“And from the roof he saw a woman bathing and the woman was very beautiful to behold…..” 2nd Samuel 11:2

“Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry….and put to death all the male children…… Matthew 2:15

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”  Matthew 5:5

“Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times……And He said to me, ‘My Grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness'”  2 Corinthians 12:21

David was by any earthly measure, successful.  He was King of Israel and had great personal wealth.  He lived in the grandest structure in the city of Jerusalem (as the temple had not been built yet).  He was so powerful and important, when a besieging army came against one of the cities of Israel, he sent his chiefs and army out to fight but he, the king, stayed in Jerusalem.  It was a warm evening.  This is the same David that was so fervent for the Lord that he slew Goliath, this is the same David who prayed so fervently to be delivered from the hands of King Saul.  So tonight one might have expected David to be kneeling in prayer for his army.  Or one might think David would be praying thanksgiving to God for the blessings bestowed.  Except, neither was happening.  Instead, David was looking out over his city.  His success had allowed him to be atop the tallest building and his eyes spotted another man’s wife.  David’s roving eye would lead to first, adultery and then murder.

Herod was successful.  He was king of the Jews.  Now granted his path was different than King David’s.  Herod was chosen by the Romans to be the leader in Jerusalem and there appears to be little to no evidence that he was ever a faithful follower of God.  Even though he was successful, he always feared the uprising that might bring his position of power to an end.  This threat might either come from the outside or from within, by his own people.  His desperate yearning to stay in power would even lead him to want to destroy the Messiah, the Savior of his people.  Seemingly, in his success, he had no fear even of God, Himself.

Look who Jesus says will inherit the earth; the meek.  Now in and of itself, He does not say, nor do I that the meek can not be someone who is successful.  However, in the definition of meek, one who is humbly patient, docile, this does not tend to fit into our picture of the person who is significantly successful in today’s world.

What is the point?  Time after time in God’s Word; the times we hear people cry out is when they are in serious trouble, serious danger, have suffered a significant setback or seem lost.  Also, quite frequently, it is when God’s people achieve a certain amount of success, especially success over time, they find themselves, not turning even more toward God with thanksgiving and humble praise; quite the opposite, they tend to turn away.   They start to act as if they are the basis for their own success and are deservedly entitled to whatever selfish and evil actions they feel like inflicting on others.

Sadly, that is a trait not limited to historical figures in the bible.  In today’s society we most often hear about prayer when we are asked to pray for people impacted by crime, war or some natural event.  We are asked to pray for those who have an illness, lost a job or have fallen on some other type of hard times.  Please, don’t misunderstand me in using these examples because it is a very good thing to do, to show our love and support in this way.

Yet how often do we find the very successful in the world acting meekly?  How often do we hear the famous speak of praying to God not only in thanksgiving but also in acknowledgement that their very success comes from Above.  There are some exceptions, especially in sports who will give praise to the Father for their good fortune and athletic prowess.  Yet, all too often, soon after they are demanding higher salaries for the talent they see as theirs and theirs alone.

Also understand that this is not about the splinters of others, missing the log in my own eye.  I humbly confess that my prayer life suffers significantly over time during times of sustained and increasing success.  I lose focus on Who it is who has brought me that success as I’m too busy, on the one hand reveling in it and on the other hand trying to insure that it continues.  I start to buy into the sin of believing my success is because of my own hard work and is a reward for the goodness of my being.  I find myself trying to find ways to enrich my life because of my success as something that is owed to me.

Then, like Paul, a thorn comes, there is some aspect, perhaps physical or mental, some circumstance that may be a result of my actions or may have come from something completely outside of my control.  Perhaps it is something that deals only with me or perhaps it is something that impacts me and other loved ones.  Then, by the grace of God, I see my error.  I am forced to become meek and humble, confessing my weakness to Almighty God and asking for His intervention.

So, let’s you and I understand this Dear Sisters and Brothers.  Our Heavenly Father loves us and wants us to be successful which can very well bring with it blessings of abundance.  Yet God also knows the only true way that we can be successful is in relationship with Him.  And God is very clear in His Word that He is not going sit idly by as we drift away from Him and find ourselves on a path to our self destruction.  He loves us too much for that.  Though we might see it as punishment, God is desperate to find a way to bring us back to a deeper, less destructively self reliant relationship, which is the only true path to meaningful success.  And that might very well mean taking away the trappings of earthly success.

Our task, is to find away to still be humble in our success.  To be as needy for God in success as we were before we achieved it.  To not just understand but also behave in a manor that shows that we know that God is the author, the one and only true author of our success and thus daily walk meekly in that relationship with Him.  As the earth sees us rise, paradoxically, let it also see us fall, at the same time on our knees in thanksgiving and praise.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father we praise and thank you for the blessings of success that you shower down upon us.  We also humbly confess that we too often see that success as something of our own doing and seek to glorify ourselves because of it.  We are then, also thankful, for those times that you intervene and show us again Your Power even when it shows us and others the extent of our weakness.  Help us to remain in close relationship with you regardless of our circumstances.   That we would live lives of praise and honor to Your Mostly Name.  In the name of Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen.

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