Achieving Godly success
By Richard F. Ames with occasional editing and comments by Newdell
We all know ambitious individuals who drive themselves. They want success at all costs. We also know people who consider themselves failures, who constantly feel like giving up and are convinced they can never be successful. But what is true success?
There is a standard of godly success, given in Scripture—and there are proven principles that can help us achieve success. Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong called these principles the “Seven Laws of Success.” Applied properly, they can help Christians find true success in life.
The Bible comments on mankind’s desire for money and wealth. King Solomon, a man to whom God gave great wisdom, wrote most of the Proverbs. Solomon had everything a human being could wish for, yet he gave this warning: “Do not toil to acquire wealth; be wise enough to desist. When your eyes light upon it, it is gone; for suddenly it takes to itself wings, flying like an eagle toward heaven” (Proverbs 23:4–5, RSV).
King Solomon was striving to experience “life to the full.” But he retained his wisdom in examining the effect of his experiences. What was the result? “Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart rejoiced in all my labor; and this was my reward from all my labor. Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done and on the labor in which I had toiled; and indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 2:10–11). In other words, all his possessions and pleasure amounted to nothing—because they produced nothing of lasting value!
Some look for success in status, power and position, rather than in wealth. Is that true success? The mother of James and John—two of Jesus’ disciples—came to Him with a request: “She said to Him, ‘Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.’ But Jesus answered and said, ‘You do not know what you ask’” (Matthew 20:21–22). He then told them that those positions were for those chosen and “prepared by My Father.”
Is it true: He who dies with the most toys wins?
Who will be the greatest?
Jesus then shared a great key to true success, in contrast to the vanity of rulers lording over others. “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:25–28).
The greatest is one who is a true servant—one who truly cares for and helps others! Notice that it was the Son of God, Jesus of Nazareth, who took little children up in His arms and who stooped over to wash the feet of His disciples. You can read about that foot-washing service in John 13. It was Jesus who sacrificed His life for us all! As the Apostle Paul wrote: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Jesus’ example was one of service, sacrifice and love. “For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Romans 5:10).
Whatever position we may hold in this life, we will never find true success unless we have an attitude of godly service toward others. One of the measures of true success is the degree of godly service one is willing to give. False success depends on the get principle, the standard carnal condition—or “default characteristic”—of human nature.
True success depends on the give principle.
Can we find success through the pursuit of knowledge? Certainly God wants us to use our minds to learn godly values and true knowledge. But unless we practice genuine humility, material knowledge may lead to intellectual vanity—a feeling of superiority and even arrogance. Knowledge puffs up, as the Apostle Paul wrote (1 Corinthians 8:1). Without God, education and learning is little more than vanity. As Paul wrote: “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their own craftiness’; and again, ‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile’” (1 Corinthians 3:18–20).
Ask yourself: how many times have you seen so-called history or theology “experts” on television, using their “expertise” to twist or pervert the plain truth of Scripture? How often have you seen the “entertainment” industry demean God’s law and Jesus Christ’s sacrifice? Truly, “the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.”
Can one find success through the pursuit of physical pleasure? King Solomon, who “had it all,” said: “I said in my heart, ‘Come now, I will test you with mirth; therefore enjoy pleasure’; but surely, this also was vanity’” (Ecclesiastes 2:1).
Today’s society seeks pleasure in sexual licentiousness, drug abuse, alcohol abuse and almost every imaginable form of stimulation. The Apostle John summed it up: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world; the lust of the flesh, the lustof the eyes, and the pride of life; is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15–17).
Billions have been deceived by sexual temptations. They are sowing to the flesh, and of the flesh they will reap corruption (Galatians 6:8). God intends human beings to enjoy sexual pleasure in marriage; He wants us to enjoy life to the full within His laws and His precepts.
After all of King Solomon’s experimentation, he came to a final conclusion. “And further, my son, be admonished by these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:12–14).
The NRSV states it a little differently: “fear God, and keep his commandments; for that is the whole duty of everyone.”
Seven Laws of Success
Once we understand what success is, we still need to devise a plan to achieve it. Herbert W. Armstrong pioneered what he called the “Seven Laws of Success”—a series of steps, or guidelines, for achieving success in a Biblically based and Christian framework. What are those laws?
I’ll cover the beginning of that discussion in the next posting.
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