Living a Life of Success
Establishing Priorities in Life
“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”
It is easy to become distracted by the superficial and unimportant in life. We get so caught up in the day-to-day activities and priorities that we lose sight of the significance. The greatest tragedy of life is not failure but success in the unimportant. At the end of life, life is not measured by our financial success, career attainments, or achievements. People will not remember the size of our home, the success of our business, or the accomplishments we have attained. What people will remember will be our relationship with God and people. A successful life has eternal consequences and only comes through a right relationship with God. It is to allow God to control our lives so that he defines our lives and his kingdom determines our priorities.
Developing a right relationship with God begins with self-denial. Jesus uses graphic language to emphasize the priority and nature of a life with him. We need to take up our cross and follow him. During the time of Jesus, the cross was a symbol of death. The imagery of death serves to highlight the whole reality of self-denial. To deny oneself puts God and his kingdom priorities at the center of everything we do. It is to abandon a life driven by our own pride and self-centered pursuits and to seek to manifest God’s sovereign rule in all facets of life. Instead of pursuing our goals and agenda in life, we strive to follow God’s plan.
In verse 26, Christ points to the right priorities we are to establish. He moves from the temporal and physical realm to the eternal and spiritual plain. In the physical world, everything is defined by the present. Success is measured by what we attain: wealth, prosperity, career advancement, recognition of men, etc.). But all these things have no eternal value apart from Christ. They are meaningless at the end of life, for these things have no value in the grave. However, Jesus moves us from the physical to the spiritual. Spiritual life begins with surrendering our whole life to Christ in the present. It is to seek him and his righteousness in all aspects of life. It is to align our life and priorities with his priorities. Tragically, too many people verbally affirm their faith, but that faith does not completely transform them. It is a verbal faith but not a transformative faith. This faith is insufficient. Christ warns of the inadequacy of verbal faith when he warns, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter” (Matthew 7:21). Genuine faith that gains eternal rewards is grounded in a life of complete surrender and obedience to Christ. It is to be driven by God’s agenda for our life that is revealed in his word. It is becoming involved in his kingdom program, establishing His sovereign rule in the universe. To participate in his kingdom work begins by seeking to manifest God’s sovereign rule in all areas of our life and then calling people to surrender to His kingdom.
Christ confronts us with a life-changing question: Are we living according to our agenda? When we do so, it ends in emptiness and a wasted life. Or are we living in complete and daily surrender to Christ and his sovereign rule? This results in a life that has eternal results and rewards. These questions are not just ones we ask once but it is to be the questions we ask ourselves every day. Every morning, we must reset our priorities to ensure they are spiritual and eternal rather than temporal and physical. How are you living your life today? The greatest tragedy I life is not the life of failure, but the one who has been successful in the wrong things.