What Does the Bible Really Say About Success?

What Does the Bible Really Say About Success?

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Success is often equated with the idea of “having it all,” but what does that really mean? As the Bible tells us that Christians “are not of the world,” and as such, Scripture gives a very different definition of success than the world.

Does the Bible encourage us to pursue success?

Without naming names, there are a number of well-known pastors and religious teachers, particularly televangelists, who promote the idea that God wants us to be successful in life. They promote the so-called “prosperity gospel” that advocates health, wealth, and happiness.

Some prosperity preachers will say God did not intend for us to be poor or struggling to survive but rather wants us to be successful. Of course, that would depend on how one defines “successful.”

Nonetheless, Jesus clearly taught the opposite. Jesus said:

“Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

– Luke 12:33-4

Jesus taught not to pursue the accumulation of wealth as one’s life goal.

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

– Matthew 6:24

The other disciples also taught likewise.

“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he [Jesus] has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.'”

–Hebrews 13:5

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”

– 1 Timothy 6:10

Jesus said that the wealthy, who only focus on money in the accumulation of riches in this world, probably will not be accepted into heaven in the afterlife.

“And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”

– Matthew 19:23-24

Avoiding a worldly mindset

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

– Romans 12:2

We live in a world that is driven by money. Especially in the United States, we live in a capitalist economy that must promote materialism and consumerism to survive, as it is the means by which money circulates to all classes of people.

But the Bible teaches the opposite of materialism. Instead, it teaches a focus on God first, loving your fellow human being as yourself, being humble, giving, and helping those in need.

“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.”

– 1 Timothy 6:17-19

What the Bible defines as a real success

“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”

–Proverbs 16:3

Success starts with a dedication to God. Living your life with a focus on doing God’s will.

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”

–James 4:10

Humble yourself to the Lord first, and to others second.

Jesus said of the afterlife:

“But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.”

– Matthew 19:30

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

– Matthew 5:5

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