Success is something that all humans desire in some form or another. We want to succeed in our careers, relationships, spiritual growth, and life purpose. As Christians, we know that true and lasting success comes from following God’s plan for our lives. But what exactly does God say about achieving success? In this comprehensive blog post, we will explore the Biblical principles for success and how to apply them in a God-honoring way.
The world has a very different definition of success than God does. Our culture tends to emphasize money, fame, power, prestige, and material possessions as measurements of success. However, the Bible gives us a very different perspective. True success in God’s eyes is not dependent on outward circumstances but rather on the condition of our hearts and our obedience to His ways.
Here are some key Biblical principles about success that we will cover in this post:
- Success comes from following and obeying God, not seeking worldly measures.
- God defines success by our faithfulness and character, not our performance.
- Success often requires humility, sacrifice and suffering.
- Success comes through seeking God first, not status or selfish gain.
- Success involves developing our God-given gifts and talents.
- Success means stewarding our resources wisely for God’s glory.
- Success comes through abiding in Christ and producing spiritual fruit.
- Success involves blessing and serving others.
The Bible shows us that genuine success is not measured by human standards but by spiritual ones. As we grow in our relationship with Christ and apply Kingdom principles, we will experience the success and fulfillment God desires for us. Let’s explore what the Bible says about achieving true success.
Success Comes From Following and Obeying God
The first key principle of Biblical success is that it comes from following the Lord and obeying His Word, not seeking after worldly measures. Joshua 1:8 says, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” (NKJV)
This verse shows that success comes from meditating on God’s Word and observing His commandments. When we align our lives with Biblical principles, we will experience true prosperity and success. Rather than chasing selfish ambitions, we must seek first God’s Kingdom and righteousness (Matthew 6:33).
The Old Testament story of Solomon illustrates this truth powerfully. Early in his reign, Solomon sought the Lord wholeheartedly. 1 Kings 3:14 says the Lord gave him success because “you have not asked riches or wealth or honor or the life of your enemies or even long life, but you have asked for yourself wisdom and knowledge that you may rule My people.” Solomon’s priority was obeying and pleasing God, not status or wealth, and he experienced great success.
But later in life, Solomon turned his heart from the Lord and began serving idols. He still possessed great wealth and power, but he lost God’s favor. Despite all his earthly success, Solomon died an apostate and his kingdom was soon divided. This shows that lasting success comes from faithfulness to God, not worldly achievements apart from Him.
As believers, our life purpose is to glorify God and walk in His ways. When we make pleasing Christ our primary ambition, He will lead us to true prosperity and purpose (Matthew 6:33). But if we only seek worldly measures of success, we will end up empty and dissatisfied. Our success starts with pursuing an intimate relationship with God and obeying His Word wholeheartedly.
God Defines Success By Our Faithfulness and Character
Another foundational principle is that the Lord defines success by our faithfulness and Christlike character, not our performance and achievements. Many people measure their lives by a worldly yardstick of fame, power, wealth, and status. But God uses a very different standard to evaluate success. He looks first at the motivations of our hearts and whether we are walking in obedience and surrender to Him.
1 Timothy 4:8 says, “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” (NIV) While keeping our bodies healthy has some temporal benefits, pursuing spiritual maturity has eternal value. As believers, we should be far more concerned with cultivating godly character qualities than worldly achievements.
Several times in Scripture, God makes it clear that He defines success by our depth of love and obedience, not outward accolades and performance. After David committed grievous sin by committing adultery and murder, the prophet Nathan confronted him in 2 Samuel 12. But Nathan also assured David that God had forgiven and accepted him, saying in verse 7, “I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul… And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more!” (NKJV)
Despite David’s serious failures, God still considered him successful because He looked at the whole arc of David’s life and his heart of surrender to God, not just temporary backsliding. This shows us that our success is not determined by individual acts but by our life pattern of walking with God. Even when we stumble, God forgives and restores us as we repent. He values our faithfulness and devotion to Him above any outward markers of success.
Proverbs 16:6 affirms this principle: “Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the LORD evil is avoided.” (NIV) Our faithfulness to walk in love and obedience is what grants us favor with God. Performance is not the foundation for success. Pleasing God through righteous living is what truly matters. When we repent of sins, He is quick to forgive and grant success to those whose hearts are fully His.
Success Often Requires Humility, Sacrifice and Suffering
While the world champions status, comfort, and self-promotion, God’s definition of success often requires humility, sacrifice, and suffering. 1 Peter 5:6 declares, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you” (ESV). Success in God’s kingdom starts with humility and yielding to God’s sovereignty.
