“And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved” (Acts 28:24)
“Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.” – Francis Chan
Success is such a tricky word. What do I actually mean by success? How do I know if I’ve been successful or not? According to what criteria am I measuring success? All of these questions relate to any arena of life, but they also apply to our shared life together as a church. What does it mean for us to be successful? How do we know if we’ve been successful or not? According to what criteria are we measuring success?
Jump over to Acts 28:24 and suddenly this question of success takes on new clarity. Here we have the apostle Paul, in the very epicentre of the known world (Rome) and his success rate is “some were convinced … but others disbelieved”. When I read these words, it sounds to me like someone who is middle of the pack, an average Joe. Yet I wonder if we’re measuring success wrongly. I wonder if we’re confusing success with unhindered advance. I wonder if the picture of success we try to overlay on Christianity is the silicon valley start-up that goes from back bedroom to world domination in 2-3 years. If so, Paul’s not very successful at all, at least not in Rome.
However, if we equate success with faithfulness (Heb 10:23; 2 Cor 5:7; Gal 5:22-23; 2 Cor 10:12-13; John 14:1), that willingness to follow our Lord in both bountiful and arid seasons – then may be the picture of the Apostle Paul in Acts 28 is success. This is because he is being faithful to the call of God upon his life to go to Rome and be a faithful witness, regardless of the outcome! Faithfulness is putting your hand to the things in front of you that God has given you to do. It’s not focusing on the success rate, but rather, on the diligence to do everything to the glory of God.
So, am I being faithful, right now, with the things that God has given me to put my hands to? What about you? Don’t deflect the question by thinking about all the things you hope to be doing in the future. What about now? Are you faithful in serving right now? Are you?
Father God, thank you for today. Forgive me for the times when I’ve held up a wrong view of success! Help me rather to live faithfully for you in the here and now. Whatever you have put before me today I want to be faithful in doing. Amen