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What does success look like?

One of the on-going questions we have been looking at is “what does success look like?” As we have journeyed through Genesis we have seen many examples of people trying to get their own way. Sometimes they get what they want like Lot’s daughters were “successful” in getting pregnant by getting their dad drunk and having incest with him. Yet long term the descendants of Lot’s Daughters were the Moabites and the Amanites, warring tribes with Israel, a history of conflict and bloodshed (Joshua 3:29 and 2 Samuel 8.2). Jacob conned his dad into receiving his brothers blessing, but ended up all alone and on the run with his brother trying to kill him. He may have won in his ongoing rivalry with his brother, Esau, but it cost him everything. It was a hollow and empty victory. Laban ended up successful in getting both of his daughters married off, but ends up all alone, separated from his children and his grandchildren and without his livilhood -his flocks. His daughter Rachel steals his idols, a picture of without family, without money and without God/faith. We will all change the world, we will all make history, but the question is are we changing things for the better or worse? Do our actions coincide with the plan and call of God? Too often we fall foul of the belief that we know better than God of how things work out. We believe we know better than God of how success looks. Yet obedience to God’s purposes is ultimately best for us and for everyone else too, in some circumstances it takes trust to believe that when the Kingdom of God advances everyone benefits. The consequences of our sin is that although some people may benefit short term, often other people end up suffering from the result of our sinful choices, sometimes these are tragically far-reaching, with perpetual negative cycles going on for generations upon generations. We need to ask ourselves what are the consequences on other people of us getting our own way? Who pays the cost for our success? Our choices have consequences -whether we see them or not. For example: In our world we can be successful by getting lots of cheap stuff, but the real price is paid by the workers exploited in sweatshops. Are we walking in step with God whose plans and purposes are loving, good and gracious… or going our own way sowing seeds of wilfulness, rebellion and disobedience to his plan of love? We all have legacies -but are they marked by making the world a better or worse place? Will we hear the words “well done good and faithful servant” or “why do you call me Lord, Lord, and yet do not do what I say?” We might get our own way and seem successful, we may appear to have everything and yet in fact have nothing. Let’s choose a different type of success that has nothing to do with getting our own way but instead is the fruitfulness of obedience with the consequences of the fruit of the Kingdom.

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