Furthermore, success often involves sacrifice and suffering. Paul says in Philippians 3:8-11 that he lost everything so that he may “gain Christ.” He willingly suffered the loss of worldly status and acclaim in order to know Christ deeply. And in Romans 8:17, Paul asserts that we are “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” (ESV) Success requires identifying with Christ in His sufferings so that we may also share in His glory.
This principle is modeled in the life of Moses. Hebrews 11:24-26 describes how Moses chose to be mistreated with God’s people rather than enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin and status in Pharaoh’s palace. Why? Because “he regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.” (NIV) Moses forsook worldly success and embraced suffering because his eyes were fixed on eternal success with Christ.
These passages reveal that success requires humility and sacrifice. God often uses suffering to produce perseverance, character, and hope in our lives (Romans 5:3-4). Rather than avoiding pain and hardship, we are to embrace it as a tool to make us more like Christ and further God’s Kingdom. We cannot achieve true, lasting success apart from humility and sacrifice. God’s definition of success looks very different from the world’s.
Success Comes Through Seeking God First, Not Status
One clear truth in Scripture is that success flows from seeking God first, not status, fame, or selfish gain. Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (ESV) When we pursue intimacy with Christ above everything else, God provides the materials things we need. But success evades those whose primary goal is status or wealth.
Psalm 20:4 declares, “May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.” (NIV) When our heart’s deepest desire is truly for the Lord and His glory, He will ensure our plans bear fruit. But Psalm 127:1-2 warns that working hard simply to accumulate wealth is vain: “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain…In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat – for he grants sleep to those he loves.” Success comes from the Lord’s blessing, not merely human effort.
Proverbs 16:3 affirms, “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” (ESV) When we commit our careers and plans to God in prayer, He causes them to succeed. But those who leave God out of their endeavors will not experience lasting success. When our ambition focuses on godly purposes rather than selfish gain, the Lord will ensure our efforts bear fruit that has eternal significance.
James 4:13-16 cautions business people against leaving God out of their work: “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow…Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’” We should submit our career plans to God in humility rather than assuming success. When God is our priority, He directs our steps so that our work prospers and has lasting impact.
Success Involves Developing our God-Given Gifts and Talents
For believers, succeeding in life involves stewarding well the gifts and talents God has given us for His glory. In Jesus’ Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), He teaches that each servant was given talents (money) according to their ability. Two invested them wisely and doubled their money. But one buried his talent in fear.
The master commended the two wise servants, saying: “Well done, good and trustworthy slave. You have been trustworthy in a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.” (v. 23) Their faithfulness in cultivating what God had given them resulted in success and promotion. But the servant who simply preserved what he was given received a harsh rebuke for his lack of effort.
This parable illustrates that we will experience success when we maximize the gifts and resources God entrusts to us rather than playing it safe. Your talents may differ from others around you, but God expects you to develop them fully for His purposes, not bury them in fear or complacency. When we stewards our talents well, God will expand our spheres of Kingdom influence. But failure to cultivate our gifts leads to lack of success and eternal regrets.
Ephesians 2:10 declares, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” God fashioned you with specific gifts, passions, and personalities for accomplishing His works. When you devote yourself to discovering and exercising your unique talents for God’s glory, you will experience great purpose and success. God desires to use the distinctive person He made you to be for His Kingdom. Lean into developing and maximizing your God-given design.
1 Corinthians 12 compares the Church to a physical body. Just as each body part has a vital role, every believer is needed to fulfill their special function. You are essential to the Church fulfilling her God-given mission. As you walk in obedience and employ your gifts, you contribute to the overarching purposes of Christ’s Kingdom. Success comes from understanding your divine design and stewarding it well. Do not buy into the enemy’s lies that your talents are insignificant. God wants to powerfully use you exactly as you are.
Success Means Stewarding Our Resources Wisely
A key aspect of achieving success is managing our financial resources, time, and energy well for eternal impact. Jesus tells several parables underscoring the importance of stewarding our resources wisely rather than squandering them on selfish pursuits. In Matthew 25:14-30, the servant who simply buried his money failed to be a wise steward and was cast into outer darkness.
Luke 16 shares the Parable of the Dishonest Manager who mismanaged his master’s resources. And the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32 wasted his entire inheritance on reckless living. Each of these characters used what they were given to serve themselves rather than their master. Consequently, they were harshly disciplined for their poor stewardship.
These parables teach us to avoid wasting our resources or using them for merely earthly purposes. As Christians, God owns everything we have, and He expects us to manage it for His eternal glory. This applies to our financial assets, time each day, mental and physical energy, and employment opportunities. Are we using what God gave us to advance His work or simply to indulge ourselves? That is the measure of success in God’s estimation.
Ephesians 5:15-17 charges us: “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” (NIV) Success involves maximizing every chance to further God’s Kingdom and living intentionally for His purposes, not coasting aimlessly. We are called to redeem the time (Colossians 4:5). Our days on earth are limited, so we must steward them wisely. This requires planning, focus, and deliberate effort to use our resources for eternity.
