“Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.” – Proverbs 3:3-4
How do you define success? That is one of the most important questions in life. If you do not define what success means for you, then someone else will. If you chase the wrong definition of success, your life will be fundamentally misdirected. Proverbs teaches us in these two verses how to understand success from God’s point of view.
The Example of Jonathan Edwards
Jonathan Edwards was a dominant figure in the eighteenth-century American church. Anyone educated in the United States knows his powerful sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” In fact, Edwards’ preaching sparked the First Great Awakening. Additionally, he produced some of the greatest philosophical writing in this nation’s history. His influence even extends to our time through John Piper’s perspective on “Christian Hedonism.” Edwards was a spiritual and intellectual giant.
Did you know that Edwards’ church fired him? Considering his resume, that might surprise you! Edwards chose faithfulness to the Word of God and his conscience regarding a sticky issue in his church. The long-time lead pastor of Edwards’ church was his grandfather, who was an immensely popular preacher. His grandfather chose to allow unbelievers to participate in communion if the person lived a generally upstanding life. Edwards disagreed with that position. When he reversed this practice and only allowed confessing believers to take communion, influential people in the community resisted him.
The church eventually fired him for not backing down on this important matter. Peter Beck (a different Peter Beck than my own Dad or Grandad) writes, “If the greatest theologian in American history can be removed from his pulpit for standing on principles, it can happen to anyone. Edwards’ example teaches the powerful lesson that one’s legacy is not built upon popularity, or lack thereof, but on faithfulness to God and a willingness to be used as God sees fit, whether in fame and fortune or anonymity and sacrifice.”
Success in God’s Eyes
This is how you define success: faithful obedience to God! You do not measure success by money, fame, achievement, or any other social status. True success is a matter of your heart attitude towards God. When God grants his covenant love (Hebrew, “hesed,” translated here as “steadfast love”), your response should be a desire to obey him. His grace (translated here as “favor”) works in you to produce obedience. This obedience grants you more grace. Faithfulness to God does not guarantee popularity or worldly success, but it does demand the reward of God’s favor.
By the grace of God, be a person of steadfast love and faithfulness in every area of life. Be a faithful spouse, parent, employer, employee, and church member. Above all, be a faithful follower of Christ. Let your legacy be faithfulness.
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