“BETTER KIND OF SUCCESS”                               By Pastor YAU

Ephesians 4:1-3                                                           November 12, 2006.

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)   Short but successful: On May 2, 2003, the high school Melissa Brannon used to attend dedicated their softball field in her honor. At the ceremony to mark the opening of the Melissa Brannon Memorial Softball Field, a stone marker was unveiled to remind future generations of the girl who wore number 11. On that marker is etched: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Eph. 4:2) ---a verse Melissa had marked in her Bible.

2)   Different kind of success: So often in everyday life, words like humble, patient, gentle and love don’t seem to belong, especially when it comes to competition. Instead, words like pride, tough, arrogance and indifference are seen everywhere as parts of being successful and strong at the expense of others. In this world which promotes success and winning regardless of how you make it, Christian values and attitude have become victims or sacrifices in everyday life. This is not a new failure of the modern day society but part of human nature at least from the days of the Apostle Paul.

 

 THE BIBLE AND SUCCESS: Success is a big theme in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.

1)    Our God is a successful God: Through out the whole Bible, God is portrayed as a God of success in all aspects in history. He was successful in creation without any interference from anyone or anywhere. He was successful in defending His people, Israel, in His plan of exodus from Egypt and the establishment of a nation. He was also very successful in sending His Son, Jesus, to begin His plan of salvation for all mankind in the world. God is certainly successful in establishing the church as the means of carrying the gospel to the uttermost parts of the world. With all the aspects of God’s success, we can be sure that Christian faith will prevail for the millenniums to come if the Lord delays his return.

2)    Jesus is a successful Lord: Beginning from His obedience to the Father’s plan of saving the souls of men in coming to this world in the form of a man to His daily walk with His Father in ministry on earth, from his uncompromised obedience to die on the cross to his commission of his disciples, Jesus, our Lord is certainly a great example of success in all aspects. His success grows in the past 2,000 years of history even the world adopts a calendar with the beginning of His birth. The success of the Lord Jesus even extends to the hundreds of millions of hearts of those who not just believe in Him but surrender their lives to His lordship. Never in history has anyone claimed such a universal loyalty.

3)    The Church is a great success:  From the handful disciples in that upper room with their doors closed after the crucifixion of their Lord to the hundreds of millions of faithful follower of Jesus Christ meeting in millions of churches with their doors wide open every week, Christian movement has been phenomenal in every part of the world even in the deepest corner inside the iron curtains and the most remote part on earth. Everyday thousands of souls were saved, churches were started, men and women were called to give up their personal ambitions to bring the gospel message to the lost people. The church of Jesus Christ is certainly successful in carrying out the Great Commission.

4)    Many successful servants: Throughout the history of the Christian church, countless faithful Christians were successful in self giving, dedication, obedience and faithful in serving the Lord and their world in all parts of the world. These successful servants built churches and schools, started benevolent entities, served the poor and the needy, healed the sick and the hurt, helped the most vulnerable and the fatherless. In this church, many fore fathers and mothers in the early years worked, gave, helped and sacrificed to build and to grow so we have our church as it is today. Today, we continue to have humble servants serving our church diligently and sacrificially in all aspects of the church year after year to make this church a growing church.

 

WORTHY SUCCESS:  Everyone wants to be successful in something. While being successful is not bad, it is important to be successful in the right thing worthy of all your efforts. To the early Christians, Paul gave a list of spiritual attitudes, not worldly matters, as goals for our pursuit:

1)    Be completely humble: Humble or humility is a heavenly quality all of the followers of Jesus Christ should pursue. Our Lord set a great example in humbling himself to take on the form of a servant in order to save the souls of all men. (Phil. 2:7-8) Jesus also encouraged us to learn from His example when He said, “Take my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart.” (Matt. 11:29) True humility is not when you have little or nothing to be proud of but when you have so much and yet you choose to be humble on the inside. Humility is one of the strongest magnet powers to make friends and serve people. To place yourself below others so you be close to them to hold them up.

