‘“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe 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).”’
We all want to make a success of our lives, and if we are mature enough we have an understanding of what constitutes that success.
I have a grandson whose ambition is to make a lot of money so that he will be secure in his retirement. This is his passion and the course he has chosen. There’s no doubt that many people want to do the same, but little do they realise God may take away their life at any moment (Luke 12:16-20). He will judge them (Hebrews 9:27); and according to how they have lived, they will face eternity: either in heaven or in hell.
It hasn’t been revealed to them (Matthew 13:11-17) that there is only one successful outcome to life, and that is receiving an inheritance in the kingdom of God (John 14:2; cf. Ephesians 5:5; 1 Corinthians 6:9). In His wisdom and providence He gives an inheritance to those who believe and trust in His Son (John 3:14-18).
As I’ve said before, all of us are *failures, and therefore only God can make us successful. However, while we are His servants (John 12:26) He gives us certain tasks to fulfil (Matthew 28:19, 20), and if we obediently fulfil them He will give us success.
Biblical Examples of Success
God commanded Joshua to be strong and very courageous and to observe the law (Joshua 1:7). If he obeyed God, in doing it he would be prosperous wherever he went. God commissioned him to lead the Israelites into the land. If they too obeyed Him, they would be successful in overcoming the inhabitants of Canaan and they would possess the land as their inheritance (v.6).
Joseph was chosen of God to fulfil the task of feeding His people (cf. Genesis 50:20) in a time of famine. We read in Genesis 39:2-4 ‘The LORD was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD made all he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favour in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put in his hand.’
His success was because ‘The LORD was with’ him (v.2), and ‘the LORD made all he did to prosper in his hand (v. 3b).’ It was all of the LORD’s doing. As with Joshua, he obeyed the command of the LORD.
When the Israelites rebelled against Moses who had been commissioned by God to lead them into the promised land, things went terribly wrong for them. Even Miriam and Aaron spoke against him (Numbers 12:1) and challenged his leadership (v. 2), but the LORD reproved them and spoke to them at the door of the tabernacle (vv. 4, 5). Because of their disobedience the LORD was angry with them (v. 9), and ‘Miriam became leprous, as white as snow (v. 10).’
Later, apart from Joshua and Caleb, the whole congregation murmured against Moses and Aaron (Numbers 14:2). Because Joshua and Caleb were faithful and obedient (vv. 8, 9), the LORD brought them into the land of promise (vv. 30, 38) and thus they were successful.
We note that Solomon was successful because he also obeyed the command of the LORD (cf. 1 Chronicles 28:6, 10).
‘Thus Solomon finished the house of the LORD and the king’s house; and Solomon successfully accomplished all that came into his heart to make in the house of the LORD and in his own house (2 Chronicles 7:11).’
The Key to Success
The key to success is faithful obedience to the LORD. It’s not the amassing of riches here on earth, but seeking, ‘first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you (Matthew 6:33).’