Relatively speaking, most people want to be successful in life. What that success looks like is dependent upon the individual. Even among Christians, there are extremely different views on the topic, which prompt a lot of questions such as:
- What defines Christian success?
- Is success a sin?
- What is success from God’s perspective?
- What does the bible say about success and prosperity?
As a Christian woman desiring to be successful in life, I too, have asked these same questions at some point. And, upon careful study from the Bible, God has really changed my perspective on the topic.
In this post, we will look specifically at bible verses about success, in which we will learn exactly what success is, how to measure it, how to attain it, and even how to celebrate it – according to Scripture!
This post may contain affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure here.
- What is Success?
- What Does the Bible Say About Success?
- Celebrating Success
- God Wants Us to Be Successful Christians!
What is Success?
As stated previously, success can look like a variety of things, depending on who you ask. For some its fame. For some its fortune (money, cars, property, and other material things). For others it may be winning in life (recognition, medals, awards, and other accolades).
Still, others may define their success by their level of education or intelligence, their career or business, their talents or skillset, or even their beauty or sense of fashion.
In our modern age of social media, many measure their success by how many followers, likes, or subscribers they have.
Some of our fellow Christians, would never include any of the items mentioned above in their definition of success. Instead, they may respond with something along of the lines of ‘having your needs met by God’, or ‘making a living and taking care of your family and other responsibilities’.
In simple terms, the basic definition of success is:
- the correct or desired result of an attempt
- the accomplishment of a goal or purpose
Therefore, to some degree, we have all experienced success in one way, shape, or form. But, what does success mean as a Christian? What is God’s idea of success? How do you become successful according to the bible?
What Does the Bible Say About Success?
Before we dive in, I have to make a serious and important statement here: If you are atrue bible believing Christian (emphasis on bible believing because NOT all are, which is a post for another day), then you absolutely MUST consider what the Word of God has to say on ANY topic. Period.
I promise you, that approaching anything in life from this starting point will guarantee you success in ways that nothing else can.
1. What Success is NOT
In order to understand the biblical definition of success, let’s first take a look at what the bible says clearly is NOT success.
When Jesus was speaking to his disciples about the costs of following him, he said:
For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world [wealth, fame, success], but forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?Matthew 16:26 AMP
It’s a short and simple verse, that says so much.
Note that Jesus never says that gaining anything in this world is wrong or sinful. However, if one were to become successful to the point that he gains everything he could possibly want in the whole world, but doesn’t have a personal relationship with God (forfeits his soul), how does it benefit him?
Where is the profit in being “successful” in every area of life except in the area where it matters most? What is the point of attaining so much in this temporary life just to die, and have your soul spend eternity in hell?
Attaining everything you want in life, in the absence of a relationship with God is NOT true success.
We are so quick to look at everyone in the world around us, and be jealous of what they have. But, the truth is, if they don’t have a relationship with God, at best they will enjoy a brief period of happiness before they die. I say brief, because whether you live 5 years or 105 years, it all pales in comparison to eternity.
2. The Biblical Definition of Success
So. . . for those of us, who are Christians, that have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior, what then is success for us?
I believe Solomon said it best:
Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments,for this is the duty of all mankind.Ecclesiastes 12:13 NIV
The main goal of Christianity is to fear God (reverence, respect, and serve Him) and obey his Word! How well we do that is the true measure of success for Christians.
The problem is, just like our non-Christian counterparts we get fixated on ‘gaining the whole world’ instead of working on cultivating our relationship with God.
We chase success in all the other areas of our lives, while spiritual growth holds little to no priority for us at all.
Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.”Luke 12:15 NLT
We have a finite time on earth, and the Bible is very clear on what our priorities as Christians should be while we’re here:
- As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3 NIV)
- Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (I Corinthians 15:58 NIV)
- Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise. Making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. (Ephesians 5:15-17 NIV)
When we put God first, and seek to be successful in the area of our spiritual growth, it’s amazing what success we will begin to see in other areas of our lives as well.
