Devotional & Reflection

Week 3, Jan 2003

Genesis 24:1-4, 12 - Biblical Success
By Pang Hee Hung, Katartizo Resources Ltd, NZ

Genesis 24:1ff. Abraham was now old and well advanced in years, and the LORD had blessed him in every way. v. 2 He said to the chief servant . . . v. 3 I want you to swear by the LORD, . . . that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living. v. 4 but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac.” v. 12 Then he (chief servant) prayed, "O LORD, God of my master Abraham, give me success today”.

We all search for success in this life. Success is so important that many give their all to achieve it. Some exchange their heart, soul and life, to achieve it. Others give up their morals and integrity to achieve it. But what is success? How do we measure success? People want to evaluate success in measurable & quantifiable terms. But can success be evaluated just on measurable terms?

Abraham has sometimes been portrayed as a model of success because God has blessed him in every way (Gen 24:1). God has blessed him abundantly with wealth, a wife, servants and children (Gen 24:35-36). This sometimes gives a skewed impression that success can be measured in terms of material blessings (money, big house), political influence (good looks, power, status) and other tangible blessings (spouse, children, health).

If success were measured in tangible terms, then Jesus would have failed miserably. Tangible blessings are not absolute measures of biblical success. They do not indicate our faithfulness or obedience to God’s will. So what is Success for the Christian?

Consider the chief servant's prayer (Gen 24:12 - "give me success today"). What was success to the servant? In this instance, success was to fulfill Abraham's desire to find a mate for Isaac; the right mate with specific criteria:
1. Not a Canaanite (Gen 24:3)
2. From one of his people in Mesopotamia (Gen 24:4)
3. Must be willing to leave home and be with Isaac in the Promised Land c.f. Gen 24:5.

Why the stringent criteria? For Isaac to inherit the promises, he must remain in the land and be faithful to the covenant. As for marrying within the same tribe, it seems that Abraham’s impatience in taking Hagar as the Surrogate was a precious lesson he could not forget. So what is success?

It begins with Wisdom: applying knowledge and discernment through a relationship with the Holy Spirit to make the right choices in obedience to God. Thus biblical Success is the blessedness and blessings that result in exercising biblical wisdom. Blessedness is a state of shalom / peace. As the servant ventured out in faith, they received God’s favour – Rebekah was very beautiful and a virgin (Gen 24:16).

Success for Abraham was the result of being faithful to the covenant, – a process that started with Wisdom through an intimate relationship with God and understanding his heart. Although Abraham did not witness all the promises in his lifetime, he did plant a seed which eventually came to be Jesus Christ.

1. With a broader definition of success and wisdom (living a life aligned to God's mind and heart), how have you been successful?
2. What can you do about the areas you are not yet successful?
3. What are the things that you are doing that are actually seeds in the process of fulfillment?

We cannot discover new oceans unless we have the courage to lose sight of shore.

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