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A Word For You: The Spiritual Danger of Success

There is a hidden danger lurking out there. You never know when it will strike. Few are even aware of it. Its strike may even go unnoticed at first. Then, when it’s too late, you’ll realize it got you. But by then your faith may be destroyed, sin has multiplied, and you’re snared in an inescapable trap.

What is this unnoticed, lurking danger that can ruin faith?

It’s the danger of success.

Now, if you‘re like me, success is a pretty rare thing! I have had a couple of moments of success and inevitably I will take a fall shortly thereafter.

There have been a number of job successes where I absolutely nailed it. I get a big head. Come home and get mad that my family doesn’t respect the awesomeness that is me.

There have even been some sporting successes in my life. A game-winning hit seems like such a good thing. But then I flaunt it and end up acting like a jerk to the losing team of nice old Baptist guys in church league softball. Oops.

Sometimes you just have a day where you feel good. You’re not sick, you have no major pains, things are clicking. Your exuberant energy, typically not there, ends up making you into a spasmodic annoyance. You even begin to think your health and well-being is due to your awesome intellect that figured out how to be awesomely healthy.

The Bible has many stories of people who had success, only to completely blow it.

David, after years of conquering many kings, stays home and gets himself messed up in adultery and murder (2 Samuel 11). Later in life, he glories over his massive kingdom and all the people in it. After his proud census, judgment came (2 Samuel 24).

Solomon lives at the pinnacle of Jewish blessing, yet through his carelessness, his nation is divided (1 Kings 11:1-14).

Nebuchadnezzar looks at the amazing kingdom he built; everything was going so well and looked so good! Within weeks he’s crawling on all fours eating grass like a wild animal (Daniel 4).

Hezekiah was going to die but God healed him. This led him to show off all his treasures to the enemy, who later came and took all that treasure away (Isaiah 39).

As a pastor, I have people call me all the time asking me to pray for them. Typically these prayers surround health problems, money problems, family problems, and various other problems. I am more than happy to pray for such things, as they do deserve our prayers.

However, it’s been a long time since someone asked me to pray for them because their job was going so well. Yet how many times do promotions lead to spiritual destruction as you’re taken out of the home more and begin spending new-found money?

Do you pray for help when you are feeling good? Good health can make us insensitive to those who are hurting. It can lead to pride and judgmentalism. Do you pray for help when you are doing well financially? The Bible has more warnings about being rich than about being poor.

You have to be careful with everything in life. Satan is a deceiver and he can use any event, good, bad or indifferent, to get you to trip. Pain has a way of getting our attention. Success has a way of numbing us to danger.

I’m not telling you not to appreciate the good stuff. Be thankful for all things. At the same time know that success is often more dangerous than failure.

Pride goes before destruction,
and a haughty spirit before a fall.
It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor
than to divide the spoil with the proud.

–Proverbs 16:18-19

Prayer Requests:

Pray for humility and meekness no matter how things are going externally.

Pray for sensitivity and awareness of other people to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice.

Pray for protection no matter how safe or in danger you think you are.

Pray for the ability to be content in no matter what state you are in.