Success is a word that gets thrown around a lot in our culture. We tend to define success by worldly standards like wealth, fame, power, and status. But as Christians, we know that God’s definition of success is very different from the world’s. So how does God define success? What does it really mean to be successful in God’s eyes? In this post, we’ll explore what the Bible says about true success and how God calls us to live.
The world tells us that success means accumulating more money, achieving fame, and gaining power over others. But Jesus gave us a very different model of success. He valued humility over pride, service over domination, and sacrifice over selfishness. True success in God’s eyes involves developing Christlike character, bearing spiritual fruit, and storing up eternal treasures.
Here are a few key takeaways on how God defines success:
- Success means loving God and neighbor wholeheartedly
- Success means using your gifts and resources to serve others
- Success means being faithful and obedient to God’s calling
- Success involves spiritual growth and fruitfulness
- Success is not about worldly measures of fame and fortune
The rest of this post will unpack what it really means to be successful according to God’s standards. We’ll look at what the Bible says about success, examine godly examples of success, and discuss how to apply God’s definition of success in our daily lives. The goal is to understand true success the way God sees it.
God Values Character Over Accomplishments
The world emphasizes external measures of achievement and status as the marks of success. But God is concerned first and foremost with our inner character. 1 Samuel 16:7 reminds us that “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
It’s our heart, motives and character that matter most to God. He measures success by the fruit of the Spirit – “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). Developing Christlike character traits is a core component of success in God’s eyes.
The Bible praises people like Daniel who lived with integrity and faithfully followed God despite facing intense pressure (Daniel 6:4-5). His commitment to righteous character was a great success.
On the other hand, King Saul started off well but became prideful and disobedient. He cared more about keeping up appearances than pleasing God. As a result, God rejected him despite his position and accomplishments (1 Samuel 15:22-23). Saul was a failure in the ways that matter most.
As Christians, our life goal shouldn’t be to impress others or achieve worldly fame. It should be to honor God in our daily lives and increasingly reflect Jesus’ character. Are we growing in patience, honesty, compassion and humility? That’s how God measures true success.
Success Means Being Faithful and Obedient
In our accomplishments-driven culture, we tend to equate success with achievement. If we can just accomplish enough, we’ll be successful, right? But God defines success by faithfulness and obedience, not achievements. You can accomplish great things in the world’s eyes yet still be a failure in God’s eyes if you compromised godly principles to get there.
For example, Solomon was immensely successful by worldly standards. He amassed great wealth and power. He built impressive buildings and had hundreds of wives (1 Kings 4:26, 10:23). But Solomon failed to remain faithful and obedient to God. He married pagan women, worshipped idols, and disobeyed God’s standards for kings (1 Kings 11:1-13). By the end of his reign, Solomon was a failure in God’s eyes despite all his wealth and accomplishments.
In contrast, Noah was a great success in God’s eyes. He faithfully followed God’s instructions to build an ark and preach repentance, even though it made him look like a fool to others (Hebrews 11:7). Noah stayed faithful and obedient through very challenging circumstances. This brought him great success in the ways that matter eternally.
As Christians, we shouldn’t get caught up in trying to impress the world. The ultimate measure of success is how consistently we follow Jesus in obedience. Are we making choices each day to obey God’s Word? That’s what it means to be truly successful.
Success Involves Spiritual Growth and Fruitfulness
From an earthly perspective, it’s easy to define success in terms of material possessions and accomplishments. But God measures success by spiritual maturity and fruitfulness. He wants to see His character increasingly reflected in us.
For example, when Paul wrote to the Philippian church, he didn’t commend them for their wealth, accomplishments or status. He thanked God for their “partnership in the gospel” and prayed that their “love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight” (Philippians 1:5,9). Paul knew that true success was all about their spiritual growth and fruitfulness in Christ.
