Happiness and the Biblical Definition of Success – by Hugh Whelchel
I once heard someone say, “I’ll be happy when…fill in the blank.”
He went on to say, “Whatever you put in the blank is your definition of success.”
In our culture, happiness is not only dependent upon external experiences – it is also tied to future success. Even though there have been countless studies proving success does not bring happiness, far too many, including Christians, still cling to this solution.
We have combined an unbiblical definition of happiness with an unbiblical definition of success.
God wants us to be successful and happy, but we must define these terms from a biblical perspective.
Culture tells us two great lies about success: you can be whatever you want to be, and you can be the best in the world. These lies are based on the premise that we all are created equal. While we are all certainly equal under the law (as least in our country), equal in God’s eyes, and in many other areas, we are not created equal where our abilities are concerned.
Not everyone can grow up to be president or a brain surgeon. Yet, if you say this in many circles you will be quickly chastised and informed that we all have the same potential if we just try hard enough.
This only perpetuates the myth that people can help themselves if they just try hard enough.
Jesus told us something different 2,000 years ago in the parable of the talents. He said,
To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability.
Biblical success is faithfully using all gifts, talents, and opportunities God has given us for the furtherance of His kingdom here on earth. This work should bring us both joy and peace of mind knowing we have done our best, through the power of Christ working though us, to accomplish what he has called us to do in order to make a difference in our world.
God wants all of his children to be successful by living up to their potential. As Ken Boa writes, “God has entrusted us with certain resources, gifts and abilities. Our responsibility is to live by that trust by managing these things well, according to his design and desire.”
Dear God, Thank you entrusting me with the talents you have given me. Please remind me daily to be Your steward of these gifts. Let my goal be to bring You glory and use them to further Your kingdom. Amen.
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Hugh Whelchel is Executive Director of the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics (www.tifwe.org) and author of How Then Should We Work?: Rediscovering the Biblical Doctrine of Work.
CLS is working with the Institue for Faith, Work & Economics (IFWE) to provide thoughtful and inspiring devotionals to CLS members. IFWE is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) Christian research organization committed to promoting biblical and economic principles that help individuals find fulfillment in their work and contribute to a free and flourishing society.
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