The world tells us many things about success.
We are told that real success is being rich, famous, or having a lot of things. We are told to buy the newest gadgets, seek publicity for everything we do, and to make the most money no matter what the cost.
“You could even help people if you want,” the world whispers enticingly in our ears, attempting to convince us that ends justify means.
But bionically, this is not the case.
So why should the young Christian “…seek first the kingdom of God,” as stated in Matthew 6:33? Why should we follow Christ’s call for us?
We’ll examine this below.
What Is Success?
If anyone was to teach us about success, let’s look at the rich young ruler found in Matthew 10:17-22. He was rich and had many possessions, and probably was well-known throughout the land.
Yet when news of this new teacher by the name of Jesus reached him, he not only ran to meet him but knelt at his feet! Imagine the scandal, the people whispering, “Is this not the rich and young ruler we know? Why is he bowing at the feet of a simple Nazarene?!”
On the surface, this man had it all, and according to the world, he should be happy! Yet as we see, this young man was not at all content with his situation.
“Good teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” the young man pleads, humbled before the Lord (Matt. 10:17).
To summarize Jesus’ answer, he says the only way to gain eternal life is to follow the Lord and his Word. The rich young man was quick to tell Jesus he had done all this from his childhood.
Most people would claim the young ruler’s reply to be a boast. But why would such a man come to Jesus if he knew he was doing everything he needed to? It seems highly possible, to me at least, he knew there was more to be done.
That’s another lie we can fall victim to. “You’ve been doing this since you were a kid,” the world tries to say desperately, trying to steer us away from the real answer. “You’re a good person.”
But there’s more to be done, something we’ve all been missing.
Jesus confirms this young ruler’s suspicions. “Go your way,” Jesus tells him in verse 21. “Sell whatever you have, and give to the poor…come, take up your cross and follow Me.”
Jesus was telling this young man he had too much! Too much to make him happy, and too much he didn’t need.
What he actually needed was to follow Jesus, no matter the hardships.
Joy Requires Sacrifice
Isn’t it the same today?
We are told, “Buy this! It’s brand new, you can’t be happy without it!”
This is the Cultural Consumerism Lie. Most people who have money, fame, and all the new things are absolutely miserable.
Jim Carey is even famously quoted saying:
“I wish everyone could be rich and famous, so they could see it’s not the answer.”
The rich young ruler, we are told, left rather sorrowful at the news of what eternal life costs. But it interests me that we are never told he didn’t do as Jesus said.
True joy may not come at an easy cost, I think we can all observe, but it is more than worth the sacrifice.
Fellow believers, let us always remember that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…” (Proverbs 9:10). The fruit of the world may be sweet for now, but it is really a poison to our souls.
But the fruit of the Spirit, farmed by hard work and discipline in following Jesus’ example, is where true success and happiness lies.
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