Success: It's Not What You Might Think

If there was ever an epitaph to envy it would be this one: "He was great in the sight of the Lord."

When the birth of John, who would be called "The Baptist," was born, the angel who delivered the announcement to his father, Zecariah, was told: "…he will be great in the sight of the Lord" —Luke 1:15, NIV.

John's birth, and the circumstances leading up to it, were miracles. Humanly speaking, he should not have been, but as the angel said to his cousin, Mary, "…nothing is impossible with God" —Luke 1:37, NIV.

We know nothing about John's childhood except the terse words of Luke 1:80 that say: "And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the desert until he appeared publicly in Israel."

John was a bizarre figure in Israel. His form of dress would have definitely put him on anyone's worst dressed list. His eating habits, while healthy, would not have made him anyone's popular dinner guest. Perhaps these idiosyncrasies were part of his appeal. His message was startling and in-your-face: "He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins"—Luke 2:3, NIV. He also clearly announced the coming of the Sent One from God, the Christ. That was his mission in life. He was the Lord's "advance man."

His mission lasted some six months. Then King Herod, disgusted that John should criticize him for marrying his brother's wife, threw him in jail. There he would die a martyr's death.

In our modern context, John might not be considered much of a success. He was the perfect example of a "flash-in-the-pan." But God's judgment differs from ours. The angel had told his father that: "…he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" —Luke 1:15- 17, NIV.

The Lord Jesus commended his cousin for his ministry and character: "I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist…" —Matthew 11:11, NIV.

Success is a much sought after commodity in our society. We invest a great deal to achieve it, often at a higher cost than it is worth. Most of the time we look for it in the wrong place, for the wrong reasons, to satisfy the wrong people. The lesson from John's life is a simple one: Success is found in God's pronouncement made to the one who fulfills God's mission for his life: "Well done, good and faithful servant!" —Matthew 25:21, NIV .

No one could desire, or should desire, more than that.


  1. Amen and Amen!! Thank you for sharing this awesome article!


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