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October 18, 1996

Success Warning

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[D]o not let [the wicked’s] plans succeed, or they will become proud. PSALM 140:8
We live in a day and age of success. Chances are, you are working right now in a competitive environment, trying to get ahead, to make your goals, to close a deal, or to earn another stripe or promotion.
Every company—from the large multinational corporation to the start-up in the garage down the street—faces intense pressure to succeed. Regardless of the setting, everyone is working toward success—to be bigger, faster, better. It is an alluring goal, to be sure.
Does this mean that we should not be success-oriented? Quite the contrary. Jesus succeeded perfectly at everything He came to earth to accomplish. We need to know what our calling is and work toward achieving it. But although we need to design our lives for success, we also need to guard against the downsides of success: self-sufficiency and self-indulgence.
The Lord warned the children of Israel that when they had taken the Promised Land, built their homes, had their families, and eaten from the fat of the land, they would forget the Lord their God if they weren’t careful. And that’s exactly what happened.
This process was not limited to the Israelites. It’s a hazard for us, as well. When times are good, we tend to drift away from God and get distracted. We can become off-balance, pursuing our own fulfillment over the call of God in our lives. We might start thinking we don’t need God anymore. We can do it on our own. We’ll be fine by ourselves.
Is your pursuit of success causing you to lose your focus on Jesus? Has your achievement of success made you a little bit too comfortable with the status quo in your spiritual life? Perhaps it is time to revisit the Old Testament and see what happened to the Israelites when they forgot about God. Any way you look at it, it’s not a pretty picture.

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