What is a greater tragedy: failing, or succeeding at only things that are not important?

What is a greater tragedy: failing, or succeeding at only things that are not important?

First John 3:17

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?

What Good is it?

What good is worldly success if we don’t help our brothers and sisters out? How can we say we love God but shut them out of our lives and close our ears to their cries? It is too easy to say “I will pray for you” but then do nothing for their physical needs (James 2:16). What good is their faith? Is it even real? The point is if we have success in the world, we can still fail by not helping others, so success can actually be a great failure. To succeed at things that are not important but fail at things that are important is actually a greater tragedy. To share the gospel with someone who is lost and they reject it is seen as less of a failure than someone who’s having success in things that are not important.

Who Owns Possessions?

Maybe we can think of it this way: Many people own possessions, but I wonder if it’s not really their possessions that own them. What good are possessions on the Day of Judgment? Peter said that everything in this world will be burned up someday (2 Pet 3:7) and that our riches brought about by our earthly success will be useless after our death, when we will be judged (Heb 9:27). God even warned the successful Israelites about being tightfisted or hardhearted toward those who have little or nothing (Deut 15:7). Instead of pointing fingers at others, though, I ask myself, “How am I like this?”

What is Success?

God says that it is much better to fear God and have little than have much and have only turmoil in our life (Prov 15:16). Often Jesus used the tragedies in the lives of those who needed healing or when one of their family members had died and which was perceived as failure but then resulted in salvation for those who saw it and believed. If these families never had the tragedies of disease, demon possession, or death, they would have never had the chance to believe in Jesus Christ for eternal life. Which is greater then? Is it better to have success with no tragedies or tragedies with no success but which results in someone receiving eternal life by believing in Jesus Christ? The answer is obvious.

A Closing Prayer

Oh, my righteous Father in heaven, You know what is truly better…failing at things that are important is far better than succeeding at things that are not. Please help me to understand the difference and which is better by far. Better to fear You, oh Lord, and have little and to know You as Lord and fail in life than to have all the success in the world and not know You and Your Great Son, Jesus Christ, for that is far, far better. Thank You for your Son and His sacrifice on my behalf. I pray this in His Mighty Name.


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