3. Putting God First Brings Success in Other Areas
Our secular culture teaches us to work hard, hustle daily, and do everything we can to achieve what we want out of life. Hard work definitely has its place when it comes to success, and it too is a biblical concept. However, I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “work smarter, not harder”. And, as a Christian, the “smart” way to achieve success is by working with God.
You see, when we shift our perspective of what success is from living to please only ourselves, to living to please God first and foremost, God tends to take care of all the other areas in the process:
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.Matthew 6:33 NIV
He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless.Proverbs 2:7 NIV
Here are several great examples of people who put God first and were successful in other areas of their lives as a result:
- Joshua: Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (Joshua 1:7-8 NIV)
- King Uzziah: He sought God during the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God. As long as he sought the Lord, God gave him success. (II Chronicles 26:5 NIV)
- Joseph: The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did. (Genesis 39:23 NIV)
- David: In everything he did he had great success, because the Lord was with him. (I Samuel 18:14 NIV)
- King Hezekiah: And the Lord was with him; he was successful in whatever he undertook. (II Kings 18:7 NIV)
4. Maintain a Biblical Perspective Regarding Success
In light of all this, it’s so important to maintain a biblical perspective regarding success, especially when everything and everyone in the world around us tells us to do otherwise.
The truth is God wants our focus to be on Him and His will for our lives, remembering that because our lives on earth are temporary, we should be storing up treasures for the life to come.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.Matthew 6:19-21 NIV
Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above [the heavenly things], not on things that are on the earth [which have only temporal value].Colossians 3:2 AMP
We can’t allow temporal things to become such a measure of success that we forget about the things God desires from and for us.
For example, if we begin to view acquiring money and wealth as such a measure of success that we begin to love it, then it becomes something that can lead us away from God. It can even cause us to wander from the faith.
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.I Timothy 6:10 NIV
I think we can all agree that anything that causes you to wander from the faith should not be deemed a “success story”.
At the end of the day, we would all do well to remember that God doesn’t owe us anything, but we owe Him everything. When we keep this in mind, we can maintain a healthy and biblical perspective when it comes to success.
Another important thing to point out here, is the success we often overlook. How often in our pursuit of material things, do we forget the things God blesses us with, and the success He gives us simply because we are Christians.
I don’t know about you, but I would consider the fact that we have God’s love, strength, provision, peace, and protection a huge success!
Here are just a few bible verses about success of this nature:
- So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10 NIV)
- And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19 NIV)
- What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:31-32 NIV)
- No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39 NIV)
- I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33 NIV)
5. Pray For Success
In line with keeping things in perspective, it’s also important that we realize that we can and should pray for success. In fact, the bible teaches that we should include God in our planning, so it only makes sense that we talk to Him in regards to the areas in which we want to be successful.
Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.Proverbs 16:3 NIV
Here are several great examples of praying for success:
- Then he prayed, “Lord, God of my master Abraham, make me successful today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. (Genesis 24:12 NIV)
- Lord, save us! Lord, grant us success! (Psalms 118:25 NIV)
- Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man. (Nehemiah 1:11 NIV)
- May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands. (Psalm 90:17 NIV)
- Always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. (Romans 1:10 ESV)
- Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request. (2 Chronicles 4:10 NIV)
Once you make it a habit to start putting God first, and including Him in your plans, it only becomes natural to also pray throughout the journey for success.
Once we start to experience success in different areas of our lives, it is inevitable that we will want to celebrate. And, when it comes to celebrating success, there are five key biblical principles that I encourage you to live by:
1. Track Your Success
Whether it’s your spiritual walk with God, or your journey to pursue a master’s degree, buy a house, get out of debt, launch your new business, or lose 25 pounds, it’s important to track your progress along the way.
