himself. Human commendation of success within the kingdom may actually take us in a direction that is not in keeping with God’s intention. Paul understood this and wanted to make certain that the people understood success from a different perspective.
Christianity itself has adopted many of the “success” principles of this world. We want to measure “success” by the numbers and by popularity. Success also seems to be equated with power and an ability to manipulate and motivate. But what about servant leadership? What about the Jesus model that did not set up an earthly kingdom but instead went to a cross? Isn’t this what Paul is really talking about here.
Jesus didn’t boast about himself. Paul wanted to imitate Christ. Paul said to follow him as he followed Christ. And all of this leads to success from a different perspective.
This success is about total obedience to Christ on a daily basis. This means that God gets the glory — not the human leader! God should be the only one who is lifted up. It is the power of God that should shine through in the life of every one of us — not our own human strength. It is in my weaknesses that he is glorified! We should allow him to take our weaknesses and fill them up with his power and strength to change the world. Then, it is always about him, and not about us.
If the world only sees strong and capable humans using their own talents and abilities they will not see God. Success for a Christian is for the world to see Christ. If we are being ever transformed into his likeness, and if this is the goal of life, to be like Christ, then success is for others to see Christ in me. Nothing else. It makes human boasting ridiculous!
May God help us to keep our eyes on Christ and the focus be on ever knowing Christ. Anything short of this is not success!
Lord, thank you for loving us and being patient with us so that we may grow in you. Amen.