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Your Path to Success Isn't the Same as Your Neighbor's - Here's How to Know Which Path Works for You

Aug 18, 2007
A radio talk show host once asked me why I thought there was such a rush for Christians to identify themselves in the workplace as Christians. Why can't they just work and be happy with that? Why do they have to make a statement about their beliefs?

Apparently, it rubs some non-Christians the wrong way when we say we're Christians and our success comes because of our beliefs. The rub is the perceived "holier-than-thou" attitude they feel comes from the statement. And it also comes from the fact that many non-Christians attain financial success without Christianity. So the real question then becomes, "Why does God allow non-Christians to succeed?"

The truth is, as I explained on the show, biblical principles work. It doesn't matter if you're a Christian or not. If you apply the practical truths of Scripture in your life, you're far more likely to find success.

But there's more to it than this. Frankly, the world is far more shrewd (which I like to call "wisdom with an edge") than Christians. Jesus described this fact in Luke 16:8 when he said, "For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light." So it's not unheard of for non-Christians to find more success in this world than Christians. It shouldn't surprise us that non-Christians understand the ways of this world better than we do.

It also shouldn't surprise us to see non-Christians experience success -- even more success than Christians (if you define success materially). So Christians can learn an enormous amount of practical wisdom about success from non-Christians. But they must be very careful. While Christian principles will work for nonbelievers, the ways of the wicked will not work for Christians. It's not a two-way street.

That means that one of the most important things a Christian can do to be successful is to know who he is. He can't believe the lie that success comes by stealing, cheating, running over people, murder, sexual favors, or any other wickedness. While those tactics can help non-Christians achieve temporal goals in the short term, they will destroy the Christian's earthly witness and his labors in Christ's fields. God won't honor or reward actions that go completely against the new nature in which we partake (2 Peter 1:4).

A Christian also can't try to find success through the clothes he wears, the house he lives in, the car he drives, or the work he does. Proverbs 11:28 confirms this -- "Whoever trusts in his riches will fall..."

Instead, success comes through the heart of the righteous -- to the one who understands his identity and lives according to his God-given nature. And it's important for the world to know that Christians don't find (or define) success the same way it does. We can't.
About the Author
Steve Kroening writes for Success magazine and also publishes Wisdom's Edge. You can get Biblical tips on health, finance, relationships, parenting, and success, delivered to your email inbox every week. Simply visit http://www.wisdomsedge.com and sign up for this free e-zine.
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