How do we measure success in the Kingdom of God? We know how it is measured in the world: position, fame, wealth. There are not many accolades for the faithful mother and wife who successfully raised her children and supported her husband. Neither are there accolades for the faithful father and husband, who worked all his life in the mines to provide for his family. But oh how the tributes pour in for the actor, singer, dancer who accidentally took too many drugs and died. Any death is a loss to those who loved them but consider our reaction to understand how we measure success.
Success in the Kingdom looks much different than success in the world. It must when the Bible celebrates the success of a prisoner while in prison. Of course I am referring to Joseph. I think sometimes we need to put the Bible heroes in the context of today to appreciate Yahweh's methods of growing and developing individuals. We look at Joseph and we appreciate the story, we recognize the injustice, we note his attitude but we miss some significant things.
The greatest thing about Joseph was that he blossomed wherever he was, in whatever situation he faced. In each stage of his journey he met with success. He wasn't considered successful only at the top but in every moment of his life. His brothers sold him into slavery. He had every right to moan and complain but Joseph gave himself to his situation. His was faithful in his relationship with the Lord, he obeyed his master and he worked hard. Due to his attitude the Lord prospered him so that whatever he put his hand to was successful. He earned the trust and appreciation of his master. But that didn't prevent bad things from happening.
Through no fault of his own, Joseph found himself in jail. Another injustice, another opportunity to moan and complain, but instead Joseph submitted himself to his situation. Because of his incredible attitude the Lord was with him and whatever he touched prospered during the many long years of his imprisonment:
The keeper of the prison did not look into anything under authority, because the was with him; and whatever he did, the made prosper. (Genesis 39:23)
Joseph did not wait for circumstances to be favourable. He did not use any excuses. Joseph understood his relationship and responsibility to the Lord and gave himself to it. Is it any wonder that the Lord trusted him with the physical salvation of nations during the great famine? Joseph proved himself faithful in whatever circumstances he was in so the Lord was able to trust him with greater things. His heart was tested and he proved faithful.
Some people would look at this and say that Joseph was successful because he became a great and important man but that is not how we are to measure his success. Joseph was successful because of his obedience; everything else was just window dressing or the fruit of his obedience. Success in the Kingdom is not measured by our accomplishments or the prosperity of our projects. Success in the Kingdom is measured by our obedience to the Lord. It is by this obedience that the sincerity of our heart is measured.
Our obedience is not dependent on the right circumstances or the perfect opportunities. Our covenant relationship with Jesus means we vowed to love him in all situations, circumstances and opportunities. Our love is proved sincere in our obedience, no matter how hard it is to obey. The Lord is testing our heart, looking to see if we will be faithful with the small things to know if we can be trusted with the greater things. What is important is that we remain faithful and obedient in all things so that we are available to him at all times. Obedience equals success in the Kingdom of God.