Out of curiosity, I recently googled “how to be successful,” admittedly hoping to spur a life-changing revelation that would secure an outstanding semester of grad school. Through my extensive searchings (i. e. the first search result that came up), I came across an article from Entrepreneur.com entitled “7 Steps to Become Successful Sooner.” The author offered a list of helpful tips such as “set concrete goals,” “find a mentor,” and “learn from your mistakes.”
But what if I told you that the process of achieving biblical success was much less complicated than the world’s process? Plus, there are fewer steps, all of which can be seen in the life of a man named Joshua.
We find Joshua in the first chapter of his namesake book to have just received a major promotion from the Lord. Moses, the former leader of the Israelite nation, had recently died, and as Moses’ assistant, Joshua was next in line. Upon accepting the new position, Joshua would also accept a daunting new assignment–lead the Israelites to their inherited Promised Land of Canaan.
Leading a nation through the wilderness to settle in a foreign land may sound easy enough, but there was one itty-bitty obstacle. Canaan was already occupied by several civilizations consisting of heavily fortified cities. Taking over the land would mean conquering numerous nations, some mightier than the twelve tribes of Israel.
To complete this mission, God asked that Joshua follow very specific directions. Then, Joshua and the Israelites would have “good success” wherever they went (Joshua 1:7).
Be Strong and Courageous
Upon receiving his new commission, Joshua must have appeared at least slightly terrified at the idea of such a conquest because God assured him multiple times, “Be strong and courageous” and “Do not be afraid” (Joshua 1:6-9). After repeatedly giving this command to fear not, the Lord then told Joshua why fear was futile.
Even before Moses passed away, God gave Joshua a glimpse of future triumph following the Israelites’ defeat of two Amorite kings–Sihon, king of Heshbon and Og, king of Bashan. Both kings attempted to destroy Israel, but each time God granted victory to His chosen people.
He continued to guarantee victory by reminding Joshua, “Your eyes have seen all that the LORD your God has done to these two kings. So will the LORD do to all the kingdoms into which you are crossing. You shall not fear them, for it is the LORD your God who fights for you” (Deuteronomy 3:21-22).
The reason that Joshua and the nation of Israel had nothing to fear was that they would never have to fight alone. God had conquered kings’ armies in the past, and entire civilizations would crumble before Him in the future.
For Joshua and the Israelites, peace came from knowing the Conqueror would fight every battle.
What are you facing today? Perhaps you have enemies staring you down, planning your demise. Or maybe, like Joshua, you have a God-given task placed before you, but an uncertain future makes you hesitate. Don’t let the fear of failure keep you from new opportunities to serve God and others.
Whatever your situation, be strong and courageous, resting in the truth of Romans 8:31, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” The Lord will fight your battles, and hallelujah, He never loses.
Obey God’s Law
So, the first step to success–courage. Check!
Joshua 1:8 contains the next step.
“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
Obedience. To be successful, Joshua must follow God’s Law given to Moses and recorded in the first five books of the Bible (Genesis through Deuteronomy), also known as the Torah.
As one who recently began a chronological Bible reading plan and struggled her way through the seemingly endless commands in the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, I know that the impossible task of remembering and keeping all of the Torah would require more than sheer determination.
Obeying God’s laws would require consistent meditation. Joshua would have to make God’s Word an integral part of who he was and the basis for his decision-making.
How well do you know God’s Word? How often do you meditate on the truths you find there?
Don’t make the mistake of becoming flippant towards your Scripture reading. Spiritual apathy leads to spiritual failure.
Now, here’s the thing.
If you think that in exchange for your courage, obedience, and Scripture meditation God will grant you prosperous business endeavors, noteworthy achievements, or coveted fame, I’m sorry to tell you, but that’s not necessarily the case.
Nowhere in the Bible does it say that we as Christians are guaranteed physical earthly blessings or monetary rewards as a result of our faithfulness. So what then is the success promised to us?
Digging more deeply into Joshua 1:7, we see that the word used for “success” is the Hebrew word sakal, which means “to act wisely.”
The success promised Joshua was that he would make wise decisions. In other words, in God’s mind, success equals wisdom.
Wisdom is a highly esteemed quality throughout Scripture. So much so that the book of Proverbs was written by King Solomon, the wisest man to reign over Israel, as an exhortation for future generations to pursue wisdom.
Solomon wrote in Proverbs 3:
“Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called blessed” (Proverbs 3:13-18).
Wow, do you see how deeply treasured wisdom is? More precious than jewels. Better than silver and gold. The source of life, peace, honor, and happiness. This valuable virtue comes from God, and, amazingly, Christians have limitless access to it because the Lord freely offers wisdom to those who seek Him for it (James 1:5).
So, my friend, seek it. Desperately. Money, fame, and worldly achievements are fleeting. As the wisest king lamented while looking at all of the riches he had amassed throughout his lifetime, “All is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 1). Solomon knew better than anyone that success in the world’s eyes is useless compared to sakal, Joshua’s good success.