What does the Bible teach about achievement?

To what extent does the Bible address the topic of achievement?

How do you think the average person on the street would describe success if you were to ask them? There would be a wide range of responses from the general public. Possessing a lot of money is often seen as a sign of success. Having a happy family and healthy children may be another person’s idea of success. Still another person may define success as the capacity to live a long and fulfilling life free from illness. If you ask ten people, you can get twenty different definitions of success.

Examining the ways in which the Bible responds to the many ways in which individuals in the modern world define success might help us get a handle on the teachings of the Bible on the subject.

According to the Bible, a person’s riches is a direct result of God’s hand. In Proverbs 22:2, it is said that “the Lord is the Maker of them all,” meaning that both the wealthy and the impoverished have this commonality. Notice how the author avoids saying “Maker of both.” His actual words are “Maker of them all.” God is said to be the source of everything and everyone in this affirmation.

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The Bible makes it clear that God is the source of every gift and talent that anyone might possess. Take into account the words of 1 Corinthians 4:7: “For who makes you to differ from everyone else? To put it another way: “What do you have that I don’t?” These inquiries suggest that we owe our talents and capabilities to the Almighty.

Is there any way to address the problem of power and influence? When Pilate says he has the authority to release or crucify Jesus, Jesus responds, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above” (John 19:11). Consequently, even the kind of earthly authority that people use to gauge their own achievement is ultimately a blessing from God.

These are only a few of the many passages that affirm God’s ownership over everything in existence. “A man can accept only what is given to him from above,” John the Baptist concludes in John 3:37. Success in any endeavor may be attributed solely to God’s grace and the grace alone is a gift from God.

It’s also possible that God places less value on the same things that we do. 1 John 2:15-17 helps us see the big picture:

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Don’t have any romantic feelings for the planet or anything in it. To love this world is to not have the love of the Father. Because the desires of corrupt man, the lust of his eyes, and the pride in his accomplishments are all products of this world and not the Father. The world and its wants will eventually fade away, but the man who does God’s will will remain forever.

Everything we would be tempted to believe in this world offers success is covered in this passage. If we love and pursue these things with the mistaken belief that we will find fulfillment and happiness in them, we will be sorely disappointed. Success can’t be gauged by material success.

The way God defines success is really straightforward. Now this is eternal life, that they may know you, the one true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3). You have shown me the way of life; You will make me full of gladness in Your presence; You will show me the path of everlasting pleasures. (Psalm 16:11) Not because the demons bow down to you, but because your names are written in the book of life, Jesus says in Luke 10:20. These verses teach us that salvation and a relationship with God are prerequisites for eternal happiness. In John 17:3, “eternal life” refers to more than just a certain amount of time, but also to a certain kind of existence. The glory of the afterlife lies in the fact that we will spend it in God’s presence, the very source of all happiness. We shouldn’t be happy with ourselves because of our successes, our success, or material belongings. Overcoming this world, being saved, and spending eternity in heaven with Jesus Christ is the kind of accomplishment we can truly celebrate.

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God uses different standards for success than the rest of the world. In his teachings, Jesus emphasized that the lowest among us are the most important (Luke 9:48; cf. Mark 9:35). True, eternal success has nothing to do with material possessions or social standing. Knowing God, and serving God, through trust in Jesus Christ and the gospel, is the biblical definition of success, and it is a success that pleases and praises God.

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