Blake Allen, Student and Outreach Minister, LHBC

Joshua 1:6-8
6 Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the Law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may achieve success wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will achieve success.

Maybe you’ve noticed. Maybe you haven’t. But we live in a culture driven by success. If you were to ask what is the goal of life, you would inevitably hear “money, power, and success.” To our culture, not having those things is a sign of failure or lack of effort. What’s interesting is that this teaching has also crept into some churches. The unbiblical teachings of the prosperity gospel is just one example of this. 

Surely, we can affirm God blesses his people. But our best life is still to come. It is not in this world. Our heavenly Father, who owns all the riches and treasures tells us to build our wealth in heaven (Matt 6:19-21). We are to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, not worrying about our provision for life (Matt 6:33). We strive to live for the Lord to gain a heavenly treasure (1 Corin 25). Our life doesn’t consist of an abundance of treasures, and we are to guard against greed (Lk 12:15). For the love of money is the root of evil (1 Tim 6:10). We are to keep free from the love of money (Heb 13:5), and the richest man in the Bible tells us that apart from God, all is vanity ( Eccles 1). 

But the problem is not having money. As much as my two year old eats, we could use some money! And my 7 month old is tracking to be an accomplice to raising our grocery bill. Money is a resource given to us by God for His glory and our provision. We are called to be generous with our money (Acts 20:35). We are called to be good stewards of what God has given us (1 Tim 6:17-21). The problem is adopting the mentality of our culture which drives us to pursue success more than we pursue God. The problem comes in when we have a distorted understanding of the purpose of money. The problem comes in when we fix our eyes upon money, power, and success rather than fixing our eyes upon Jesus. 

With all that said, how should a believer define success? How does God define success? Does the word of God address this topic? Joshua 1 is helpful in addressing these questions. In verse 6, Joshua begins by recognizing God is going to give Israel possession of the promised land. God was going to bless his people and make them prosperous. Israel was going to be made into a wealthy, powerful, and prosperous nation. But wait Blake……If the goal isn’t to live our best life now or pursue riches, then why do we have an example of the people of God becoming prosperous and powerful? Here are a few thoughts: 

  1. God determined to raise up Israel to be a light to the nations (Isaiah 49:6). The purpose of their prosperity was to show how God was faithful to fulfill His promises, how ultimate blessing comes from Him, and, in turn, to demonstrate salvation and rest come from Him. 
  2. Israel’s prosperity was to be used as a resource for the kingdom of God. Because Israel used their prosperity for greed and did not take care of the poor, widows, and orphans, they were punished, their possessions were taken from them, and they were ultimately destroyed (Isaiah 1; Ezekiel 34). 
  3. Jesus came to earth to turn people’s attention off the created things back to the creator; instead of worshipping the created, we are to worship the creator (Romans 1:25). 

Furthermore, notice Joshua doesn’t attribute success to having ownership of the land. He does promise they will be successful in taking the land from their enemies, but it only comes through holding fast to the word of God. Joshua ultimately determines that success is found in knowing God and obeying his commands! It is God who conquers our enemies. It is God who provides for us. It is God who blesses us with everything we have. It is God who deserves our heart’s affection and our eyes’ attention. It is God who promises and speaks victory for His people. 

Success is found in Him, and Him alone! Success was not found in acquiring the land; success was found in the God who promised the land! And when Israel took their eyes off of God and worshipped the created rather than the creator, they became spiritually and physically impoverished. And until we know Him intimately and live according to His divine commands, no matter what our net worth is, we will not have truly found ourselves successful. 

We too have been invited into a promised land. A land flowing with milk and honey. A land free from the attacks of our enemies. A land free from the persecution of Christians, attacks of Satan, and burdens of this life. A land where we are to build our treasures. A land of rest from all the struggles of this life. A perfect land where no chains, bonds, or strongholds exist. This promise land is given to all who put their stock in Jesus. For all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved and inherit the kingdom of God. 

When Jesus becomes your greatest treasure, there, you will have found success. 

Father, may we find our success in knowing your Son and holding fast to your word. May we hold fast to you, our very source of life. Amen. 

James 4:10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.