When we stand before Jesus, He will evaluate how faithfully we managed the time, gifts, and resources He allotted us. Were we diligent in using them for the highest purpose – to glorify Him? The parable of the talents shows us that success means maximizing what God entrusts to us for His glory. Faithful stewardship leads to eternity with Christ saying, “Well done!”
Success Comes Through Abiding in Christ and Producing Spiritual Fruit
While the world defines success in terms of achievement and status, God’s Word frames true success by spiritual maturity and fruitfulness. What matters most to God is not what we do outwardly but who we become inwardly through walking closely with Jesus. Success flows from abiding in Christ and allowing His Spirit to produce godly character and fruit in our lives.
John 15:1-8 describes Jesus as the true vine and believers as the branches. He commands us to “abide in me, and I in you” (v. 4). When we abide in close fellowship with Christ, our lives will yield much spiritual fruit that brings glory to the Father. But apart from abiding in Jesus, we can do nothing of eternal value (v. 5). Intimacy with Christ is the foundation for success.
As we spend time praying, worshiping, meditating on Scripture, and surrendering areas of our lives to God’s control, the Holy Spirit develops Christlike character within us described as the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Our lives begin to radiate Jesus’ glorious nature. This inner spiritual fruit is true success.
Furthermore, as we walk in unbroken communion with Jesus, He will bear fruit through us, empowering us to fulfill His works. John 15:16 (NIV) says, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.” Abiding in Christ is the only way to produce lasting spiritual fruit and success for eternity.
We cannot manufacture fruit in our own strength. Jesus asserted, “for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) Our good works and ministry efforts will only make an eternal impact if they flow from a vital connection to the vine of Christ. Staying nourished in God’s presence through prayer and worship is the wellspring of success.
Success Involves Blessing and Serving Others
The world promotes pursuing status, power, and resources for self-advancement. But in God’s kingdom, true success involves selflessly blessing and empowering others. While the Gentiles seek after fame and lord over others, Jesus taught that greatness comes from serving (Matthew 20:25-28). The one who puts others first will be first in God’s eyes.
Galatians 5:13 instructs us to “serve one another humbly in love.” (NIV) Rather than climbing over people to achieve our dreams, we are called to look out for the interests of others and meet their needs. The theme of promotion through humbly serving pervades Scripture. Jesus washed the disciples’ feet then told them, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” (John 13:14-15)
As believers, our life purpose includes caring for the vulnerable and empowering those in need. James 1:27 says pure religion involves looking after widows and orphans in distress. Rather than striving for recognition, true success involves lifting up the overlooked and forgotten members of society. God remembers and honors those who compassionately serve “the least of these” out of loving hearts (Matthew 25:31-46).
Of course, we also are called to serve other believers and build up the body of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-16 describes spiritual leaders equipping believers to serve in ministry until all reach unity and maturity in Christ. God designed each of us to use our gifts to strengthen His church. Philippians 2:3-4 exhorts us to look out not only for our own interests but also the interests of others. Serving one another in the household of faith pleases the Lord and contributes to His overall work.
As we pour ourselves out to empower those around us for God’s glory, we will experience deep purpose and eternal success. God remembers and rewards those who freely give themselves to serve others and further His Kingdom. The path to greatness is laying down selfish ambition to lift up others.
The world’s definition of success emphasizes fame, comfort, status, and wealth. But God has a very different perspective revealed in Scripture. His version of success flows from faithful obedience, spiritual maturity, wise stewardship, and selfless service.
Here are some key truths from this study about achieving success God’s way:
- True success comes from seeking God first, not worldly status or selfish gain. When our primary desire is intimacy with Christ, He directs our steps and blesses our efforts.
- God defines success based on our surrendered character and faithful obedience, not outward performance and achievements. He looks at the motivations of our heart.
- Biblical success often requires embracing humility, sacrifice, and suffering. God uses trials to produce Christlike maturity.
- We experience success when we steward our resources – including talents, time and money – well for God’s eternal purposes. He rewards faithfulness and wise investments in His Kingdom.
- Abiding in Christ is crucial for success. As we stay connected to Jesus, the Holy Spirit produces spiritual fruit and empowerment to accomplish God’s works.
- Blessing and serving others advances God’s Kingdom and fulfills His command to love one another. Putting others first results in true greatness.
Rather than focusing on what our culture defines as success, believers are called to embrace God’s perspective revealed in Scripture. When we build our lives on Biblical principles, we will experience deep fulfillment, lasting spiritual fruit, and eternal rewards for faithful service. Our success starts and ends with pursuing an intimate walk with Christ and embracing His priorities. May we all live for God’s glory and definition of success rather than our own!