5m | Feb 25, 2024

Nobody likes failing. We enjoy success; we like to achieve things, especially if others notice and cheer us on. So, what does the Bible teach us about success or being successful?

In the Old Testament, we learn of individuals finding success as they prayed and trusted God for help. Abraham’s servant found success in finding a wife for Isaac. We are told that Joseph was successful in everything he did in Egypt – even during his years in captivity. The book of Proverbs tells us that The Lord “holds success in store for the upright” (Prov 2: 7)

Interestingly, the word doesn’t exist in the New Testament!

However, the New Testament does have a lot to say about fruitfulness.

Now, the New Testament doesn’t suggest that success is a bad thing (God often does help us to do things well), but the New Testament’s emphasis on fruitfulness does show us (as members of the body of Christ) how our Father in Heaven invites us into His purposes and how He loves it when we bear fruit for the Kingdom of God.

Jesus put it like this: “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15: 8). 

Much fruit. 

What is the fruit he wants us to bear? What does it look like?

One obvious answer is found in Paul’s letter to the Galatians 5: 22, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” God wants to grow and develop those characteristics in our hearts, and it is an ongoing process throughout our lives.

How does He do it? Well, one way is through difficulties, trials, challenges, suffering. James 1: 2 – 4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

That sounds like good, spiritual fruit to me.

The second type of fruit is together fruit. God wants churches (or Christians working together) to be fruitful.

In Mark chapter 4, we read the famous parable of the Sower, the analogy of sowing God’s Word into different environments. Verse 20 is a description of fruitfulness: “Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”

A few verses later, Jesus shares another parable. “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”

When the kingdom of God is present, when God’s Word lands on good soil, there is fruitfulness. There is natural growth. Sometimes, we may not even be able to explain it. But it happens.

When the soil of believers serving the Lord together is right, in a good and healthy environment, the plant will just grow naturally, and healthily – first the stalk, then the head…


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4-minute Devotions - the Podcast