What is real victory/success?
Is God still first in our lives or is he competing with our dreams?
How can we tell?
Victory is defined as defeating an enemy or overcoming difficulty/struggle. Success is defined by many as having achieved wealth and/or fame. In today's technology-driven world we see that many more people have achieved "success," almost overnight, by living a scandalous lifestyle. Though we don't know them, we can see by some of their behavior that they believe that have achieved success. They were victorious against the world that they probably felt owed them such success.
Unfortunately, many believers also fall into a sort of obsession for achieving success. They want the "full blessing" that God has promised for his children. They believe God wants them to be successful in their finances and therefore, feel justified in their pursuit.
Don't get me wrong, I don't believe there is absolutely anything wrong with being successful or wealthy. God knows our hearts. But, do WE?
Remember, we cannot serve money AND God (Matthew 6:24) and God is a jealous God who is worthy of ALL of our adoration and worship. Does He have it? Are we compromising? Paul would disagree with a lot of today's believers' thoughts on prosperity. He said, "...for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little....Even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty." -Philippians 4:12 &14
Our hearts can be deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9) and lead us in the wrong direction, all the while feeling justified and "led by the Spirit." Paul was victorious, through Christ, though not by the world's standard. He ran his race and he knew it. But this same Paul who wrote such wise words from a prison cell, is the same Paul who once thought he was doing the right thing in persecuting Christians. He truly believed he had the right, until he had his own encounter with the Lord Himself on the road to Damascus. How suddenly things can change. How wrong we can be sometimes when we concentrate on the wrong things and refuse to see the Truth set before us. We twist Scripture to see what we want to see. Our "wisdom" and goals compete with God and we disguise them at times as blessings or rights owed to us.
What did our Savior do when He walked the earth? He obeyed His Father, bringing Him glory by doing so. He was victorious at Calvary, but again, not by the world's standard. There He was, nailed to a cross, seemingly defeated. Still, knowing His purpose, Christ obeyed and persevered. Are we here to be victorious and successful by the world's standard, or God's?
Did you get an education and/or achieve wealth? Good. Use your resources to help those in need and spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Do you have a talent or gift? (We all do.) Good. Use it for God's glory and don't worry if it's something less glamorous than others'.
Are you a homemaker? Good. You are important and can be used by God. Don't ever feel inferior to anyone climbing the corporate ladder. Open your home, small or big, and host bible studies.
Are you a sinner? We all are. God can still use you. Repent and follow Him. Be a testimony of His grace and teach others of His goodness and mercy.
We all have a way of reaching others. Let's not be caught up in our own desires and dreams, so much, that we put the Kingdom second to us. There are greater things to be concerned with.
The guest pastor at our church, just this past weekend, told us about a lovely blind lady who was ready to go to Heaven, in her own mind. God told her He had a plan for her and wasn't taking her yet. She was blind and didn't feel equipped to do anything for the Kingdom. Do you know what this lady did? She took the next few years of her life and dedicated herself to dialing every single number on her phone book (printed in braille) and led about 3,000 people to Christ! What excuse have WE to not serve Him? None.
No excuses. No idols. Victory over the enemy isn't being wealthy or feeling entitled to any success because we are children of God. Victory is seeking justice, loving mercy, walking humbly with our God (Micah 6:8), and living in gratitude for what was done for us (not in pride for what we've done), that we couldn't do for ourselves: redemption.
Jesus was victorious and we, through Him. That's the victory that matters most.
Don't look to others or THEIR standards; not even your own. Your audience is One and One alone. We each have our race to run. Some will be wealthy and some will not. Those that are not, are not less favored by God, or lazy, and they don't necessarily lack the drive. If we are seeking God's Kingdom above all else, the way Jesus advised, we will have all we need (Matthew 6:33). Keep putting God first. YOU are second.
I am not saying we must not follow our dreams. I'm saying we need to consider what God will have us do and put HIS will above ours. His ways are higher. Seek to exalt Him in all you do. As always, we should examine our motives to rule out any selfish ambitions that put US in control of our destiny instead of God.
Mark 10:25 says, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”
1 Timothy 6:9-10 says, "But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith..."
1 Timothy 6:17-18 says, "Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others."
Be blessed. You're already victorious through Christ, our Lord. If the word (victory) has been redefined in this world, remember; keep your eyes on things above, not things on earth (Colossians 3:2). The victory belongs to God and it's already done.