Success is something every father wants for his children and what we all aspire to achieve in one form or another. Mothers want to be successful; parents want to be successful. We want our children to be successful in careers or employment. We all hope for the day when a reward will come to assure us that we have been recognized or rewarded for our efforts and hard work. There is nothing wrong with that God-given desire but we need to guard that it does not become an addiction of covetousness or greed. But what is true success? I believe we have lost our bearings today about what is true success. I want to begin by saying any success without God in the equation is not true success. Without God, you will be a looser in the end regardless of how much wealth you accumulate or assets you amass. 1 Timothy 6:7 gives an important truth: “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.”
I want to point you to the one and only criteria for true success. Again, it is in the authoritative book—the Bible—on life and living, from the One who matters. Some wise words from Paul: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only but unto all them also that love His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8). Underlining mine.
This verse is written by a man who was in prison for his faith, awaiting execution by one of the worst Roman dictators who ever lived. This dictator was Emperor Nero who delighted in throwing Christians into arenas with gladiators and ferocious lions. The man who wrote the above words in 2 Timothy was beheaded by Nero. Known as the Apostle Paul, or just Paul, he was one of the most educated men in the Jewish world, with citizenship in both Israel and Rome. He gave his life for the cause of the gospel. Before he was converted to Christ, he had a coveted position in the ruling class of the Sanhedrin. He was like a modern-day terrorist, hunting and ordering the murder of Christians. However, his life and purpose for living was dramatically changed after his encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus. That same encounter has changed countless thousands of people on the roads of life but the end is always the same—a changed life.
Since doing my interview with and article about Jimmy Pattison, I went to preach for the Moose Jaw Baptist Church one weekend. While there, I mentioned that article in the Prince Albert Shopper and how to find it if they were interested. After the service a man came up to me and said he knew about Jimmy Pattison and was familiar with the Hudson family, which was Jimmy Pattison’s in-law kin through marriage. Apparently, during a visit by Mr. Pattison to Moose Jaw, he noticed that the church parking lot was not in the best shape and told the pastor he would look after getting the parking lot paved. What a blessing to that church family. You never know who is going to be the next visitor to your church… so be friendly and hospitable. In my opinion, what Pattison did is evidence of true success: when you use what you have to be a blessing to others, especially churches.
I have also learned something else about Jimmy Pattison’s personal life that reflects true success. He is soon going to celebrate his 70th year of marriage to the same woman he met at a Bible Camp in Saskatchewan. It has been said that behind every successful man is a successful woman who helped him get there. Keeping your marriage healthy and thriving is a key to true success but it takes work for it to happen. One thing that will really help is getting wisdom from the Book of Life and direction from the Prince of Life. His name is Jesus Christ, who declared he is the way, the truth, and the life ( John 14:6). The Book of Life, the Bible, is the manual for life and living. Without it you will flounder through life like a man walking in the darkness, feeling his way along without hope, a very dangerous way to live.
Another aspect of true success is getting to the end of this life and knowing where you are going after you die. Charlie Munger, the multi billionaire partner to billionaire Warren Buffet, and known for problem solving, made the famous quote: “All I want to know is where I’m going when I die, so I’ll never go there.” Well Charlie, I have to inform you there is no way of avoiding that appointment. Charlie followed a mathematical inversion formula to help solve the most difficult problems in business. He said many problems cannot be solved forward but need to go backwards before going forward. His question about what happens when a person dies is solvable if we go backwards before we go forward. We need to go back to what our Grandfathers and Grandmothers referenced for life and for solving problems. It was the Old Book and the Old Faith, the bulwarks of the land. Only the Bible will answer the question of what happens after we die. There’s no other authority in the world that answers that question of death and what comes after. It is imperative we get this figured out on this side of death because after death it will be too late. Jesus made a very bold statement one day to a lady who had just lost her brother: “I am the resurrection and the life; he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25,26).
I read these verses years ago, before I was a born-again Christian, and wondered how a claim like this could be made by someone. I had the same questions as billionaire Charlie Munger. I wanted to know what happens to a person after they die. Can we really know we have eternal life just by believing some words in a book? I wondered if a person could really know and I determined to solve these questions. While I wrestled with these questions, I also started reading the Bible, seeking for the answers to help solve the problem. You see, I went backward before I went forward. I can say today that I know for sure when I die, I will go directly into the presence of God in heaven. That is because I know the way, the truth, and the life that has conquered death and hell. The words in the Bible are connected with the power of the Holy Spirit that makes its words living and powerful. Somebody needs to tell Charlie Munger he needs to go all the way back to the Bible before he can go forward to true success. “Then said Jesus to His disciples, “Verily I say to you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again, I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19: 23,24).
Christ also said, “What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and loose his own soul.” Jesus conquered death and so can you but you cannot do so without Him. You can be the smartest, most talented, the wealthiest or the most popular person but without Christ at the end of this life, you will lose it all and go to a place you do not want to experience. There are no believers in that place. The only way to enjoy true success is to have the God perspective on success. And there is only one way to attain eternal life. True success in life is dying and knowing for sure where you are going after you take your last breath. To know this will change your perspective on everything. I Corinthians 15:26: The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” I encourage you to seek for truth in the only book that has the answers to eternal questions.
Please join our Live Stream services at www.pabaptist.ca each Sunday at 11:00 a.m. or 6:00 p.m. or join our Zoom Bible studies from your home Tuesdays at 7:00p.m. Call email or text for a Zoom code.
The content of this article is solely the personal opinions of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Prince Albert Shopper.