Measure of Success

Genesis 39:2

“The Lord was with Joseph, so he became a successful man.”

This is an unusually insightful story for today in our ‘name it and claim it’ spiritual climate. Joseph was successful [an alternate word can be prosperous]. He worked hard with integrity in all he did. It is so easy to see that the Lord was with Joseph and miss the fact that Joseph made it possible for God to operate freely in his life. Materially Joseph was prosperous and successful but it started with his spiritual life.

Becoming successful in area of life can be quicksand for the unwary. One of the take-away lessons of Joseph’s life is being successful is not a guarantee that all will be pleasant and nice. For Joseph, it started when his brothers at first wanted to kill him but instead sold him into slavery. By the world’s standards, he had ample grounds for being revengeful and rebellious. But instead, he rose above the conditions he found himself in [and they were all unjust] and maintained his integrity before God. Maybe he knew that proverb that says: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.” [Proverbs 16:18 NASB]

Key word            successful

definitions:   ● turning out well: having the intended result

● popular: popular and making a lot of money

● record of significant achievements:

● having achieved much, especially wealth, fame, or power

synonyms:   ● acknowledged, ahead of, influential; authoritative

antonyms:   ● unsuccessful, failure, loss


Something to Ponder:

Just because we are spiritually successful; that is, we live and act as Christ in us acts, does not exempt us from temptation. Paul wrote to the church gathered at Corinth: Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.” [1CO 10:12 NASB] Be careful to measure success by God’s standard and not by the world’s.

Having said that, consider the charge given to Joshua by God Himself:  “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you maybe careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you willhave success.[Joshua 1:8 NASB] Our success, as measured by God, is directly proportional to the time and effort we put into internalizing His standards for living.

So what are the disadvantage[s] of not following God’s protocol? 

Just because it appears that God “is on our side” seeing as things are going so well, should not be an occasion for us to let down our guard. Satan will always look for ways to strip us of our integrity. When bad things happen, allowing Satan to play the “blame game” on our minds will cause us to become victims because he will convince us we have lost our entitlements. God does not care about our entitlements but does care about our obedience regardless of our circumstances.

There are definite Advantages and Benefits:

There is a saying that goes like this: “The real test of a man’s character is what he is like when no one is around.” Joseph was obedient to what he knew God expected of him even when no one was around to know. He consistently lived this way as a slave and as a prisoner. Jesus, by His very nature, was entitled to more than we will ever comprehend but He turned that all over to His Father who in turn was able to use Him to restore you and I.

There is another benefit we can learn. Potiphar’s wife was persistent. She tried to entice Joseph not just once but ‘day after day.’ Joseph was not a superman. He like all of us had his up days and down days. There were days when he felt strong and days when he felt worn down. It is the temptations that occur day after day that will be the toughest battles. Alcoholics know this well and hence learn to live one day at a time. Joseph lived one day at a time and that was his secret to success with God. Sometimes success means running for your life!

Here are THREE Applications to consider:

A1:      We cannot see our future and God’s plans for us now. Are you a character like “Joseph” and live and work in obedience as God expects of you?

A2:      No matter what we have lost and how bad the conditions we find ourselves, are you maintaining your success before God by being obedient even when nobody is around.

A3:      Real success is measured by what Jesus taught: “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” How are you doing in advancing His kingdom by doing His will when nobody knows but our Father?

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