Defining Success

In preparation for Easter, I’ve been reading Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross edited by Nancy Guthrie. It’s a collection of readings drawn from the writings and sermons of 25 theologians and Bible teachers. Here’s a excerpt from my reading this morning.

Commenting on Philippians 3:7-11, Tim Keller writes:

Religious people are very busy in their religion doing lots of religious activities, and then they expect their lives to go the way they want them to go. And if they find their career or their love life isn’t going very well, they say, “What good is all this religion? I’m doing all these things, where’s God? (p. 135)


Many people believe the propositions. They believe the historical facts about Jesus, but their real agenda is personal success. So they go to Christ when they want to and need to. Paul says that a Christian is someone who has turned that all around so that personal success is defined by knowing him and the power of his resurrection, and everything else becomes second. (p. 136)

That’s powerful reminder. We’re never told that following Jesus will lead to our personal success in this world. This kind of thinking is another form of works-based theology – I do the right things, so God accepts/rewards me. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that’s not the way it works.

It’s my prayer this Easter season, that we would define personal success differently. That God would give each of us a desire to define our personal success in terms of knowing Christ and the power of his resurrection.