Leaving the Lure and Lie of Earthly Success


I hear it all the time on television, radio and in my local coffee shop: “So-and-so is successful because he makes a lot of money, owns a big company, can jump higher, throw harder or sing a sweeter tune.”

These are the kinds of accomplishments that are considered successful. We often end up tying our identity, value and worth to something that will rust, decay or die. The question we have to ask ourselves is, “If I was asked by God to walk away from whatever form of success I have achieved, would I be willing to do so?”

The late Christian author Thomas Merton wrote: “If I had a message to my contemporaries it is surely this: Be anything you like, be madmen, drunks ... of every shape and form, but at all costs avoid one thing: success ... If you are too obsessed with success, you will forget to live. If you have learned only how to be a success, your life has probably been wasted.”

Don’t fear failure. Instead, fear succeeding at something that doesn’t matter.

It reminds me of the rich young man in Matthew 19 in the New Testament of the Bible. Jesus challenged this up-and-comer to sell all his possessions and give them to the poor so that he could then be free to wholeheartedly follow him. Instead, the man walked away because he had great wealth.

Imagine: This man had an opportunity to physically live and walk with the Son of God – the creator of the universe – and he threw it all away. His temporary earthly success was a competing loyalty and dependency that kept him from enjoying God’s spiritual and eternal riches. What is your competing loyalty?

Don’t fear failure. Instead, fear succeeding at something that doesn’t matter. Success that matters is eternal and is found in a “who” – Jesus Christ – not a “what” – money, power or prestige. Many spend their whole lives climbing the ladder of success only to find it was leaning against the wrong wall.

If we believe that temporal rewards (wealth, position, privilege) are the true measure of success, then we must say that Jesus and his followers were the greatest of failures. Yet they were clearly successful on an eternal scale.

When I was 9, my dad and mom sold everything we owned and moved our family to the Nevada desert. There they spent the next 38 years working and ministering among Native Americans. We had lived in a middle income house, drove a middle income car and served in a middle income church. By all standards we were doing well. Family and friends thought my parents had gone nuts moving our family to the desert to serve our Native American brothers and sisters.

Years later I asked my parents why they did it. My dad simply smiled and said, “Eternity is a very long time. You can’t take it with you but you can send it ahead.”My parents had no temporal wealth but they were the most fulfilled people I have ever met. My dad, who passed away in 2010, is already experiencing ultimate fulfillment in Heaven.

Beware of valuing temporal success. It comes to kill, steal and destroy your true potential and destiny. Jesus said that he came to give us life to the fullest.

Imagine the possibilities!

The Love Quiz: This is Your Life

Love isn't a game or a game show. It's our God. It's our legacy.


The Beatles sang, “All You Need is Love.” And you know what, they were right.

However, definitions matter (a lot). The pop culture brand of love is mostly based on chemistry, ooey gooey feelings and self absorption. As soon as the feelings subside, relationships can be discarded. This is not, I repeat, not the biblical notion of love.

You and I were created with a void for God’s love that nothing else can fill. We are to live in the security of His unconditional love, but that’s not all. As God fills us with His love, we are to express His love to others.

You may have heard the expression, “Love’s not a feeling.” Well what is it then? It is a verb – and one that the Scriptures clearly define for us.

"For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son to condemn the world, but that world through Him might be saved.” – John 3:16-17

You can describe God in one word: Love. To know God is to know love, for God is love (I John 4:8).

  • What kind of love do you possess?
  • What kind of love do you express?
  • Do you really want to know the answer to those two questions?

God is clear that we’re not to be known by our church attendance record, the size of (or knowledge of) our Bible or any exterior factor. We’re to be known by our love.

So how are we doing? The following is not scientific. But answer it honestly and let God use it to spur you forward, wherever you are at. It’s based on the principles of love in 1 Corinthians 13.

If you are truly a brave soul, have someone take it on your behalf.

The Quiz

1 = Nowhere to go but up
10 = I'm not Jesus, but close

1. Love suffers long and is patient.
“I am patient and will not give up when things don't go my way.” 
James 1:2-4                                           

What's your score?

2. Love is kind and tenderhearted.
“I am not stubborn, hardhearted, or continually demanding my own way.”            
Ephesians 4:30-32

What's your score?

3. Love is thankful and grateful.
“I am not jealous or envious of others.”
Philippians 4:6

What's your score?                                                                

4. Love is meek and humble.
“I seek only to practice humility and not to be prideful.”
Matthew 5:5 

What's your score? 

5. Love is selfless, is sensitive to others and puts their interests first.
“I am not selfish or demanding of my own way.”                                                               
1 Corinthians 10:23-24;33

What's your score? 

6. Love is joyful and glad.
“I am not easily irritated or provoked to anger.”                                                          
John 15:11; 17:13

What's your score? 

7. Love forgives all things and does not hold grudges.
“I will not keep record of those who have offended or wronged me.”
John 20:23              

What's your score?   

8. Love rejoices in the truth and will not believe lies.
“I will not gossip about others and seek only to speak the truth in love.”
Ephesians 4:15

What's your score?                                 

9. Love bears all things and endures all things.
“I will not give up or give in to what the world offers as love. I will always hope because I know God’s love wins in the end in every situation.”                                    
Galatians 6:2

What's your score? 

10. Love always seeks to bring peace and contentment.
“I will always seek to bring peace in every situation.”                                                     
Matthew 5:9

What's your score? 

What is one specific behavior or attitude that God has put on your heart to change? How can you submit your life more fully and practically in this area?

What do you want to be known by? I hope it is by your love. Someone once said that “LOVE, is the flag that is flown from the castle of the heart when the King is in residence there.” We do not surrender to our circumstances but to His love.

Imagine the possibilities!