Theology 101

Biblical Boundaries of Success

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As we begin to understand that our work is important to God and He has given us everything we need to be successful in our calling, it is important to maintain the proper perspective.  We must understand that our Biblical view of success has boundaries.

Yes, through our work God expects us to impact our workplace, our communities, our cities, our nation and the world. Yet, theologian Cornelius Plantinga in his book Engaging God’s World, points out a potential pitfall of this view of success. He writes that those who attempt to change the world in a big way run the risk of oscillating between pride and despair. Between thinking that they have the magic solution that will eliminate the problem in a generation and thinking that the problem will never go away, no matter what they do.

He goes on to offer the following solution:

So, on one hand, we don’t need to take responsibility for trying to fix everything. The earth is the Lord’s, and he will save it. On the other hand, we take responsibility for contributing what we uniquely have to contribute to the Kingdom, joining with many others from across the world who are striving to be faithful, to add the work of their hands and minds to the eventual triumph of God.

The 16th century French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal said that the Christian gospel replaces pride with humility and despair with hope. Nowhere is this more desperately needed than in the work of our vocational calling.

Reading Matthew’s interpretation of Jesus’ Parable of the Talents presents us with a challenge. If one has been entrusted with the knowledge of the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven—and anyone who has read Matthew’s gospel (with eyes to see) is given that very knowledge—then one is expected to put that knowledge to good use.

Those who make an increase will be praised with the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant. . . . Enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:21 ESV). Those who fail to make any increase will be punished with the words, “You wicked, lazy servant!” (Matthew 25:26).

It is up to us which response of the Master we will receive.  Our work is to be driven by our love of the Master, and our only desire should be to receive His praise.

Question: Have you ever struggled with the pitfalls of success, pride and despair? Leave a comment here.

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