There is no shortage of books and articles that tell you how to be successful. Now success can happen in many areas. Most want to be rich or famous, but some want to be an expert in their field. If you read any material, they will usually tell you that you have to set goals, plan your path, and then grind away till it happens. King Solomon gives us the secret to success you won’t read anywhere else.
“A righteous person acts with integrity; his children who come after him will be happy. Even a courageous person’s steps are determined by the Lord, so how can anyone understand his own way?”
Know these two things
Goals, strategy, and hard work are noble pursuits, and there is nothing wrong with them but look again at what Solomon says. Integrity and sovereignty are the two secrets. Integrity is best defined as what you do when no one is watching, and sovereignty is the understanding God is in control, and we are not.
You will usually hear people give lip service to integrity and they typically refer to it as character, but it is really doing the right thing. Traveling the path to success, you will encounter many temptations and shortcuts that promise to get you there sooner, but beware they are all lies and traps. Doing the right thing every day begins to add up after time. It takes perseverance, but if you stick with it, you will see the rewards. One of the benefits will be that your children will be happy. Many successful people have forsaken their families and paid the price later. Do the right thing, and you will reap long term benefits.
Submit to God’s Plans
Sovereignty is defined as God having the ability to make decisions on his own without answering to anyone else. If he is in control of how things are going, then he is going to order our steps. You can have all the courage and passion in the world, but your success is not all up to you. God wants us to submit under his plans and allow him to put us on the best path. The secret to success is to live with integrity and under the sovereignty of the Lord.
There has always been a debate in the church about how much alcohol a Christian is should drink. There are loud voices on both sides offering their opinions. The real issue is those who are struggling with alcoholism and overindulgence of food. There is a significant self-control issue in the church. It’s not just with food or alcohol either. Lack of self-control can lead us to poverty and despair. The struggle with self-control is real.
“Don’t associate with those who drink too much wine or with those who gorge themselves on meat. For the drunkard and the glutton will become poor, and grogginess will clothe them in rags.”
Leads Down the Wrong Path
Solomon is not attacking the alcoholic or the glutton. He is telling people to avoid them because of the lifestyle that those habits produce. When we eat or drink too much we become groggy (read hungover) and it takes a while for us to recover. Who hasn’t crashed out on the couch from too much turkey on Thanksgiving? A lifestyle like this though will, in the end, bankrupt the person.
This proverb is all about self-control. Ironically is it is also one the Spiritual Fruit that Paul talks about in Galatians. As we grow closer to the Lord, the fruit of self-control should manifest itself in our lives. Sadly, many Christians struggle with overeating. Does this mean that God is judging them? No, not at all. Paul tells us in Romans that even he did the things he didn’t want to do and didn’t do the things he should be doing. All of us struggle with issues like these.
Get the Help You Need
The Struggle with Self-Control is real. If we are struggling with issues like gluttony or alcoholism we need help. James tells us to bring our need to the Elders so they can pray for us. He also tells us to bear one another burdens. Prayer and accountability is the only way that we are going to overcome this. Don’t let your shame or guilt keep you from seeking help. Go and get the support you need.
The average worker takes twenty minutes to get back to his work once he is distracted. The average person spends seven hours on his smartphone each day. Five billion videos are watched on Youtube every day. That is a lot of wasted time that doesn’t produce anything of value. The Bible is very clear that we have to guard against those time stealers that drain us of our productivity.
And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. For the LORD will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, Only fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.
Wise Words for Life
These words are spoken by Samuel the Judge to the newly anointed king Saul. They are wise words for life, especially anyone in leadership. Unfortunately, Saul didn’t follow his advice and lost the blessing that came with being king. God rejected Saul and had Samuel anoint David as the future king.
Stick to the Path
The Bible often uses the metaphor of walking a path to explain life. Samuel tells Saul to stay on the strait and narrow path and not to turn off the path to aside and waste time with empty things that don’t generate profit. Think for a second how many times a day you get distracted by empty, worthless things. Maybe its a notification on your phone or one of those red circles with a number pops up in one of your apps. Whatever it is we chase after it and pretty soon we have wasted twenty minutes.
Focus on what is important
Focus on those things that deliver. For a king it is the welfare of the country, for a boss, it is the profit of the company, and for a family, it is the provision of everyone needs. Do the important things first and if you finish them then reward yourself with some mindless time playing a game or reading facebook updates. Don’t procrastinate until the last moment wasting times on things that will not profit you or others and then rush to finish all of your tasks.
Always remember that God is not going to forsake you. Serve him faithfully and remember the great things he has done for you. Trust that he has your best interests in mind and go about doing what you need to do. Don’t waste your time worrying about things that are out of your control. Give those worries to God and go about your business.
