The Bare Soul
July 8, 2012
Genesis 39:2 - The LORD was with Joseph, so he became a successful man. And he was in the house of his master, the Egyptian.
Recently, a fellow was sharing with me how after coming to Christ, his entire view of success was altered. It is such a joy to witness someone, who only weeks earlier was living for themselves, now begin to understand the source of true life. No longer was he choosing to pursue monetary gain by driving the most expensive automobile or living in the most lavish house. God had taken this individual and stripped him down to a place of humility, revealing to him what success looked like to the Almighty. There was a gleam in his eyes and light where there was once darkness. This fellow had started down the road of life instead of winding his way down the path of destruction. He saw the importance of succeeding according to God's wisdom rather than that of man's. He had only glimpsed what the Lord had in store for him on his new journey. However, he was convinced now that true success did not depend upon his circumstances. He was beginning to see with new eyes regarding what it meant to be God's winner.
Winning at life will never mean having or planning for more, whatever that might be. We know from the story of Joseph how the Lord made this young man successful---not necessarily for what he did, but for whose he was. Scripture relates in several instances how Joseph was successful in all that he put his hand to. Does this mean his success was determinant on certain talents and gifts he possessed? Not at all. God may or may not use natural inclinations. However, if He does they will first be sanctified through His purifying fires. In other words, He will not tie success to a man or a woman's gifts without first sanctifying both for His glory. From our lead verse, we can authoritatively state that God did not grant success to Joseph because of his talents or gifts, but He gave him success because God was with him. This principle points out that success, in the case of Joseph and any other, is relationally-bound not circumstantially dependent. What mattered to God was that Joseph trusted in Him, so therefore God prospered Joseph in all he put his hand to (Genesis 39:21). However, over time and through a trusted relationship between the Lord and Joseph, God elevated Joseph's success from a private matter of relationship to the public arena of circumstantial greatness. God confirmed His relationship through this Hebrew slave who continued to submit himself to harsh, unjust treatment. Joseph knew it was not his place to create success. He only knew he must remain faithful to the Lord.
So many of us get this wrong when we first start walking with God. We believe if we are good at making money before knowing Christ, we should do the same for the Kingdom once we get saved. Many a person has set a snare for themselves with this logic. If a spirit of competition and lustful craving for success has been the thrust of a man or woman's life before Christ, how can this be used for God's purposes? This would be like the U.S. Government hiring the Mafia to head the Department of Justice. No matter how good the intent, there is no doubt justice would not be served in the manner it should. If nothing else, the appearances would be wrong. It is the same way with natural talents that may have given us success in the world which are not first surrendered to God for His bidding. Whether He desires to resurrect those gifts or inclinations will be according to His will. Possibly, if someone has made millions in secular pursuits, the Lord would require them to give it away and instead join the foreign mission field. One might say, "What a waste of talent!" That would be the one who does not understand the importance of success through relationship rather than situational success that is so common to us before we came to Christ.
The main thing we can desire in this lifetime is to be successful in God's eyes. Whether we are a prisoner as Joseph, yet at the same time successful in God's mind, will determine our perspective on what it means to win in life. If we are circumstantially inclined to success as Christians, then we will judge ourselves and others by what we have done for the Kingdom. However, if we are rightly related to Jesus, success will take on a whole new meaning. It will be full of expectation regarding not necessarily what God will do through us, but how we will be amazed at what happens to ourselves and others through our intimate relationship with Him. Through our surrendered relationship, God will engineer circumstances in our lives that others will equate as success. However, what is important for us is to see God's success in our hearts as we live for Him. To one day hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant," will be the greatest success that any of us will ever know in this lifetime or the one to come.
Heavenly Father, give us eyes to see today what You regard as success in each of our lives. Allow us to become so intimate with You that You prosper everything we touch as a product of our relationship with You. May we know that winning in life is finishing the course with You not for You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Your Barefoot Servant,
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