In my last blog, we discussed the issue of success. How do we know if we are successful or not? What criteria are we to use? We also commented, that whatever our definition of success may be, we still should do our best in whatever we do, for the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31).
We talked about how easy it can be to judge our success on the comparison “game”, where we determine our success by seeing what we are doing as opposed to someone else. For some, they invest time, energy, and hard work, and yet the numbers may not be as high as someone else’s.
Does this make them a failure? I believe that God’s view of success is more toward faithfulness. In other words, are we doing what we are supposed to do? Are we working hard to do what God leads us to do? Faithfulness can be hard to measure in numbers. I believe that there is a point where we must trust God with the results if we are doing what we are supposed to do.
We cannot always explain why this or that church, business, or organization, are at different points of growth when by all accounts, everyone involved is working hard and being faithful. God wants us to be faithful, and we must learn to trust Him with the results. That can be a challenging thing to do, especially with our cultural idea of success and what it looks like.
In Revelation 3:7-13, we are introduced to a church in the city of Philadelphia. This church, along with the body of believers in Smyrna, are the only two out of the seven churches Jesus addresses in Revelation 2-3 in which there is no rebuke by Christ, no call to repent of any sins.
Jesus begins His conversation with the church by telling them that He had given them an open door, most likely in reference to having an opportunity to minister to the people of Philadelphia.
Jesus refers to this church as having “little power.” Though we do not know exactly what Christ meant by this, there are a couple of different things it could mean. They may have been small in size as far as how many folks were a part of the church.
It could mean that they were small when it came to their influence in the city because of how they may have been viewed. There are a couple of other thoughts on what this “little power” phrase means but regardless, Jesus commended them.
He commends them for their faithfulness. They had kept His Word (vs. 8) and had not denied the name of the Lord amid some difficult times (vss. 8-9). They had been faithful to God when persecution had come upon them, whatever it may have been.
The thing I notice is that, to Christ, this church was successful because they were faithful to the Lord. They left the results of what they did in God’s hands, I believe, and worked hard to try to make a difference.
They handled opposition in a God-honoring way, and they put Christ in His rightful place. As we noted before, we should be willing to do our best, work hard and bring glory to God in all we do, but like the church in Philadelphia, doing what God wants us to do, staying true to His Word no matter what is coming against us, and being faithful right where He has put us, that, to me, will get a thumbs up from God.
I just want to encourage us to be faithful to God. Do what He wants us to, be creative when serving Him, share the message of Jesus when we can, reach out to others, glorify Him in all we do, and leave the results and future to Him. To me, that is success.