In His parable about the growing seed, Jesus used agricultural fruitfulness to illustrate spiritual fruitfulness (Mark 4:8). Just like apple trees fulfill their purpose when they bear fruit, we fulfill our purpose when our lives bear the fruit of the Spirit – “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).
It’s tempting to measure ourselves by worldly achievements. But are we growing in Christlike maturity? Are we increasingly characterized by the fruit of the Spirit? That’s how God defines success. The more we grow to be like Jesus, the more successful we are in God’s eyes.
Success Means Using Gifts to Serve Others
The world promotes self-centeredness, status-seeking and abusing power for personal gain. But Jesus modeled servant leadership that used position and abilities to serve others. He taught that those who humbly serve are the greatest in God’s kingdom (Matthew 23:11-12).
This aspect of success is illustrated in the parable of the talents. The master in the story gave different sums of money (talents) to each servant according to their abilities. The servants who invested and multiplied their talents were rewarded for their faithfulness. But the servant who simply hid his talent was rebuked for failing to employ it for positive increase (Matthew 25:14-30).
God gives each of us unique gifts and opportunities. True success means stewarding those well to bless others, not taking them for granted. We shouldn’t compare ourselves to others, but faithfully develop our own gifts.
For example, Esther used her position as queen to advocate for justice and save her people (Esther 4:14). Nehemiah used his trusted position in the king’s court to lead and motivate people in rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls (Nehemiah 2:1-18). Both achieved great success by using their positions to serve God’s purposes.
As Christians, we shouldn’t be jealous of others’ gifts and opportunities. We should humbly ask God how we can use what He’s given us to serve Him and bless others. That’s the path to true success.
Success Means Producing Eternal Fruit
Worldly success is often fleeting – fame fades, wealth gets spent. At the end of our lives, earthly successes won’t matter anymore. That’s why Paul encourages us to invest in “the one who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17). Only eternal investments will count in the end.
Jesus told a parable contrasting two types of soil that produced dramatically different results. One soil produced a crop that withered away and died. The other soil produced an abundant crop that endured (Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23). The lasting crop represents fruit with eternal value.
As Christians, our lives should be characterized by eternal fruitfulness through the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul describes this fruit as “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). This fruit will have an enduring impact in ourselves, others and for the kingdom of God.
We also bear eternal fruit when we invest in people to build God’s kingdom. Jesus said: “Make disciples of all nations . . . teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). When we disciple others and lead them to salvation through Christ, that fruit will multiply forever. No earthly success compares.
At the end of our lives, worldly achievements will quickly fade away. But the eternal treasure we store and the spiritual fruit we produce will last for eternity. That’s true success.
Applying God’s Definition of Success
We’ve explored principles for how God defines success according to the Bible. Here are some practical tips for applying these truths to our daily lives:
- Examine your priorities: Is accumulating more wealth and status driving you? Or are you focused on serving God and others? Keep your priorities aligned with eternal values.
- Assess your character: Are you growing in patience, honesty, humility and other Christlike qualities? Regularly examine your character and seek to become more like Jesus.
- Cultivate spiritual fruit: Are you experiencing more joy, peace, kindness and other fruit of the Spirit? These qualities embody true success. Nurture them through Bible study, prayer, fellowship and obedience.
- Use gifts to serve: Ask God how your abilities, resources and experiences can be best used to serve Him and others. Be faithful with what you’ve been given.
- Invest in eternity: Don’t get caught up in temporal pursuits that one day will fade. Invest your time, talents and treasures into people and ministries that produce eternal fruit.
The world’s definition of success focuses on fame, achievements and prosperity. But God defines success very differently. True success means having integrity, obeying God, serving others, growing spiritually, and producing eternal fruit. This type of success may not impress people or be glamorous, but it leads to eternal rewards.
As Christians, we need to embrace God’s definition of success rather than chasing the world’s definition. When we live each day loving God, becoming more like Jesus, walking in the Spirit’s power and bearing eternal fruit, we can experience real and lasting success. In God’s eyes, nothing is more successful than a life fully devoted to Him.