It’s basketball season and every day I see at least one video of a team hitting a shot at the buzzer to win the game. Just last night my team, UCLA, came back from 17 points down with a little over two minutes to go to win the game in over time. They scored 9 points in the last 50 seconds! The final shot in regulation was put in as the buzzer went off. It was exciting but for every buzzer-beating shot ten shots miss the mark, and the team loses. The same goes in life. Sometimes we miss the mark. What do we do when we miss the mark?
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Missing the Mark
Sometimes in life, you accomplish what you hoped too. Other times you fail because of a poor decision and we miss the mark. All of us have had failures in life unfortunately very few people fully recover from them and move on. The scar left afterward affects how we live from that point. What do we do when we miss the mark? The Apostle Paul gives us some insight in the book of Romans.
Understanding the Standard
All of us are going to fail, and all of us are going to sin. When we sin we fall short of God’s standard and thus disqualify ourselves from heaven. It doesn’t matter how many good things we have done or how successful we are in life; one sin prevents us from walking through those pearly gates. It is only when we understand that it is the blood Jesus shed on the cross that removes those sins that we can enter into eternity. We need His forgiveness from our sins plus we need his righteousness for God to approve. Nothing else will suffice.
Getting to that point can be difficult. The Apostle Paul had to get knocked on his butt by Jesus on a road just outside Damascus to open his eyes. No one was more religious than he was. No one did it better or had more zeal for God than he did. All of that effort didn’t get him close to God. You can even argue that it pushed him farther away. Paul had to realize that all his best efforts were like dirty rags to Jesus and that his sins had him on a first class ticket to hell. It was only when he recognized Jesus as his Lord and savior was he forgiven and restored to a right relationship with God.
On the Right Path
So many of us are working our butts off to impress God and to feel better about our failures. We are hoping that God will see us as a good person and let us into heaven. Sadly that won’t happen. It will only happen when we realize that we are a sinner in need of His grace. All of have fallen into sin, and nothing we do can get us out of it. Only the blood of Jesus will accomplish that. What do you do when you missed the mark? Go to Jesus and ask for forgiveness. He will pick you up and set you on the right path.
Were you ever the last picked in a playground game? I know I have been and remember what it felt like. It was often a popularity contest where the team captains chose their friends. Sadly, it doesn’t change much as adults. Too many times leaders show partiality. Fortunately, God doesn’t play favorites.
There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality.
God Doesn’t Overlook Evil
It is interesting that Paul is speaking these words in the book of Romans. They sound like something you would read in the Old Testament. The point Paul is trying to make is that God doesn’t overlook the evil deeds of people no matter who they are. Tribulation and distress will come upon those who do evil. The first person who will get it is the Jew. There is no one more favored in the Bible than a Jew, and yet they will be judged first.
Contrast that with those who do good. Paul tells us that glory, honor, and peace will rest upon everyone who does good. God honors and blesses those who do good, and he punishes those who do evil. While we can’t do enough good works to gain entrance to heaven, we are expected to do them, and we will be rewarded for it.
Getting a Fair Shake
It is good to know that we have a God who isn’t partial. He doesn’t play favorites but judges all of us equally. You are going to get a fair shake from God whether it happens in the church or not. He sees what you and he will act accordingly. If you want peace in your life choose to do the right things.
Very few things are more heartbreaking than when the relationship with a friend is broken. The pain and heartache that we go through are more than some people can bear. When you drill down to the source of the problem you can usually find two culprits, one person was offended or gossiped about another. King Solomon shows us how to overlook the offense and preserve the friendship.
“Whoever conceals an offense promotes love, but whoever gossips about it separates friends.”
Look Past It
At first glance, this may seem a little off. Whoever conceals an offense? Sound illegal but what Solomon is saying is whoever overlooks an offense promotes love. Face it, we are all human, and we are going to offend people with our words or actions, and it is going to happen to us. True friends know how to move past those offenses by forgiving the person and choosing to love them.
When we choose to remain hurt and punish the person who hurt us by retaliating or ignoring them it only makes the matter worse. Most of the time the offense happened by accident or misunderstanding and unravels out of control because we add the drama of our feelings to it. Everything we do should be motivated by love, especially when it comes to dealing with someone who has hurt us. Even if the offense was intentional, our response should always be out of love and to overlook it.
Another way that we conceal an offense is by remaining silent when the offense occurs. What truly separates friends is the talk that happens after the offense. Instead of trying to understand what really happened we start talking to others to get them on our side. We exaggerate what we say and add in speculation about the other person intentions and before you know and all-out war is happening.
Nip it in the Bud
The goal is to preserve the friendship. In rare occasions that is not possible, but most of the time it can be salvaged when we overlook an offense and choose to remain silent. The last thing our circle of friends needs is another drama. Extinguish it before it starts, and you will end up with a stronger friendship.