The culture is continually pressing us to adopt its definition of “success.” Just look at the advertisements. All it takes to be successful is the purchase of their product. Investors on the other hand promise financial success with a purchase of precious metals or their inside trading insights newsletter. Then there is our mirror, enough said! There is an endless line of products, pursuits, perspective and promises of success. But what does the Bible teach?
Yes, the Bible does speak to genuine success. We should not be surprised that success is not found in any of the culture’s markers of a person’s value. Biblical success is in our accomplishment, our acquisitions or our achievements. It is a byproduct of my relationship with the Lord, my character.
Joseph is a model of the Biblical success. The progression of his life was anything but successful from our perspective. God perspective was the opposite, success even in the middle of catastrophic events. A Biblical definition of success reminds us to see my situations from the Lord’s perspective. He was born into a large blended family from Jacob’s four wives. His favorite status with his father encouraged the jealousy of his older step-brothers. The tension would result in him being sold to slave traders. This, of course, was God’s protection from the brothers’ original plans to take his life.
The loss of freedom and separation from the home and the family he loved was just the beginning. He would be falsely accused of inappropriate intentions towards his master’s wife after rebuffing her inappropriate advances. It would seem that his faithfulness to his master and integrity before God only landed him behind bars. And if that was not enough, those he helped in prison quickly forgot about his kindnesses once they were released. There is no way, according to cultural standards, anyone would consider Joseph a success. In fact, he might be condemned for being a contributing party to his brothers’ jealousy. Others might raise his lack of control or appreciation for his accused advances toward Potiphar’s wife. His time in “King’s prison” was of his own doing.
But let us never forget that while man looks at the externals, God looks at the heart. Individuals are welcome to their opinions but they are not the judges of genuine success. God is! Genesis provides us with the King of Kings judgment on Joseph in the King’s Prison. “The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph’s charge, because the Lord was with him. And whatever he did, the Lord made it succeed.” (Genesis 39:23)
The quicksand of culture swallows many in the pursuit of worldly success. Followers of Jesus are not inoculated to the lure and temptation of the “trinkets” of this world. The Lord provides us with a definition of success and the path to Biblical success. “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)
-Pastor Joe Parkinson