What is the Measure of Success for a Christian?

You’re committed to following Jesus. How’s it going? If your life continued on the trajectory it’s on now, would you look back and say you’re a success as a Christian? Would God have the same assessment? What is the measure of success for a Christian?

Looking at the way many Christians conduct themselves, it would seem they are using the world’s definition of success more than God’s. They focus on how big a church or ministry they build, how many “good works” they do, how much they know about the Bible, or how successful they are at staying away from their group’s particular “sin list.”

And God is not impressed.

Perhaps you’ve fallen into some of the same patterns. Our Western Christian culture makes that easy to do.

So what is the measure of success for a Christian? And what does it take to get there?

God’s View of Success

The way God defines success is certainly not the way humans usually do. Based on what Jesus said, success in God’s eyes is NOT doing good things (Matthew 5:20, 7:21-23) or being seen as great by others (Matthew 18:1-4). Your bank account, your physical health, or how many followers you have doesn’t factor in.

Jesus’ words paint a different picture. God cares most about the state of your heart. He defines success by how well you love Him and love others. “On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:40) He told His followers, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)

God’s original plan for you is that you “be conformed to the image of his Son.” (Romans 8:29) If you look like, walk like, talk like, work like, live like, love like, “smell” like Jesus, you are fulfilling His highest plan for you. That’s a success in His eyes.

Becoming Like Jesus

Since God cares most about us loving Him and loving others, if others know we are following Jesus by how we love each other, if we are to become like Jesus in every way, how do we get there?

You certainly can’t go off by yourself and “try harder.”

Oh, you could, but that never works. You may well have tried doing just that. But that always ends up in you nursing your very legitimate wounds, or wallowing in your own thoughts and feelings, or feeling self-righteous because you’re not “acting out” right now, or getting so super-spiritual that your “righteousness” becomes repulsive instead of becoming attractive as Jesus’ goodness was.

And you can’t love well from a distance anyway. You can’t love God and keep Him at arms’ length. You can’t love people without getting involved in their messiness.

So to become like Jesus, to be successful as a Christian, you’ve got to become and stay connected.

Connected to God.

And connected to others.

Connected to God

It’s a law of human nature that you become like the One you worship and admire. (2 Corinthians 3:18) You need to regularly put yourself in places where your attention is directed to Him, where you can “behold” His face.

You keep showing up.

Showing up in your daily quiet time with God – not as a duty, but as your daily sustenance. You continue day after day allowing your soul to be opened to the sunlight (Sonlight!), taking in the water of His Word. And like your physical garden, some days it doesn’t seem like much is happening. But you keep showing up anyway.

And you keep showing up with others where His presence is welcomed. That doesn’t mean a glitzy Christian production, though sometimes His presence is welcomed in those settings. It means you often go where other followers of Jesus are coming together to seek Him, His Person, and to become more like Him.

As you keep showing up, you keep saying Yes whenever the Holy Spirit brings something into the light that needs to change. He will continue His good work in you if you keep saying Yes. (Philippians 1:6)

Connected to Others

You will never become like Jesus if you remain disconnected from others.

People are messy. Families are messy. The family of God is messy. And if it wasn’t before, it became messy once you became a part of it!

God’s plan for your healing is through connecting with others. (James 5:16) And even more amazing, others experience measures of healing through connecting with you! Someone else needs your story of how God has worked and is working in you. You being with them becomes God’s means of transforming them into more of His image.

And if you’ve been walking with Jesus any time at all, you know how being around other people shows up the places where you still need God’s transforming grace in yourself. Where else will you learn patience, forgiveness, unselfishness, wisdom, mercy, courage, and yes, love?

How’s Your Love Life?

I’m talking about your love life with God and with other humans that He loves.

How much do you “smell” like Jesus? Do you have the same effect on people that Jesus did? Can others tell that you have been with Him? (Acts 4:13) Are you continuing to show up, and to say Yes?

And how well are you loving those God allows into your sphere of influence? Are you continuing to mature in how you allow yourself to be challenged by others, and to challenge them? Are you seeing the fruit of the Spirit show up in your interactions with people?

How are you learning to love well?

That’s the measure of success for a Christian.

Your Turn: Have you seen loving well as the measure of success for a Christian? And now, how well are you staying connected to Christ, and connected to others? Leave a comment below.

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