Judging Right: Who Among Us Is Successful?


We don't mean to do it but we just almost find ourselves doing it and for most of us it sends fear, shame and discouragement into our hearts. We read or hear tell of someone who looks a lot (sometimes, just a little) bigger than we are and we judge them to be successful. We are good people so we like to see others succeed but "why must they succeed more than ourselves?"

It's not that we can't rejoice with those who rejoice (not that we even know on a personal level all those successful people) and it's not that we are witches who can't bear to see others succeed. It's just that we are humans and we deserve to succeed - ok, we are aware that the race isn't to the swift or the fight to the strong - but if you had seen how hard we have worked, how right we had lived and how intensely we've prayed, you'll agree with us that "it's really our time to succeed."

We made the charts and filled out all those reports. Everything suggested that we will succeed.  And just hearing or reading of the success of another is trying so don't think we're evil beings but who is really successful? That is a question we should ask ourselves often if we are children of God and have His mind. Who is successful?

Take a tour with me to the temple in Jerusalem and let's listen to the prayers of the Pharisee and Publican (Luke 18:9-14).
There stands the Pharisee with his combed hair, clean and culturally respected clothes, scented with the finest perfumes saying his very carefully worded "anointed" prayer: "Lord, I haven't done anything wrong and everyone can see that from how successful you have made me. I'm such a fine fellow and I know you're so gloating over me."

The other man, the publican, who by all instances stole time away from work came stinking of sweat and didn't even know how to "move" God with fine words but beating on his breast in frustration (most likely, same way he beats on the table when people aren't paying the right amount in taxes) says, "Lord, I am a sinner."

Which do you judge to be successful? Well, you would have made a mistake. Jesus said the publican went home justified. Your guess is as good as mine but one thing we can agree on is that the Pharisee went home with his pomposity and with no knowledge that he stank of failure before the Mighty Judge.

How would we judge our Lord Jesus Himself? "Well, he had every opportunity to make more of himself, I mean he was God in the flesh and had all subject to him, but what did he do - he blew away 30 years of his life (preachers tell us he was preparing but excuse me, that is lame if you ask me, who prepares for 30 years, I know I won't if I had what he had).

When he finally decided to fulfil the purpose for which he was sent he gathered to himself 12 fellows who didn't amount to anything anyway - I think they all got themselves killed or something. You can even say these fellows, ruffians even, who were too lazy to fish or do any honest labor followed him around the country and sit under trees waiting to eat miracle food - Jesus gave them more than that though, he gave them little verses we like to call 'parables'." "He got himself killed a few years later" we might add. Surely we would have made a mistake.

Can we really tell what victory is and who the victor is? Who is really successful? We try so hard to measure ourselves by everyone's standard, but need a break to ask ourselves some serious questions.

Who was successful - Nero or the martyrs? We may say "Nero, he had the power and he had the sword." Did he really? Where is he now? Who was successful - Socrates or his judges, Herod or John the Baptist, Pilate or Christ? As you can see we judge many things by so many false standards. We judge things backwards sometimes.

Allow The Fool's Prayer speak to you:

The royal feast was done; the king
Sought some new sport to banish care,
And to his jester cried: "Sir Fool,
Kneel now and make for us a prayer!"

The jester doffed his cap and bells,
And stood the mocking court before;
They could not see the bitter smile
Behind the painted grin he wore.

He bowed his head, and bent his knee
Upon the monarch's silken stool;
His pleading voice arose: "O Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!

"No pity, Lord, could change the heart
From red with wrong to white as wool:
The rod must heal the sin; but, Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!

"Tis not by guilt the onward sweep
Of truth and right, O Lord, we stay;
'Tis by our follies that so long
We hold the earth from heaven away.

"The clumsy feet, still in the more,
Go crushing blossoms without end;
These hard, well-meaning hands we thrust
Among the heart-strings of a friend.

"The ill-timed truth we might have kept -
Who knows how sharp it pierced and stung!
The word we had not to say -
Who knows how grandly it had rung!

"Our faults no tenderness should ask,
The chastening strips must cleanse them all;
But for our blunders - Oh, in shame
Before the eyes of heaven we fall.

"Earth bears no balsam for mistakes;
Men crown the knave, and scourge the tool
That did his will, but Thou, O Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool."

The room was hushed; in silence rose
The king and sought his gardens cool,
And walked apart, and murmured low,
"Be merciful to me, a fool!"
     - Edward R. Sill

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