October 17

The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but man is tested by the praise he receives. Proverbs 27:21, NIV

Of all the temptations we pass through in life, success is among the strongest and the hardest to resist. When we are praised and congratulated, we are likely to forget how weak we are and how dependent on God. We might even believe that we ourselves are truly great. Success can make us shift the foundation from which we live – we shift it back onto ourselves and away from God. It is for this reason that many people fail after reaching their goal in life. They find, not success, but disappointment. The answer is to realise that nothing can satisfy me except the fellowship with God that empowered me to attain my goals. This is why the Bible warns us that we are not to boast in our human abilities (flesh). We are to boast in the Lord alone. A person who is still climbing has to be disciplined and to carry only essential equipment. A person who has arrived is settling down to enjoy his achievements. One of the most remarkable facts about the ministry of the apostle Paul is that he never stayed around for long when he was successful. He always moved on to fresh territory, where he was unknown and where he had to earn the love and respect of people from scratch. Starting from scratch means that your trophies are meaningless to those around you – you are a nobody, and your pride in past achievements is irrelevant to those you meet. In other words, you are forced to be truly yourself, and not any image that people have in their minds. But this is what we are to be at all times and in all places, and blessed is the man or woman who can resist the temptation to glory in the praise they receive, and instead pass it on to the One who truly deserves it.