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doing an endzone dance October 5 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Mark 3:1-19; Matthew 12:9-21; Luke 6:6-16; Matthew 4:23-25

How To Handle Succes

A football player makes a Touch Down and does his End Zone Dance (usually practiced for just such an occasion). A businessman, politician or leader of an organization hosts a special dinner to highlight his accomplishments, policies or organization. What do these things have in common? Boasting! In our society we are told to claim success whenever and wherever we can! We should let people know of our accomplishments! Is this the way to handle success? How Jesus handled success will give us clues on how we should handle success.

Those who are successful often pay a price; they experience a lot of criticism. Jesus was criticized for healing a man's hand on the Sabbath day (This is a continuation of a theme in the October 4 lesson). From this we can learn that those who are becoming successful are often attacked. It is much like a presidential election process. Those who are competing for the high office dig up dirt on those who are successful. If we are successful we can expect dirt from the competition. How will we respond to injustice and false accusations? Jesus was angry, but he did not stop doing good because he was criticized. We should follow his example.

Those who experience success and are threatened need to think about their followers. Will they be safe or harassed? Sometimes it is necessary to take a stand, but at other times it is wise to avoid unnecessary confrontations and walk away. The latter is what Jesus did at this time. His success followed him as our successes often follow us. Do we care about those whom we lead? What will we do to protect them?

Success often brings a very busy schedule. Jesus had that, for he healed people all day long. It was very tiresome to have people thronging him on every side, wanting his attention. Some of us can relate to that. What did Jesus do? First, he created some space between him and the crowds. Second, he prayed and then appointed twelve apostles (meaning those sent forth from him) from the disciples that had been following him. Apparently, these men had been with Jesus constantly. It is hard to imagine that Jesus chose a treacherous person (Judas Iscariot) to be among them, but it was in the will of God that he did so. Many of us have chosen people, who by all appearances seemed loyal, but we later found them to be treacherous. There are always risks when we ask people to work with us. These twelve disciples (apostles) were the ones he sent out to heal and cast out demons; that is, he shared some of the workload with them. Because Jesus did this he was able to multiply his ministry. We can do the same if we will entrust some of our responsibilities to those who share our values. Finally, Jesus used the opportunity of his popularity to teach the mass of people so that they might lead successful lives of their own. Are we concerned about our own success or the success of others? Do we enable others to lead successful lives and ministries?

Did Jesus use his popularity to trumpet his success? Not at all. Jesus even told demons and people whom he healed not to tell everyone. This is amazing but true. He did not want people to make him a king (that will come later). The Bible says he did this to fulfill the Scriptures (Isaiah 42:1-4). In a translation of the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) God says of his Son,
Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he leads justice to victory. In his name the nations will put their hope, (Matthew 12:18-21, NIV).

Jesus did not make it a habit of quarreling with people. Neither did he cry out, trumpeting his success. Jesus quietly did his work. Amazing! The Son of God, the creator and sustainer of the universe, did not boast. He did not step on people to bring himself up the ladder of success. Instead, he was gentle among them like a shepherd with his sheep or a mother with hurting children: “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out,” (Matthew 12:20, NIV). Thomas Carlyle, a famous Scottish satirical writer in the Victorian era, once said, “A great man shows his greatness by the way he treats little men.” We should also be considerate as we work with people.

Lessons to live by:

  • Has success gone to our heads? If so, we need to repent! Success comes from God. We do not need to trumpet it; we just need to quietly continue being a servant. Our rewards will come soon enough.
  • We need to care about the people in our organization. Are they safe from harm and harassment? Do we seek to help people to be successful? People will love us and be loyal to us if they know we truly care about them.
  • As the burden of success increases, we need to carefully select individuals to share our work. Their help will multiply success.
  • Remember, “A great man shows his greatness by the way he treats little men,” (Thomas Carlyle). We should be considerate as we work with people.
  • Are you experiencing moral and spiritual failure in your life? Success in this area starts with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He can give you spiritual life, peace, and forgiveness. With him you can be successful (more...) .

Today’s Bible memory verse: Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (NIV)

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