The Definition of Success

December 18, 2020

1 Corinthians 4

“For what gives you the right to make such a judgment? What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if everything you have is from God, why boast as though it were not a gift?” 1 Corinthians 4:7 (NLT)

Big Idea: Our definition of success is redefined by the cross.

What does winning look like? Will you find out that you have made it by the number on your W2? Maybe when your candidate gets elected? Or is it living in the right house in the right neighborhood? We all have our own private definitions of success, but few of us would consider prison, failure, and poverty to fit the bill. Yet, from outward appearances, that is what the apostles had acquired. The Corinthians, on the other hand, saw themselves as wise victors, popular and already perfect. 

The problem was that their definition of success could not make sense of the cross. If it was through the apparent foolishness of death and suffering that God chose to redeem the world, could Jesus’ people expect anything different? If we really believe that the path to glory is cross shaped, then we will have to acknowledge that sometimes pain will come first. The apostles were treated like garbage, but their apparent rejection was only temporary. God would overrule all human judgments and bring them to glory.

If we are going to live as faithful Christians, we must realize that God’s path for us is not always going to be an easy one. He uses pain and sorrow as tools to shape us into the people He would have us to be. Can we see faithfulness as success, even without obvious results? If not, we need to spend more time worshipping God through the cross, and realize the glory of it. 

Discussion Idea: What is the definition of success that your parents have taught you? Your teachers? Your friends? The media? How does God’s definition of success compare and contrast?

Prayer Focus: Ask God for the strength to be faithful and to keep your eyes on Him.