But They Are Not What You Think They Are
When you think of the attributes of successful people, what do you think of? Do you think of someone who is a winner-take-all negotiator? Or someone who ruthlessly pursues what will enhance their life? Or someone who desires to win at all costs?
While those characteristics may be the world’s standards for success, God has a very different standard. God doesn’t value a kind of success where you are the only one to win. God values a kind of success where you help others win. Because when others win, you win as well.
Psalm 41:1 (ESV) says
Blessed is the one who considers the poor!
In the day of trouble the Lord delivers him.
To be truly successful, here are three characteristics from Psalm 112:4 and Psalm 116:5 you need to develop in yourself.
Be gracious with those around you. Be kind to those you come into contact with. Because you aren’t the only one who notices what you do.
People tend to love their friends and hate their enemies. But to be children of God, Jesus said that you should love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. God does things that benefit all people, because everyone benefits from the sun and from the rain—both the good and the bad alike. So God wants the way that you treat all people to be like the way He treats all people. (Matthew 5:43-48)
God is gracious (Psalm 86:15; Psalm 111:4; Psalm 145:8). And He wants you to be gracious too. Because He wants you to be successful in His eyes.
Be merciful to those around you. Be compassionate to those you come into contact with. Because you aren’t the only one who notices what you do.
Jesus told a story of an unmerciful servant (Matthew 18:21-35). A king wanted to settle accounts with his servants, so he called them to settle up.
He found that one of his servants owed him the equivalent of 200,000 years of a servant’s annual salary. He demanded that everything he owned would be liquidated in order to pay the debt, including his wife and children. The servant begged him for more time to pay back the debt. At this, the king took pity on him, forgave the debt and allowed him to go free.
When this servant left the king’s presence, he found a fellow servant who owed him the equivalent of a day’s pay. He grabbed him and told him he had to pay him back the money. His fellow servant begged him for more time to pay back the debt. At this, he had the fellow servant locked up in prison until he could pay it all back.
Other servants saw what happened and went and told the king. The king sent for the servant and rebuked him for treating his fellow servant that way, when he had just been forgiven that huge debt. The king was so livid with him that he had him be tortured until he could pay back his enormous debt.
God is merciful, and He wants you to be merciful too (Luke 6:36). Because He wants you to be successful in His eyes.
Do the right thing for those around you. Treat people around you the right way. Because you aren’t the only one who notices what you do.
Jesus said that on that great Judgment Day, everyone will be brought before Him to be judged—as either “sheep” or “goats” (Matthew 25:31-46).
He will bless the sheep with entrance to God’s kingdom because they gave Him food when He was hungry, gave Him drink when He was thirsty, welcomed Him when He was a stranger, clothed Him when He was naked, and visited Him when He was sick and in prison. On that Judgment Day, the righteous sheep will ask Him when they saw Him in those conditions and did those things for Him. Then Jesus will answer them by saying that whenever they did these things to someone the rest of the world forgot, they did it for Him.
He will curse the goats with entrance into the everlasting fire—prepared for Satan and his demons—because they didn’t give Him food when He was hungry, didn’t give Him drink when He was thirsty, didn’t welcome Him when He was a stranger, didn’t clothe Him when He was naked, and didn’t visit Him when He was sick or in prison. On that Judgment Day, the goats will ask when they saw Him in those conditions and didn’t minister to Him. Then Jesus will answer them by saying that whenever they didn’t do these things to someone the rest of the world forgot, they didn’t do it for Him.
God is righteous (Psalm 72:2; 98:9; 103:6; 119:137; 129:4; 145:17), and He wants you to be righteous too (Psalm 106:3; 112:9). Because He wants you to be successful in His eyes.
Whatever standard you use for others, God will use that same standard for you (Matthew 7:2; Mark 4:24; Luke 6:38). What goes around will come around. God says it will go well with you if you do the right thing (Genesis 4:7). So treat other people the way you would want to be treated (Matthew 7:12). So you can be successful in God’s eyes.
Even when you feel like what you’re doing for others could have no possible benefit to you, God still rewards you based on what you do (Ecclesiastes 11:1). It may not be in the way you expect or in a time frame you expect, but God still notices and keeps track of what you do. And He is the one who will be the final judge.