Today would you consider with me four words: Success, Significance, Sin, and Satisfaction? This sounds like it should be a test question which asks which word does not fit with the others. However as we look deeper we may be able to find ways that these words are interestingly interconnected.
Perhaps we should first look into each of these words, their definitions and their potential connection with the other words in this set. First Success: What is your definition of success? Some of the possible signs of success are: To drive a fancy car, to live in a large palatial home, to take expensive vacations, or to hold a large valuable portfolio. As we consider these and similar signs of success, we will look then how these interact with sin and satisfaction and significance.
We must agree that the signs of success that are in the forefront of most of our minds are pretty superficial and temporary, particularly in light of eternity. These may bring a short term sense of satisfaction and significance but in the long term they can be more closely associated with sin. No, it is not a sin to drive a nice car, or live in a big house. However the desire for these things may be an outward signs of an inward heart of seeking significance through a focus on and love for the things of this world.
1 John 2:15 (AMP)
15 Do not love or cherish the world or the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him.
Mark 12:29-30 (NASB95)
29 Jesus answered, "The foremost is, 'HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD;
30 AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.'
We are commanded to love God above everything else with all of our might. To secretly and silently fall in love with the things of this world is inevitably a stealth slide into the slippery slough of sin. Perhaps we need to look suspiciously at our appraisal of success.
Significance is a incredibly challenging concept. So much of significance is at a deep heart level below and behind easy access. Though subtle, our search for significance is a part of our created nature. God provided each of us with “significance radar.” It is always on. This radar subconsciously evaluates everything in our lives checking to see if our present or planned activity will build up or tear down our sense of significance.
How then does significance relate to sin and to success and satisfaction? This question may require vigilant authentic assessment. In regard to sin satisfaction has a major role to play on either side of the sin question. Sin moves into full bloom when we seek to fulfill our desires for significance in inappropriate ways. Satan offers shortcuts. He offered Jesus a kingdom without pain and suffering. He will offer you short term significance in any manner of ways if you are willing to break a few small or perhaps large regulations. When we take his bait we instantly began to tarnish our true significance.
God made us to seek significance. True lasting significance is found only in Him. God’s love, His desire to be in an intimate personal relationship with us is the high water mark of our authentic personal significance. Any search for significance apart from God will inevitably lead us into sin.
John 17:25-26 (NASB95)
25 "O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me;
26 and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them."
God’s plan for our significance is that we might know Him and experience His love, the love with which God loves Jesus can be in us and His Spirit will fill us if we live sold out for Jesus! This sold out for Jesus plan executed by faith defeats sin and is filled with success and brings us eternal satisfaction.
Satisfaction: every company strives to provide satisfaction to their customers. Satisfaction as it relates to sin is a neutral term. It can be good or bad depending on the desire to be satisfied and the means of satisfying the driving desire. Adam and Eve seemed to be seeking satisfaction in the Garden of Eden. Satan had a smooth lie he hoped they would buy. And buy they did.
Satan first created the desire and then provided the means to satisfy the desire but immediately after the choice to sin was made, their sense of satisfaction vanished. They not only did not attain to the stately status of satisfaction but they rather fell into the abysmal state of shame. Would you agree to blindly seek satisfaction may be potentially hazardous?
Satisfaction related to success may follow a similar pattern to its relationship to sin. Godly success as defined above will bring eternal satisfaction. While short term satisfaction arranged by the dismissal of basic spiritual laws to achieve success will inevitably result in shame and loss of long term satisfaction.
Satisfaction related to significance is a function of the moral authenticity of the cause for significance. When our significance is the result of receiving God’s love and forgiveness, then a sense of satisfaction will inescapably follow. However the primary goal of our enemy is to create in our hearts a sense of dissatisfaction in order to encourage us to seek satisfaction in ways that will be very destructive to our real sense of ultimate significance.
So then how can we maintain an honest pursuit of success, significance and satisfaction while staying exclusively on the holy side of sin?
Hebrews 12:1-3 (NASB95)
1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
The author of Hebrews has much to offer us in the first three verses of Chapter Twelve. He first tells us that we must “lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us.” What is it in your life that is not called sin but is clearly an encumbrance, tying hands from serving, binding feet from following, and drawing a heart from loving? Then there is the sin. Could this sin be the sin of unbelief? Unbelief is clearly a significant sin and is further pregnant with potential to spawn a myriad of other entanglements.
Secondly he calls us “to run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Two strong encouragements are embodied in these few words. First is the idea it is a race. We are to run. J. Vernon McGee tells the story of a little girl who woke up her mother in the middle of the night crying. Her mother rushed into her room and asked, ”Honey how come you fell out of bed?” The little girl replied, “I think I stayed too close to the place where I got in.” We should not stay close to where we got in. We need to get into the race.
Secondly we must run with endurance. The Christian life was not designed by God to be a downhill slide. We must forget the idea that God is all about making us comfortable. He is not about making us comfortable, He is about making us holy. This is difficult work and it requires patience and endurance with trials. God will provide the strength for our endurance if we are committed to endure. If however we are regularly looking for an easy way out we will not likely find great strength from God.
Thirdly and perhaps most importantly he strongly encourages us to “fix our eyes on Jesus.” Where are your eyes fixed? Are your eyes seeking success or significance or satisfaction in the things of this world? Satan seriously desires to subtly seduce our eyes. First our eyes then our minds then our hearts and then sin reigns. We must fix our eyes on Jesus it is the only way we can faithfully follow Him! Success significance and satisfaction are found eternally in Jesus. Sin was also found in Him when He took mine and yours and died on a Roman cross.
Proverbs 15:29 (AMP)
29 The Lord is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the [consistently] righteous (the upright, in right standing with Him).
God’s response to our prayers is not disassociated with our walk before Him, rather it is our walk of faith seeking Him that bends His ear to hear and answer our prayers. Over history we see genuine revival repeatedly being born in the womb of the prayers of righteous men and women who were willing to pray with perseverance until it comes. May God grant us this fervent persistence!