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Should Christians Strive For Success on Earth?
There are conflicting arguments as to whether those of the Christian faith should strive to succeed in today’s world. Should Christians seek to acquire material wealth, positions of authority or other things that are highly valued in the world or should they just endure until the return of the Lord?
It is interesting to note that throughout the Bible men of wealth are valued and displayed. These people – who inherited, acquired or gained wealth or position – include Abraham, David, Solomon, Job, Ruth, and Esther and others. It appears that they are living according to God’s will as stated in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. .”
You may be surprised to learn that a strategy for success is identified in the Bible and that it is practiced by people inside and outside the Christian community. It involves making lasting changes in your thoughts and actions to achieve your true destiny.
Making lasting changes in the way we behave is one of life’s greatest challenges. And, because we are creatures of habit, the longer we operate in a certain mode the harder it is to switch to something new. Consider the challenge of the early disciples to change the patterns of belief and actions of the people of their time. Changing beliefs tied to centuries-old traditions may seem like an insurmountable task, but it is succeeding as evidenced by the proliferation of the Church today. Yes, there were many who witnessed miracles and were greatly converted and, in later times, many were commanded by the law to adopt the Christian faith. But then and now those who were not witnesses of God’s miraculous works continued, nor were they commanded to adopt faith, but they became believers. How does this kind of change happen?
We are told in the sixth chapter of John that faith is a gift from God and so we know that people believe by this means. But the early Christians were also given specific instructions on how to change their lives after they became believers. In Romans 12:2, the Apostle Paul taught the early Christians who wanted to lead a new and different life to “… be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” The Apostle Paul knew very well that the first step to changing our actions begins with the mind. He went on to say that a renewed mind enables a person to try and agree with God’s perfect will.
For many, distractions, confusion, procrastination, insecurity and/or lack of focus are the main obstacles that prevent us from living the good life God intended for us, as Jeremiah 29 says: 11, Proverbs 10:22, Psalm 128:2 and others. They are the detractors of fate that prevent us from setting goals and taking the necessary steps to achieve them. What many fail to realize is that we have a powerful transformational tool to overcome these detractors. This powerful weapon, which if properly studied and used can defeat everything that stands between us and our God-given destiny, is the mind. It is also the same instrument of change that Paul taught the first Christian followers to use to change their lives.
The mind is a powerful force by which the most difficult tasks can be accomplished and the greatest obstacles overcome.
So how do you effectively use your mind to change your life and be successful in achieving your goals? Using the mind to create life-changing change is a four-part strategy involving the spoken word, vision, belief and action.
One part of the transformational change strategy involves the power of words to change outcomes. The first example of the power of the spoken word can be seen from creation itself. God spoke to the earth in Genesis 1. In John 4, Jesus healed a sick child by speaking. These are examples of power of the Word of God. But what about His creatures – you and me? In John 15:7 and Mark 11:23, Jesus answered this question when he said that whatever we ask or say will be revealed, if we believe that it is. This is power of man’s word coupled with faith. This is confirmed in Mark 11:24 when He declared, “Therefore, I say to you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
The second part of the transformation strategy involves the power of vision. Proverbs 29:18 tells us that people without vision will die. We need a dream or a goal to strive for. We need something to keep us going, but above all we need a specific vision to achieve a specific goal. In the Bible, God gave Moses a description of the Promised Land; a description of the New Jerusalem is given to John in the Book of Revelation. God gave them a picture to put in their minds, to help focus their thoughts and actions on the desired future. Likewise, it is important for us to have a clear picture in our minds of the goals we are trying to achieve. Having a clear mental picture helps to crystallize our thoughts and strengthen our statements. It also supports the next part of the strategy with a strong belief in the realization of your goals.
The third part of the change strategy is to have a strong belief, conviction or belief. Faith is defined in Hebrews 11:1 as “being sure of what we hope for and being sure of what we do not see.” There are some who argue that this contradicts the need for the power of vision; however they are actually together. A vision of your desire firmly planted in your mind is different from the act of physically seeing that desire. In a change strategy, one precedes the other. You can see your desire in your mind’s eye – through faith – before it happens and appears with your physical eyes. Jesus confirmed this in Mark 9:23 when he told us that all things are possible for those who believe.
The fourth part of the transformation strategy is action. James 2:24 informs us that we are justified not only by our faith but by our works. Later in verse 26 we are commanded to act in support of our faith, for faith without action is dead. Action, even a small step towards achieving your goal, sets the ball in motion for success. In the Bible, God often causes people to take some kind of action before God intervenes. For example, the people had to march around the walls of Jericho for seven days before the walls fell; the poor woman had to collect jars before they were filled with oil; Gideon’s small army must sound the trumpet before the enemy’s army is defeated.
There are many variations of this four-part change strategy advocated by people from different cultural and religious backgrounds. Its success has been demonstrated many times. For those who are in the Christian faith it is encouraging to know that it is supported by the Living Word and that we should not be afraid or feel guilty to use it in seeking God’s will for our prosperity. The point to remember is its Biblical foundation and application. Don’t be afraid to claim and use God’s Word in your life.
So should Christians strive for success? Should they follow the God-given strategy to do that? The answer is yes yea!
Success has many meanings. As detailed in Habakkuk 2, it is your motivation to have it, your path to achieving it and your application of it that reveals the character of your heart. Continue with your dreams of prosperity and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, “Nothing is impossible with God.”
Copyright 2008. Gillian Williams McClean, SayingsofSuccess.com
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