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Sep

14

2010

Why do you seek success?

Reading Whitefield's biography about two weeks ago as I was walking one night, a question popped into my head as clear as day: Why do you seek the success of Whitefield?

A good question to ask when reading the life of such a person so amazingly used by God and myself also desiring to be greatly used of God. Reading Whitefield's biography and the amazing amazing success he had, I often thought to myself, "O to have that kind of hearing! O to have people so moved by my preaching! O to have so many converted and transformed by my ministry!" I will not speak on behalf of others, but such thoughts came naturally to me.

I suppose this brought to the fore something that has been in my mind for some time now. There is ever a battle and a narrow line to be tread between holding on equally to a fiery passion that people be saved, and a calm trust in the power of God to save them. 

I both love and hate these thoughts and desires of success. I do seek this because it means people being saved, people growing, God being glorified! I want that! I earnestly yearn to see people saved, and it pains me and brings me such grief that it is not happening here. 

I hate these thoughts as they make me do things by my own strength, which leads to pride when things go well and depression when they don't. Wanting to simply "not be a failure" is a horribly low goal to set, and will not meet with blessing from on high! Such desires are not motivated by the glory of God at all, and a seeking of this success can often degenerate into such baser desires.

O to find what Will Metzger calls "a holy dissatisfaction with nonresults" in his Tell the Truth (p. 29)! I am trying to find a holy discontentment. I cannot stand by and neither care nor weep when people continually reject Christ. Neither can I let this drive me away from my task.

Mark Dever, in The Deliberate Church, issues a timely warning:

If you define success in terms of size, your desire for numerical growth will probably outrun your patience with the congregation, and perhaps even your fidelity to biblical methods.

Mark Dever and Paul Alexander, The Deliberate Church,
 (Wheaton: Crossway, 2005), 40.

Do not desire to be successful more than you desire to be faithful. Paul knew to pray that resolves for good would be fulfilled (2Th 1:11), and neither did he presume they would be fulfilled automatically, nor did he deny such resolves as not trusting in God. And Paul also knew to labor night and day and speak to each person house to house with tears, urging them to believe and to stand firm in the faith (Acts 20:31)! 

Why do you seek the success of Whitefield?

Do you desire wholeheartedly to glorify God? Or is part of it your desire to be successful and not a failure? Such thinking amounts--in some degree--to Phi. 1:17, preaching "not sincerely". Ouch. 

Study until you are convinced you understand the word of God accurately, while praying that God would work, and then proclaim it with all your heart in the power of the Spirit, and then pray again that God would work, and trust in the power of God through his word, all the while checking to make sure you are not adding any additional offense to the gospel. Then do it again and again and again. 

Such an attitude and method will temper depression and keep you persevering and trusting through the rough times, and--should God show mercy and bring growth--temper pride and keep you faithful during the good times. And through both times, God will be glorified both in the pulpit and the pew as the sovereign and glorious and all-sufficient Savior that he truly is. 

If I may achieve that, I shall rejoice indeed. 

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Matt Hauck (郝柏昇)

A once enemy now son, forgiven and freed by Jesus' blood, adopted and called by grace for glory.   (more...)

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