Success - A Sign or a Symptom?

Then they took what Micah had made, and his priest, and went on to Laish, against a peaceful and unsuspecting people. They attacked them with the sword and burned down their city. (Judges 18:27)

The Danites were probably pretty proud of themselves. They had just wiped out a city, something any self-respecting army would be proud of. The problem is, Laish wasn't on the list of cities God wanted conquered. It was outside the territory God had given them as their inheritance – a territory, by the way, they had NOT conquered since the inhabitants were a little too war-like, a little too strong. Laish was inhabited by peaceful and, as scripture says, "unsuspecting" people. These folks weren't spoiling for a fight like the Canaanites. And if the Danites were feeling sanctimonious and self-righteous about what they'd just done, they were overlooking the fact that God had commanded them to destroy cities because of their idolatry. And the Danites, themselves, were guilty of that very sin!

But they were successful. They had conquered Laish. They were prospering! Surely they had God's blessing, right?

How many times do we equate earthly success with heavenly blessing? You and I, in our finite minds, convince ourselves that if everything is going right for us, then we must be doing what God wants us to do. And that could just possibly be right. Or it could mean that we're leading such uncommitted lives that the devil is willing to leave us alone. After all, if we're not stirring up things for Jesus, we're not causing Satan any problems at all, so he lets us have a little peace. On the other hand, if God wants something to succeed, He opens every door, so we see some people thriving in the success God has given them.

So how do we tell the difference? First, we take a look at our own lives, not the lives of others. God never does the same thing twice in exactly the same way. He treats each individual and each situation uniquely. How He will handle you in a given set of circumstances is completely different than how He will handle me. Second, we look at what we’re doing overall – are we edifying believers? Are we spreading the good news about Jesus? Are we teaching others, both by example and with our words, how to live committed, exciting lives for Jesus? Or are we just “going with the flow”, doing only what we have to for the kingdom to “get by”, and focusing instead on our worldly successes?

When you see success - or the lack of it - in your own life, examine yourself. Are you doing what you truly believe God would have you be doing? Don't ask your best friend. Talk to God about it. Are you within His will for your life? Are you listening only to Him and to His word? If so, then see your success - or lack of it - for what it really is... a visible part of God's will for your life at that moment. And like Paul, learn to be content, no matter what your circumstances.


…I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11b-13

From Newsong Ministries

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This Day's Devotional.
Used with Permission.