Saturday, September 03, 2005

Progress and Success

Many Christians in the west seem to have become queasy about success. If success become an idol or our source of meaning, it is dangerous; but success is also something we need to get used to. The Holy Spirit contains all the personality and power of the living God. If we hang around with him, we are bound to experience some success. If we obey God, he will often bless what we do. There is nothing wrong with being successful in godly endeavors; the challenge is remembering that the success is his and not ours. The problem is not with success, but our taking credit for the works of the Holy Spirit.

Paul’s strength was that he had learned to cope with both success and failure. When he was successful, he thanked God. When he failed he still trusted God.

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being ontent in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want (Phil 4:11,12).

His attitude to success and failure gave him the peace that transcends understanding.

Those who are grouchy about progress seldom find a cave and live there on self-sown Indian corn. They generally continue to use the benefits of progress, even if they are unable to enjoy them.

The great irony is that most people living in the third world need a great deal more progress and prosperity to lift them out of poverty and squalor. It is a bit rich for those who are have benefited from progress to stop it before others can experience the benefits. Telling people stuck in poverty and sickness that prosperity and progress are dangerous is unfair.

No American or European is forced to be prosperous. The solution for those who find themselves too prosperous is simple: just give some wealth away. No one is forced to buy things. If you are being sucked into hedonism, you do not have an incurable disease. This is the one disease where no harm comes from giving it away. Those who have a problem with the love of progress should find someone better to serve.

1 comment:

Lychee said...

Interesting post that clearly addresses the delicate balance between enjoying the goodness we have in life without become attached to it. This is an idea shared by Christians and Buddhists and probably most religions. Moreover, as you point out, it is a humane way to live. Thanks for the thoughts and the passage.