2)    Be completely patient: Patience is something America doesn’t have, neither the Americans, young and old alike. Being patient means be slow to jump into conclusion, be considerate to condition you don’t know nor understand, take a step backward and give the other side time and liberty to make decision and be slow to get angry when things don’t go your way. If God has little patience like we have, none of us would be able to stand before Him. Often times we are not patient with God in the way He moves things. If we have little more patience with God, our family, people around us, allow things to take their course, life will be much easier for everyone including you.

3)    Be Completely gentle: Gentle is closely related to humility as in the heart of Jesus mentioned above. Humility is the inner attitude while gentleness is the outward demonstration of that humble heart. Be gentle when we talk, be gentle when we treat others, be gentle when others do not agree with you and be gentle when you make judgment on things you don’t know much about. The opposite of being gentle is being hash and there are so much hash words and acts all around in today’s world. The virtue of gentleness has long been lost in a world which equates it as being wimpy. Christians need to promote gentleness when we deal with people at home, at work, in school and at church. Ask the Lord to give you this great quality.

4)    Be complete in bearing: Everybody understands the importance of love in Christian living. The phrase I want to draw your attention to is “bearing with one another.” In our everyday life, no matter how much we think we love others, there are times we can offend them, hurt their feelings, unable to understand them and therefore fracture the relationship and things like these may happen the other way round. When things like these happen, Paul said, we need to bear these people in love. “Bear” here means to uphold, to support, to forgive and to be patient to that person with love. You may not like his attitude, the words he used or the things he has done, but the importance is the “person” so you need to bear with him.

WHY ARE THEY BETTER?

1)    They are divine: God, through His messenger, has given us rules of life in regard of treating each other. God sees it as very important so He inspired Paul to put them in the Bible, His words. Although we respect the good will and wisdom of great men, but no man can give us advice better than that of God. If you want to follow the best advice, follow God’s. God says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts neither are your ways my ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts (higher) than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

2)    They focus on people: Most of the success man may achieve are things of the world but God asks us of a better kind of success that is people oriented. No one can argue that people are lot more important than things. The philosophy in this world has twisted values around, putting things before people and that is why there are so many problems in between of people. God created all things for the good of people not the other way round. When we strive to pursue and preserve things that benefit people, we are helping to build people up and that is a better success.

3)    They are in short supply: With the speed of technological and economical developments success in material things are easier to attend. There are plenty of supplies the world can provide to help us become successful in things. But there is a serious shortage of supply of godly virtues such as those mentioned in the scripture reference today: humility, patience, gentle and love. Most people can get by life with less of material success but crave for more of the biblical virtues. It is the heart that perceives happiness not the things we may have. What this world needs is not more success in material creation or possession but more the kind of success God wants us to have. The world will become better if we persist in the pursuit of this kind of success.

4)    They are more lasting: How many of us still remember or were impressed by things we used to have or gifts we received long time ago? But we all remember those kind words others spoken to us when we were depressed, patience shown to us when we were so intense, gentle touch on us when we were hurt and support and forgiveness we received when we had failed. Few people will remember material success but most people will remember gesture of Christian values for a long time. Success in biblical virtues can also cause ripple effects, passing from one to another and the result is hard to measure or predict.

CONCLUSION:

1)    What are you striving for?  Pursuing success is nothing wrong but what kind of success are you pursuing: worldly or godly? What will God say about your success when you see Him someday? What will your success impact others more and longer after you are gone? Build yourself up with qualities that will change life.

2)    Take a life inventory: Sit down and write down your goals of life and things that are important to you. Compare them with what God wants you to achieve and see how much difference are there in the 2 lists. Seek God’s help to rearrange your priority of life.

3)    Get on the right track: This world has its way in leading people to short cuts of success with no eternal values. God has a much better plan for your life and He wants to show you how. Ask Jesus to come into your heart and He will proper your life 10 times better.