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By J. Stephen Lang -- Norman Vincent Peale defined success as "the development of a mature and constructive personality." This is certainly closer to the Bible's view than most people's. We usually define success in terms of money, power, influence -- and being envied, of course. This is not the view of the Bible. In fact, the New Testament assures Jesus' followers that they may endure hardship -- but not necessarily success in the usual sense.

Don't let this discourage you. Our Lord did not tell us to give up all the pleasures of the world. He merely told us that there were higher, better things -- things that would last forever, and things that make worldly success seem trivial. Jesus proved this at the beginning of his earthly ministry, when he was tempted to make himself a worldly success:

Jesus was led out into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to be tempted there by the Devil.

The Devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him the nations of the world and all their glory. "I will give it all to you," he said, "if you will only kneel down and worship me."

"Get out of here, Satan," Jesus told him. "For the Scriptures say, `You must worship the Lord your God; serve only him.'"

Matthew 4:1, 8-10

Jesus answered, "I am not an earthly king. My Kingdom is not of this world."

John 18:36

"How do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul in the process? Is anything worth more than your soul?"

Matthew 16:26

Those in frequent contact with the things of the world should make good use of them without becoming attached to them, for this world and all it contains will pass away.

1 Corinthians 7:31

Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is.

Romans 12:2

Where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world's brilliant debaters? God has made them all look foolish and has shown their wisdom to be useless nonsense. Instead, God deliberately chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose those who are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important, so that no one can ever boast in the presence of God.

1 Corinthians 1:20

God purchased you at a high price. Don't be enslaved by the world.

1 Corinthians 7:23

God forbid that I should boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world died long ago, and the world's interest in me is also long dead. What counts is whether we really have been changed into new and different people. May God's mercy and peace be upon all those who live by this principle. They are the new people of God.

Galatians 6:14-16

Tell those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone. But their trust should be in the living God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment.

1 Timothy 6:17

Don't you realize that friendship with this world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again, that if your aim is to enjoy this world, you can't be a friend of God.

James 4:4

Stop loving this evil world and all that it offers you, for when you love the world, you show that you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only the lust for physical pleasure, the lust for everything we see, and pride in our possessions. These are not from the Father. They are from this evil world. And this world is fading away, along with everything it craves. But if you do the will of God, you will live forever.

1 John 2:15

"Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who despise their life in this world will keep it for eternal life."

John 12:25

The Book of God's Promises -- Copyright, 1999 by J. Stephen Lang. All rights reserved, used with permission.

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