Clearly, God defines success and happiness much differently than the world does. According to the Bible, the following equations seem to be true:
- Understanding = Success
- Trusting God = Happiness
However, i was looking for some additional clarity, so I looked up the verse in the Amplified translation. Here is what I found:
He who pays attention to the word [of God] will find good, and blessed (happy, prosperous, to be admired) is he who trusts [confidently] in the Lord (Proverbs 16:20, AMP).
Now, the equations have more detail to them, and look something like this:
- Paying attenti0n to what God says = Good
- Confidently trusting God = Blessed
Note that the Bible says that doing these things will lead to goodness and blessedness, but nowhere does it indicate that taking the road less traveled will be easy – it isn’t. It’s actually really quite hard at times.
These days, it sure seems like our society is actively encouraging us to ignore what God says, and to instead rely upon our human strength and ingenuity. However, the Bible is full of examples of individuals and whole cultures who sang the “I’ll do it my way” song, and ended up failing miserably.
It simply isn’t possible to succeed against the Lord, and the Bible says this, too! According to Proverbs 21:30 (AMP),
There is no [human] wisdom or understanding or counsel [that can prevail] against the Lord.
So, if we insist on relying upon our own human wisdom, then we are destined for lives of spiritual emptiness and failure. We may acquire lots of things and money along the way [or not], but we will essentially still be spiritually bankrupt.
Note that the Bible doesn’t say that there won’t be a battle between man and the world – it seems to me like it is an ongoing, relentless affair – but mere human ability cannot possibly succeed against the Lord. It simply can’t be done.
This truth isn’t anything new. Back in the Old Testament, when the people of the day had the brilliant idea to build the Tower of Babel, God stepped in and foiled their plans. He is still doing much the same today.
All throughout the Old and New Testaments, there are stories of God stepping in and wreaking havoc on individuals and whole societies who attempted to mess with His children. The general process seems to play out like this:
- Man make a plan (he thinks it’s terribly clever and innovative, too);
- God steps in and confuses things, usually in a way that man could never anticipate;
- Man’s plan does not succeed;
- Man repeats step 1.
What was true in Biblical days is still true now! Lessons not learned are often repeated, and we seem to be stuck in a loop of history that continually cycles through steps 1-4.
But we have hope! And this is what I am most grateful for today. Thank the Lord that our success and happiness are not dependent on our own abilities and plans! God simply asks us to trust Him, and to seek His wisdom and guidance in all of our affairs. When we take these two steps in faith, He responds by giving us true success and happiness.
Again, God defines success and happiness very differently than the world does, and I am so very thankful that He does! Otherwise, we’d be caught up in a never-ending race to acquire more possessions, all in the name of achieving happiness. After all, human wisdom says that if you work hard and can live a life of comfort and ease, then happiness is sure to follow. If this is the case, then why are some of the unhappiest people in the world also some of the wealthiest?
Hear me: I have no issue with wealth. I don’t think that God loves you more if you are poor, and loves you less if you are rich. Money is a tool – nothing more, and nothing less – but when it starts to define how you treat and value other people, then wealth and the acquisition of things (or the desire to have these things) have become the gods in our lives.
In contrast, doing life God’s way – living according to the principles laid out in Proverbs 16:20 – sure seems to be a lot simpler, no? Mind you, it’s not necessarily easier, but it is simpler. Again, all God asks us to do is trust Him, and to follow His guidance. This approach sure seems a lot more straightforward than following the Babel-ish human wisdom that the world offers.
So here is my prayer for today: Lord, thank You for reminding us that the path to true success and happiness is a simple one: We are to seek Your guidance in all matters, and to confidently trust You. Help us to stay on the path, and not veer off into the wilderness of human wisdom.
Proverbs 14:12 (NASB) warns us that “there is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” Help us to keep to the path that is right, rather than the one that seems right to us, given our limited understanding. Finally, God, I ask You to give me an abundant portion of Your success and happiness, as I seek to follow You and confidently trust You each day. Of course, I stumble and fall, but I thank You in advance for forgiving me and for providing me with another opportunity to do what is right in Your eyes. In Your name I pray, Amen.