The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but man is tested by the praises he receives. (Proverbs 27:21)
Did you know that success is as much a test and a proving ground of your faith as are failure and adversity? Experience has taught me that many who conquer the dark night of the soul crumble under the bright light of success. Today’s passage shows us that God uses our response to the praise of others to disclose the disposition of our hearts. This is “the Success Test.”
Paul admonishes us, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you” (Romans 12:3). The apostle was making it clear that whatever success we achieve is a gift from God. Everything we have and all that we are is solely because of the grace of our God. God has given us our gifts, talents, and abilities. He has given us the air we breathe and the next beat of our hearts. Passing the Success Test begins and ends with a proper estimation of the self, and that will only be achieved in the light of the Savior.
Listen, there is nothing wrong with receiving praise from others for a job well done. What is wrong is when we begin working for the applause of man in order to magnify our self-importance and massage our self-esteem. The men and women who pass the Success Test will receive the praises of others in a way that will stimulate their own worship and strengthen their witness. As a pastor, it is not uncommon to be approached after a service to by someone who wants to thank me for the Word preached. The evil one would love nothing more than for me to receive it in a way that swells my significance and shrinks my Savior. But, as I often say from the pulpit, “I have never had an original idea in my life; I have been blessed to have great teachers who continue pouring into my life.”
We read in Romans 11:36 that all things come from Him, and thus all the glory goes to Him. So if you want to pass the Success Test, the next time someone praises you for something you have done, accept it graciously, but at the same time acknowledge the One who is truly responsible for your every success: your Savior.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!