As I mentioned in the previous post, The Lord has been speaking to me about two things lately: success and relationships. I am pretty sure that they are related. As a follower of Jesus, I wrestle with the word “success”. What does it mean? Is it a godly thing or a worldly thing? Is it both? How do you measure it?
Maybe the question I should ask is: How does God measure it? Then, I would know that it is a good and godly thing.
I wonder if it would mean loving your neighbor as yourself? Wherever you are, whatever you do, are you loving the person right in front of you?
And yes, your actual neighbors count to. I know this is not easy because sometimes our neighbors are really difficult people to love. Most of the time, it is easier to love the stranger at the grocery store than the person who is constantly in our lives. A stranger hasn’t had the chance to hurt us yet. They haven’t messed up in our relationship or had a chance to let us down.
I had a talk recently with some friends from church. We were being open about what the Lord was doing in our lives or teaching us and I shared that God had told me that I had not forgiven someone. I was struggling. I think the struggle was not so much that the other person was “wrong” but that there was no chance for reconciliation. In my life, when I have a disagreement with someone or when I do the wrong thing or say the wrong thing, I seek forgiveness and reconciliation. This was not happening in this situation. I realized that it wasn’t between me and this individual anymore though. It was just between me and God. I had to forgive this person regardless of if they would ever realize that what they had done was wrong or if we would ever speak again.
My friend and pastor said something that I had not considered before. He said that all of the fruits of the spirit are related to relationship: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control. The fruits of the spirit are not based on our intellect, knowledge, wisdom or even discernment. The fruits of the spirit aren’t about what we know but about who we are.
This was a beautiful revelation for me.
As I’ve wrestled with the definition of success and a desire to be successful – I keep looking to the world and comparing myself. I know this is killing my soul. I shouldn’t compare myself to anyone else. And I shouldn’t give in to the world’s definition of success and think I should have a certain job or amount of money or influence.
Instead of defining success by these standards, I should ask myself: Does my character reflect Christ? Do I love my neighbor, my family members, and the parents in the PTA or the kids on the soccer team? In my life and relationships do I pursue love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, goodness, gentleness and self-control?
I know that I am going to mess up sometimes. I always do. But I can say “I’m sorry” and I can forgive and I can reconcile. I can talk it out instead of going to my room and slamming the door. And the times when it really isn’t between me and another person anymore – it’s just between me and God, I can go to Him and find comfort, and healing, and forgiveness.
Maybe to love and to be loved is all one really needs to be successful.