When we imagine a successful person, we immediately visualize someone who is famous for their talent or looks, who owns half the city of New York, or who has a bank account the size of Texas. Culture has ingrained in our heads that this is what it means to be a success – have lots, do lots, and be lots. However, only a small percentage of the world came claim all these “lots.” So where does that leave the rest of us average little people who can’t claim all this stuff?
Thankfully, God hasn’t left us “average” people on the side-lines, forgotten and unappreciated. His view of success is quite a bit different than ours, and applies to everyone, not just an elite group of people. One day we all will stand before God and give an account of our lives. Gone are the diplomas, trophies, bank accounts, and fans. Stripped of all the world claims as important and successful, we will stand naked before the God of the universe (2 Corinthians 5:10). The question is, will God appreciate our efforts toward being successful? Will all that cash, popularity, and property mean much to God the day we stand before Him?
When we read through I Corinthians 3:11-17, we find that there are some things that will stand the testing of God’s fire, and some things that will burn in its heat. Comparing our lives against a quick checklist can decide whether we’ll have anything left after God’s test. Did becoming the world’s richest person bring God glory or simply satisfy ourselves? Was all the power we had for our gain or God’s? When we flashed our smile in front of flashing cameras, was it for us or for the Kingdom of God? If the answer is that it was for our glory then we know there won’t be anything left on that “foundation.” All that stuff was just “wood, hay, and straw,” no match for a blaze.
On the other hand, if everything we pursued pointed to Jesus and gave Him the glory, what’s left on the foundation will be quite a bit different. Gold, silver, and precious stones have the strength to go untouched by fire. When the blaze is doused, they will still be there, sparkling and precious to God because it was done for Him.
The temptation is to look at our lives and question our worth. When everyone claims that true success comes from a Bill Gates bank account or a Jennifer Aniston filmography, we need to stop and consider whose standard matters most. In the end, we won’t be answering to a panel of judges or a financial institute. We will be answering to God, our Creator and the “author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). He alone decides our eternity. More than anything, our cry should be not for worldly success, but to hear our Father God say, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. enter into the joy of the Lord.” (Matthew 25:21).