by J.R. Miller
What is success? What is the true aim in life? What should one, setting out to make his way through this world—take as the goal of all his living and striving?
‘Views of life’ differ widely. Many think they are in this world to make a career for themselves. They set out with some splendid vision of success in their mind—and they devote their life to the realizing of this vision. If they fail in this, they suppose they have failed in life. If they achieve their dream—they consider themselves, and are considered by others, as successful.
The world has no other standard of success: it may be the amassing of wealth; it may be the winning of power among men; it may be the triumph of a certain skill; or genius in art, in literature, in music, etc.
But whatever the definite object may be, it is purely an earthly ambition.
Applying this standard to life—but few men are really successful. Great men are as rare as lofty mountain peaks. Only a few win the high places; the mass remain in the low valleys. Only a few win honor, rise into fame, and achieve ‘distinction’; while the great multitude remain in obscurity—or go down in the dust of earthly defeat.
Is this the only standard of success in life? Do all men, except for the few who win earth’s prizes, really fail? Is there no other kind of success? The world’s answer gives no comfort to those who find themselves among ‘the unhonored’.
But there is another sphere—there is a life in which success is not material—but spiritual. One may utterly fail, so far as earthly results are concerned; and yet, in the invisible spiritual realm—be a splendid winner in the race!
The true test of life—is character. Everything else is extraneous, belonging only to the husk, which shall fall off in the day of ripening! Character is the kernel, the wheat—that which is true and enduring. Nothing else is worth while—except that which we can carry with us through death, and into eternity! "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:18
It is altogether possible that a man may fail of winning any earthly greatness, any distinction among men, anything that will immortalize him in this world’s calendars—and yet be richly and nobly successful in spiritual things, in character, in a ministry of usefulness, in things which shall abide—when mountains have crumbled into dust! It is possible for one to fall behind in the race for wealth and honor—and yet all the while to be building up in himself—an eternal fabric of beauty and strength!
What is the standard of success in the sphere of the unseen and the eternal? It is the doing of the will of God. He who does the will of God—makes his life radiant and beautiful, though in the world’s scale he is rated as having altogether failed in the battle. He who is true, just, humble, pure, pleasing God and living unselfishly—is the only man who really succeeds—while all others fail.
Really, there is no other final and infallible standard of living. One who writes his name highest in earth’s lists, and yet has not done God’s will—has failed, as God Himself looks at his career.
God had a purpose in our creation—and we only succeed, when our life carries out this purpose.
The most radiant career, as it appears to men, means nothing—if it is not that for which God made us. We fail in life—if we do not realize God’s will for us.
We live worthily—only when we do what God sent us here to do. A splendid career in the sight of men—has no splendor in God’s sight!
Not the making of a fine worldly career, therefore—but the simple doing of God’s will—is the one true aim in living. Only thus can we achieve real success. If we do this, though we fail in the earthly race—we shall not fail in God’s sight. We may make no name among men, may raise for ourselves no monument of earthly glory—but if we please God by a life of obedience and humble service, and build up within us a character in which divine virtues shine, we shall have attained abiding success!
by J.R. Miller