Jesus at the beginning of His earthly ministry taught His disciples a new way of life. What He taught was revolutionary, unheard of, unthinkable, and even stupid from human perspectives. Yet that is God’s standard and it remains unchangeably the same. As believers, we must continue to go by God’s measuring standard in all our endeavors and standout as shining examples. Ultimately, His measuring yardstick is not how long we live but our commitment to His will. That is true success that is time tested and will last, through rain or sunshine.
People of the world define success in terms of achieving goals, acquiring wealth, and having prestige, favor, status, and power. “Successful” people enjoy the “good life” being financially & emotionally secure, surrounded by admirers, and enjoying the fruits of their labor. Their example is emulated and their accomplishments are noticed. This definition deals with the “here and now” of this life. Even in many churches today the definition of success is in terms of numbers, size, money and prestige, instead of building lives.
However success is measured differently by God. His measure involves our obedience and faithfulness to Him, regardless of opposition and personal cost. It is about whether or not we are being loyal to Him in our personal relationship and in our life, and whether we are accomplishing His goals & purposes for our life. Let us learn from the story of king Jeroboam in 1 Kings 14.
Jeroboam’s house is not the place to find anything that was pleasurable to God. He had been favoured of God in having the ten tribes of Israel committed to his trust. God in His goodness had said to him, ” as for you, I will take you, and you will rule over all that your heart desires; you will be king over Israel.” (1 Kings 11: 37). Alas! When Jeroboam came to the throne, he says in his heart, ” Jeroboam thought to himself, “The kingdom will now likely revert to the house of David. If these people go up to offer sacrifices at the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem, they will again give their allegiance to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah. They will kill me and return to King Rehoboam” (1 Kings 12: 26, 27). His thoughts proved that he was not resting on God’s word. His Word should have been enough for him, and if he had difficulties, surely he should have again consulted the Lord through the prophet Ahijah by whom God’s word had first come to him. (Can we see ourselves in this picture?)
There was no surer way of bringing upon him the displeasure and judgment of God than that of introducing afresh the idolatry that caused three thousand souls to perish at the foot of Mount Sinai. Yet in this same setting, God found something good, Abijah in the son of Jeroboam.
Young prince’s name was a suitable one, meaning “Jehovah is my Father”, and what a fitting testimony. In this child “some good thing toward the Lord God of Israel;” was found, but what was it? Some conjectures: Though the child’s faith is not mentioned, we are sure that he had faith in the living God, for “without faith it is impossible to please God.” He was a child believer in Jehovah, the God of Israel: perhaps his mother left him at his own request to go to the Lord’s prophet about him. The child believed in the great invisible God, who made the heavens and the earth, and he worshipped Him in faith. Obviously, this child showed an early affection towards the unseen Jehovah, and distaste for the idols of his father’s court. Maybe he displayed a holy horror of the worship of God under the figure of a calf. We do not know exactly the form it took, but there it was: “some good thing” was in the child’s heart towards Jehovah, God of Israel. The young Abijah possessed something within him sufficiently real and substantial to be called a “good thing.
It was not God’s purpose that Abijah should reign in his father’s stead on the throne of Israel, but, that having manifested the good work of God, he should be “taken away from the evil to come” (Isaiah 57: 1), and so “Abijah the son of Jeroboam fell sick.”. Jeroboam did not consult the gods of gold that he had made, but rather sent to Ahijah the prophet who had told him that God had chosen him to reign over Israel.
God would not allow the child to pass through the awful judgment to be poured out upon his father’s house; He would take him from among those who had proved themselves to be unfit to bear rule among His people on earth. In worldly terms, Abijah is to be pitied. He died young. But in the Lord’s judgment, he was the only person in his father’s house who was pleasing. Others in the house of Jeroboam lived to adulthood. They fought battles. They ruled the country. They did things that would have been considered noteworthy, but they all ended badly according to the Scriptures. (1Kings 14:10-11) But only Abijah, the one who died young, pleased the Lord.
Brethren, what is our standard of success? What goals are most important to us? What accomplishments please us in our relatives? Do we seek long life, material wealth, human notoriety, or do we seek to please the Lord? To consider more recent examples, Idi Amin lived twenty plus years longer than Abraham Lincoln, exactly twice as long as Martin Luther King Jr. Which was the more successful life? The true measure of a life is not a matter of days and years but of commitment to God’s will. Abijah died young, but was pleasing to the Lord. Whether we live long or die young, may it be said of us that “the Lord found something pleasing” in us
“In the final analysis, God’s measure of success involves our obedience and faithfulness to Him, regardless of opposition and personal cost. His measure of success is whether or not we are being loyal to Him in our personal relationship and in our life. We ought to see our Christianity as a religion of faithfulness rather than an idolatry of achievement.”