None Above Him
There's a lot of competition in our world. Competing for sports trophies, job titles, political position, social status, monetary success, and so much more. Competing starts at the most basic level- our kids fighting over a toy, or mom's lap, or the last bag of fruit snacks. This competitive nature, of course, is natural to all of us. From the beginning, when Adam and Eve first sinned, the result came from the desire for control. The desire to compete for "who was in charge". And, in that competitive control, mankind was doomed to sin and death.
Our world hasn't changed much. People are still fighting for control. Fighting for control of government, fighting for control in families, fighting for control over relationships, fighting for control over our bodies, fighting for control over what makes us happy, fighting, competing, striving.
But, for what? And why?
Essentially, when you and I desire something, we do what we can to obtain that desire. We perform certain tasks, talk to certain people, discipline ourselves in certain ways in order to achieve that desire.
For example, someone may desire a certain title (in government, in their work place, in church, in their social circle. and so on). That desire is obtained by certain methods by which you promote what you can bring to that specific entity thus resulting in your ultimate goal. If I want to be regarded as attractive, successful, and so on, I will do what I believe is necessary (typically based on pre-conceived ideas) to reach that position.
However, while goals and success and ambition are all important, many of us fail to see the importance of grounding our competitive desires in the Word of God.
This concept of success based on the words of God often brings ridicule and contempt. Why? Because success in the eyes of God looks far different that success based in my flesh. Success based on the word of God exalts not me, but God. And, this is weird to those who do not understand the nature and basis of "Godly success".
I finished reading Deuteronomy today, and as I was reading, I was challenged by the character of Moses, who, at the end of his life, it is written, "There has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, who the LORD knew face to face..."
What a testimony! But, what did Moses do that made him so successful? Did he rule over the people with a strong, mighty hand? Did he perform amazing signs and wonders? Did he control the people with such charisma that they couldn't help but follow him?
No. Moses simply did what God told him to do. Moses continually regarded God as King. Moses did not see himself as great or "the guy in charge" or "the one everyone needed to listen to". In reading through Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, I was struck with how many times Moses reminded the people of God: of his works and wonders, of his character, and of his love. Over and over again, Moses would remind the people of their inability to be great, and of God's greatness in calling them as a people unto himself. Moses reminded the people of their sin and God's mercy. He reminded them that God "created them, made them, and established them" (Deut. 32:6). He reminded them how God guided them, counseled them, instructed them, and loved them.
And, in all these things, he reminds them, too, that "The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms... Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the LORD, the shield of your help, and the sword of your triumph!" (Deut. 33:27-29).
This is true for us, who have been called and chosen and redeemed. Our God is eternal. Our God reigns. Our God loves. And our God saves!
In these truths, we live. In these truths, we fight for the glory and success of his name. In these truths, we must not give in to the fleshly desires that seek ambition for our own sake, but for the sake of his name. "We are the conquered captives of his omnipotent love. Thus, chosen, purchased, and subdued, the rights of our divine possessor are inalienable; we rejoice that we never can be our own; and we desire, day by day, to do his will and to show forth his glory!" (C.H. Spurgeon).
What success are you seeking these days? Success in the eyes of peers on social media? Success at work (i.e. pay raise, position, etc.) Success in your body (a certain weight, look, dress, etc.) Success as a parent (your kids being well-behaved, going to the best school, achieving particular status, etc.). Success as a woman (looking a certain way, having a certain job, being liked by so many people, having the prettiest, cleanest, nicest home- this list could go on and on...).
What I am continually reminded of as I look at Scripture is that God is in control. He has controlled the earth, the people, the places, the times for as long as this world has existed (he created it after all!). And, he will continue to so govern all things. He controls me. He controls my days. And, in spite of my desires for control, he has still been God. He has still governed my days. My sin, my pride, my ambition could not compete with the power, love, and mercy of God. And, in realizing how foolish my ambitions are apart from him, I am humbled that he chooses to love me. I am amazed that he calls me his own. I rejoice that my days are not mine to ordain, but are continually held in his hands.
And, so he does with our world. He still controls the raging war in politics, in government, in relationships, and in your heart, And, he will reign as KING! What you do with this truth is your choice. You can continue to strive for control and success your way- or you can choose God's way. You can choose to let your pride govern your choices and relationships, or you can let God's Spirit fill you with joy, hope, peace, and power. Power to live wholly bound to him, to his word, and to his ways.
Before Moses died, he instructed the people of Israel to "Take heart to all the words which I am warning you today, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law. For it is no empty word for you, but for your very life, and by his word you shall live..." (Deut. 32: 46-47). The same is true for us. Will we heed the word of God and live for him or will we be governed by the law of our sinful hearts? Whatever you choose, remember, God will still be King. And, one day, every knee will bow and confess him as LORD- either with dread or joy. The choice is yours!
I challenge you to search your heart to see whether the choices you are making regard God as King or yourself as "the one in control". I would encourage you to read through Deuteronomy 32-33, and be reminded of who God is and of his control over all things. I would also encourage you to listen to this song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUp02T4gvm0
What comfort to know our God is King- from the beginning of time to the end of time!