Saturday, November 24, 2012

Weekly Impressions - Success and Failure


Lamentations 3:22-23
“The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.”

God has a different definition of success and failure than we humans do.  Success as the world sees it, is more about what we do and how we do it, whereas in God, there is always success, because God is the one upon Whom things rely - and God never fails.  There is always Victory in Christ.  God uses our “failures” just as much, if not more than, our “successes.”  

Struggling with worry about failing is one of my weaknesses.  I am so afraid of man and of being rejected by man that I have let man take the throne of God.  It is self-defeating because as soon as I put something other than God on the throne of my heart, I can no longer have Victory.  

One of the verses I cherish is Isaiah 51:12-13:  “I, even I, am He who comforts you.  Who are you that you are afraid of man who dies and of the son of man who is made like grass, that you have forgotten the LORD your maker, Who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth, that you fear continually all day long because of the fury of the oppressor, as he makes ready to destroy?  But where is the fury of the oppressor?”

I have to ask myself that very question:  Where is the fury of the oppressor?  By fearing the oppressor, I give the oppressor the throne, which grants him power over me.  (You can also replace the word “oppressor” with “sin.”)  By fearing God, I give God the throne, which grants Him power over me.  Would you rather serve God or the oppressor?  My flesh answers, “Neither!  I will serve myself!”

This is a smart answer in the eyes of the world, but consider - do you oppress yourself?  I do.  I crush myself under my own thumb because my desires require perfection, and I am not perfect.  I must submit to God, and He will take care of me as I need to be taken care of.

I am reminded of the scene in C.S. Lewis’ allegory The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, when the children ask the beavers if Aslan is safe.  The famous truncated reply is, “ ‘Course he isn’t safe.  But he’s good.”

It isn’t safe to put God on the throne of your heart.  Just ask Christian missionaries in the Middle East.  But, once put there, He will never do anything that isn’t for your good.  (Romans 8:28-29)

So how do we put Him on the throne of our heart?  

First, you must invite Him, and accept the gift of His son, Jesus, who was crucified in order to forgive your sins and bridge the gap between you and God that sin created.  (If you’d like to learn how, click here.)  This will also allow the Holy Spirit to begin a good work in you (Philippians 1:6), and will enable you to perform God’s two greatest commandments:  1) “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37), and  2) “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39)  

Second, you must “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness...” (Matthew 6:33).  Now if you’re like me, you’re wondering what exactly this phrase looks like in action.  A friend recently put it to me this way:  in whatever you are doing, ask yourself, “How can I serve the Lord in this?”  

For example, I am not seeking Christ first when I am worrying about something - say finances.  So how can I serve the Lord in my finances?  I can tithe, I can be a good steward of His money (because it really isn’t mine), and I can use it to care for God’s family.  (How you specifically use your money is between you and God, and will look different for every individual and family.  He doesn’t call us all to the same plan, but tailors it according to the giftings He has given us and circumstances in which He has placed us.)

So what does success look like for the Christian?  It is serving God for His purposes.  Will we fail?  Yes.  But God is greater than our failures, and will turn them for our good.

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