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Monday, February 8, 2016

Value vs. Success

What standard do you live by?  I have a little plaque in my office which simply reads: "Every time you walk by the violation of a standard, you set a new standard."  It was given to me some years ago, but it still have great meaning to me, serving as a reminder to not simply "walk on by" those things which really matter in life.   Einstein once said, "Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them."  I believe this is true - we press beyond what we are willing to see as a limit which must be broken in order to move on in life.  There are limits which are kind of the "standards" by which we live - sets of beliefs and rules we adhere to without compromise.  Then there are limits we place on ourselves - beliefs which may not be founded in reality, but are self or other imposed.  I think we need to be careful what "standard" we use as a measuring rod in our lives, for the standard may be too low, or even too high.

For we would never dare to compare ourselves with people who have based their worth on self-commendation. They check themselves against and compare themselves with one another. It just shows that they don’t have any sense! (2 Corinthians 10:12 VOICE)

I will never be an Olympian, so to aspire to be one is kind of silly.  If I tried running like an Olympian at this stage in my life, with my artificial knee and aging body, I'd just look silly. In fact, getting to a good, rapid, heart-pumping pace while walking is enough exercise for this body!  If the standard I measured my cardiovascular workout against was that of the Olympic 5,000 meter distance runner, I'd always be critical of my efforts.  Why?  That is not realistic for me!  The standards we use to evaluate our progress in life need to first of all be realistic.  To bite off more than we can chew in any area of our lives is to set ourselves up to be defeated.

One thing is for sure in this life - there will always be plenty of people we could compare ourselves to - good, bad, pretty, not so pretty, heavy, or slim.  The list could go on and on, but you get the idea.  The "standard" we choose will either serve to defeat us because we don't see ourselves as "measuring up" or get us so self-inflated we see ourselves as "better than" the one we are using as a comparison.  According to our passage, people who compare themselves to other people have "no sense"!  Therefore, using any standard other than Christ as our measurement of "success", "beauty", "spiritual maturity", etc., is just going to point out we have a wrong standard by which we are judging ourselves and others.

Einstein was also quoted as saying, "Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value."  Think on that one a little - a man or woman of value, not of "success".  Why?  "Success" is subjective.  It is based on what is achieved or accomplished.  It isn't a stable thing in our lives.  It can be "undone" by the next "successful" thing someone ELSE does!  Jesus never pointed his followers toward "success" in this life, but rather development of "trust", "hope", and "love".  Success vs. value - one is subjective and movable; the other is objective and immovable. Value is not determined by what we achieve, but rather by what we have been declared to be - a child of the living God himself.  Value is what really gives us worth - worth is more than success - it is a deep-seated assurance we are living by the right standard!  Just sayin!