For example, when it comes to success in the area of our spiritual growth, it is a lifelong process. It doesn’t matter how long you have been a Christian, God is constantly working on us to be more Christ-like and will continue to do so until we join Him in heaven.
Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.Philippians 1:6 NIV
Tracking our progress is a huge motivational factor to keep us moving in the right direction. It shows us what God has done, and gets us excited to see what He is going to do next in our lives!
2. Celebrate Victories Along the Way
The actual act of celebrating is the fun part. It’s when we literally take some time to acknowledge and rejoice about our progress. And we should celebrate ALL the victories along the way – whether big or small.
Some ideas for celebrating are:
- share the news with others (accountability partners, family, friends)
- make it an event – throw a “progress party”
- treat yourself to a “cheat” day – go off your diet, have a drink, skip the gym, or take a “mental health day” off from work
- go and do something you enjoy
3. Always Give God Praise For Your Success
No matter how you choose to celebrate, always give praise and thanks to God for your success. It’s only by His power and grace that we do what we do.
Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.Psalm 126:2-3 NIV
But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.Deuteronomy 8:18 NIV
4. Honor God With Your Success
Giving God praise and thanks for your success is one thing, but honoring God with your success is quite another.
Honoring God with our success is two-fold:
- Staying committed to God and continuing to serve Him regardless of how successful we become
- Using what God has blessed us with to bless others (i.e. giving to a ministry/charity from your wealth, operating your business with integrity)
This passage from Deuteronomy is one of my favorite bible verses about success, that I believe best illustrates the attitude we can develop if we DON’T honor God with our success:
Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. He led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you. You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.”Deuteronomy 8:11-17 NIV
It’s so easy to get side-tracked and so caught up in success that we end up forgetting about God all together, and even becoming prideful by attributing our success to our own power and strength (hence the warning about the love of money, from the verse we looked at earlier).
5. Celebrate the Success of Others
Last, but certainly not the least, I believe nothing shows humility and love when it comes to success like celebrating the success of others – regardless of whether or not we ourselves have attained success.
Our flesh and the world around us, tells us to be jealous and envious when others succeed and do well; especially when they are seemingly doing much better than we are in certain areas of life. But the Bible teaches us to do otherwise:
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.Romans 12:15 NKJV
Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.Philippians 2:4 NLT
As Christians, having a proper biblical view about success, means always being willing to celebrate the success of others, regardless of our own level of success.
God Wants Us to Be Successful Christians!
So, from all the bible verses about success that we’ve looked at, do you think God want us to be successful?
Yes, He does!
Regardless of your ethnicity, gender, background, profession, education level, social status, bank account balance, or where you live, as a Christian, God wants you to be successful in Him. Thankfully, God’s measure of success is NOT dependent on any of the ways that the world measures success.
The world says get an education, go to college, get a high paying job so you can make a ton of money, buy anything you want, do what you want, when you want, how you want, and you will be successful; there is no need for God.
But, the bible says, seek God first and foremost, learn and obey His Word, commit your goals to Him, include Him in everything you do, and He will bless you and give you success spiritually, and in all other aspects of your life as well.
The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].John 10:10 AMP
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.Galatians 6:9 NLT
For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.Psalm 84:11 ESV
Don’t miss out on the true blessings of this life. Don’t get so caught up in the world around us, that you start to adapt secular ways of living and thinking, and neglect your relationship with God, keeping yourself from truly living and enjoying life the way He intended.
We all know life is short, and tomorrow is not promised to anyone. So whether its a work day, vacation day, the weekend, or you’re sick and shut in – make every day count as a success by spending time with God, living for Him, and truly enjoying life! That my friend is true success.
- 19 Bible Verses About Planning With God
- 18 Bible Verses About Enjoying Life As A Christian
- 30 Bible Verses About Spending Time With God
- 8 Fundamental Ways to Overcome Distractions As A Christian
- 5 Essential Steps to Develop Self-Discipline As A Christian
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