I recently prepared for a sermon on what God thinks about success, and I found that it boils down to one word, “faithfulness. God uses faithfulness as a standard for what He rewards. We see this as Jesus gave the seven churches in the Book of Revelation their citations based upon their "lack of faithfulness." (Only the church at Philadelphia #6 was exempt, and He did praise the church for their faithfulness)
- You left your first love
- You will suffer don’t avoid it
- You are putting stumbling blocks preventing people to worship God
- You tolerate compromise
- You appear to be alive but in reality you are dead
- You have little power but have kept my word
- You say I have no need of anything
So if we were to sum-up in a sentence what these citations were saying it might be a sentence like this:
“You are giving more attention and time to the ideas and work of the ministry and compromising the ministry of knowing and obeying God.”
The one common denominator throughout these two chapters is the “lack of faithfulness” to Him. When you read through each citation you begin to see the pattern of compromising their faithfulness to Jesus. They were losing perspective in what it meant to be faithful and began to serve the success of their work. I then began to wonder what Jesus would say to us in the church today and concluded it wouldn’t change too much from what He told those seven churches.
Leonard Ravenhill once was asked: "Do you pray for the dead?" I said, "No, I preach to them!" I think every pew in every church is death row. Think about that! They're dead! They sing about God; they talk about God, but they're dead! They have no living relationship (with God).
I know this might sound insulting to many of us who have been in the church for some time, but is he right? Is the church dead in mind and spirit?
If we were honest as Christians we would admit that we often struggle with knowing the God of the Bible. We have Westernized the scriptures so much that we forget Jesus was Jewish, and the Bible is a Jewish document. Too many Christian leaders have invented a cultural God with the attributes found in our trendy culture, but it’s not the God of the Bible. I had a conversation the other day in talking with a Christian who supports Hillary Clinton: I said, “God does not support abortion nor does He condone homosexuality.” I explained that God doesn’t withhold His love from those who practice such things He just doesn’t support those practices. The point I am making is that if you know the God of the Bible you don’t exchange the truth for what is popular. I also realize that with the passing of time culture continues to indoctrinate us in believing that religion is fine to practice in the privacy of church membership, but don’t mingle it with real life.
This is the direction religion is going in America, Christians are being forced to keep to themselves and that includes their opinions too. I am not a fatalist as I look to the future, but in the short run we will not be popular amidst the progressive thinking of today.
That is why Jesus warned us that we would be persecuted for our faithfulness.
Matthew 24:9 “"Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers.
Jesus didn’t hide the truth, nor did He avoid telling it. This is one of our biggest defects today we don’t want to be upsetting to anyone so we will avoid the fight or the awkwardness of telling the truth.
So how does God measure success? One word: “faithfulness.”
As we stand before God someday our goal should be to hear those words: “well done thou good and faithful servant.” Faithfulness will be the grid upon which our lives will be rewarded. So as you think about success today, think of it in terms of being faithful to God.
Keeping it honest and truthful…K