Now may the God of peace himself make you completely holy and may your spirit and soul and body be kept entirely blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thes. 5:23)

What is our best hope in this life?

Is it success, friendships, respect, and health?

Is it power, control, dominance, and even, perhaps, vindication or revenge?

The common indicators of success in the world relate to the three baser fallen human instincts: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – all of which are passing away (1 John 2:16). Yet we still are drawn to these unholy three in many ways. The book of Proverbs, by the way, provides a wonderful description of a truly successful person, and how to keep financial rewards in the proper perspective. While a good person may be financially successful, financial success has a way of distracting us from God, so much so that God said, “The love of money is a root to all evil” (1 Tim. 6:10 – see also Matt. 6:19-24).

The cause of so much unhappiness, dissatisfaction, and worry in the world is that we focus too much on money and possessions. To provide for the safety, well-being, and advancement of our families, of our loved ones, is a worthy goal, what we should do (1 Tim. 5:8). But true success is more than just this or mostly this, and we should pass along to our children not only the value of hard work but also the much superior importance of holiness and love of God.

In the closing words of 1 Thessalonians, Paul expresses his hopes and wishes for the believers, and in so doing he provided for them and for us an inspired aspiration for God’s people. The desires is that we may be kept entirely blameless in our entire being until the coming of Christ, or until our going to meet Him through death.

The greatest aim for our personal success should always be that we are focusing on the things of God, upon our obligations toward Him, upon His works of grace within us, upon our eternal destination. What people think of us here on earth is important to us, and rightfully so to a limited degree. A good and godly reputation was an important factor in the choosing of church leaders (Acts 6:3). Though this fallen world’s value system is never what it should be, and though we may be misunderstood and misjudged by this world (Heb. 11:38), it is still of some consideration to our hearts (Prov. 16:7), but only in a limited way.

But what God thinks of us, and how His holy people assess us, are of supreme importance to our souls. Our aspirations should first be heavenly – to be blameless in our lives, to live by the ethics and priorities of God’s eternal kingdom, to be obedient to His Word, to follow the leading of His Spirit, to fulfill His plan for our lives, to run well the spiritual race marked out for us.

It is worth noting that the verbs in this verse all point to God as the one who does the action: He makes us completely holy and He preserves us blameless. His Spirit works to draw us increasingly closer to His heart, to lead us in increasing fashion to find joy and peace in obeying Him. It is not that we have nothing to do in this matter – we must surrender, obey, and follow Him – but the work is essentially His to begin and to complete (Phil. 1:6 and 1 Thes. 5:24). The Christian faith is about God changing our hearts and not just about us trying to be outwardly obedient to do what we don’t want to do (Phil. 2:13).

Oswald Chamber’s devotion for today (Oct. 21) stressed the importance of doing this every day, of being exceptional in ordinary things, not just doing exceptional things:

Discipleship is built entirely on the supernatural grace of God. Walking on the water is easy to impulsive pluck, but walking on dry land as a disciple of Jesus Christ is a different thing. Peter walked on the water to go to Jesus, but he followed Him afar off on the land. We do not need the grace of God to stand crises, human nature and pride are sufficient, we can face the strain magnificently; but it does require the supernatural grace of God to live twenty-four hours in every day as a saint, to go through drudgery as a disciple, to live an ordinary, unobserved, ignored existence as a disciple of Jesus. It is inbred in us that we have to do exceptional things for God; but we have not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things, to be holy in mean streets, among mean people, and this is not learned in five minutes. (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest)

Have you chosen the more important matters as your life goals? Have you placed as of first importance to your heart to know Christ? (Phil. 3:8) Have you desired, more than wealth, power, and prestige, to live blameless before Him? This is the measure of true success in life. Only His kingdom is eternal.

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