How do you measure your success? The world may measure success by profit, prosperity, or prestige. God measures success by your faithfulness. How faithful are you to God? A faithful person is trustworthy and reliable. Some people make faithfulness a hallmark of their human relationships, but the faithfulness that matters most is the faithfulness we show towards God.
Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 4:1-5
Are you successful today? What measure do you use to measure your success? The world may measure success by profit – how much are you earning? By prosperity – what do you own? By prestige – how high are you in the corporate ladder?
How does God measure success? We’ll see from scriptures that God measures success by faithfulness. How faithful are you to God?
God wants us to be faithful to what He has called us to do. He is not going to measure you based on how many followers you have, how many years of religious life you have completed, how great things have you done etc. These are all important, and we want them. But what God really wants to see is your faithfulness.
Faithfulness is not a virtue appreciated much today. We see that in marriages – relationship between spouse. In friendships, breaking of bonds. In religious life, betrayal of perpetual commitments etc.
Paul was experiencing some difficulty with his ministry in the church in Corinth. If we go by popularity and numbers, Paul’s ministry at Corinth does not seem to be very successful. When the people start judging him, he tells them: “I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself; my conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.” (1 Cor 4:3-4)
True success is not to be measured in terms of what man can see, but in terms of what God sees. “My judge,” says Paul, “is not man or even myself, but God.”
And how will God judge me? He said it in the first few verses: “Let everyone then see us as servants of Christ and stewards of the secret works of God. Being stewards, faithfulness shall be demanded of us.” (1 Cor 4:1-2)
In other words, the important thing for us is to be faithful… faithful to God and the work God has entrusted to us. Notice the words Paul uses: we are “servants” of Christ; “entrusted” with a message of salvation; and “given a trust”.
Paul uses the word steward (or slaves). A steward was a confidential slave to whom the master entrusted his affairs. He was an administrator of the master’s household, but still a slave of the master. Although he has great responsibility, he is always and in everything, accountable to the Master. Both he (slave) and his work belongs to the master.
It is absolutely a description of you and me. We are the redeemed of the Lord. We belong to Him. He is our Lord and Master, for He redeemed us by His blood and this life comes from Him. And He has given us all a trust – a work. The most basic one is the great commission – to share the Gospel. All of us have different calling. Some are called to be pastors, some teachers, some evangelists… but whatever it is, it is God’s work and we are his servants.
A young man applied for a job as a farmhand. When the farmer asked for his qualifications, he said, “I can sleep when the wind blows.” This puzzled the farmer. But he liked the young man, and so hired him.
A few days later, the farmer and his wife were awakened in the night by a violent storm. They quickly began to check things out to see if all was secure. They found that the shutters of the farmhouse had been securely fastened. A good supply of logs had been set next to the fireplace. The young man slept soundly.
The farmer and his wife then inspected their property. They found that the farm tools had been placed in the storage shed. The barn was properly locked. Even the animals were calm. All was well.
The farmer then understood the meaning of the young man’s words, “I can sleep when the wind blows.” Because the farmhand did his work loyally and faithfully when the skies were clear, he was prepared for the storm when it broke. So when the wind blew, he was not afraid. He could sleep in peace.
There was nothing dramatic or sensational in the young boy’s preparations – he just faithfully did what was needed each day. Consequently, peace was his, even in a storm. Paul says “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.”
In Mat 24:45-46 we read, “Imagine a faithful and wise servant whom his master has put in charge of his household to give them food at the proper time. Fortunate indeed is that servant if his master on coming finds him carrying out his duty.” Therefore, whether in big or small ways, we must do what God has entrusted us.
In the Parable of the Talents (Mat 25:14-30), we see that God is not going to see your success in terms of quantity, output… number of baptisms you have done but your faithfulness – whether God has given you 5, 2 or 1 talent. We don’t have to compare your talents or your accomplishments but on how faithful are you to the much or little given to you in trust?
God is looking for faithfulness. He has entrusted the work of His Kingdom to us, and wants to find us faithful. We must be prepared to see Him on His return and be accountable to what we have done. We have to be faithful to His Word and His Work.
In December 1994, on the morning after American comedian Jack Benny died, Mary, who had been married to him for 48 years, received a single long-stemmed rose which was delivered to her without a card from the local florist.
The following day, and every day after, a rose kept coming. Intrigued, Mary phoned the florist, who explained that quite some time ago, her husband himself had come to the shop and made this special arrangement. A lump came to Mary’s throat and tears filled her eyes.
Later, it was discovered that Jack had actually included a provision in his will for the florist to supply “one perfect rose daily for the rest of Mary’s life.” Indeed, a clear example of faithfulness even after death.
The world has interpreted success differently. Being faithful is not the key to a successful life, but not in the eyes of God. Look at the disciples – most of them died as criminals. Heb 11:36-37 describes what happens to many of Jesus’ followers – “Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned ; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated …”
They suffered because they chose to remain faithful to God’s Word and God’s Work. According to the world’s standards, all of them were absolute failures! Yet Hebrews 11:38 says, “the world was not worthy of them.”
All these people were called losers or failures by the world. Yet they were honoured by God. Why? Because they were faithful to their Master. They were faithful servants. They were successful not because of prosperity and power, not because of prestige or popularity, but only because they were found faithful to the Lord. They were faithful in obeying His Word and doing His work.
Mother Teresa clearly told her sisters, “We are not called to be successful. We are called to be faithful.”
Whenever God give us a responsibility, let us accept it and do our best at it. Treat each small task as important and demonstrate that God can depend on us. One day, we are going to hear the Lord says, “Well done, good and faithful servants.”
Mat 25:23 “His master replied, ’Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’”
Luke 16:10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.
The Faithfulness of God
God is faithful. He does what He promises to do. Moreover, because God is faithful, we dare have courage to trust Him and His promises. Faith is a gift, but even a gift must be opened to be enjoyed. As we implement our faith, we begin to realize more and more about God’s faithfulness to us.
1. Psalm 36:5 – “Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.”
2. Corinthians 1:9 – “God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.”
3. 1 Corinthians 10:13 – “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so you can stand up under it.”
4. 2 Thessalonians 3:3 – “The Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.”
In this world of ceaseless change and confusion, uncertainty and insecurity, we need to put our trust in God because He is the only One who is always faithful!