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Measuring a Good Life by Obedience and Not Worldly Success

Updated Jan 15, 2024
Measuring a Good Life by Obedience and Not Worldly Success

When we measure our lives in obedience, how many times have we been willing to take a risk for God? When we took the risk, was the reward even greater? 

One of the incentives for creating New Year's resolutions is the ability to measure if our lives are well spent. If we’ve improved in areas such as finances or health (which includes spiritual, emotional, and mental health), we can deceive ourselves into thinking we are living a good life. However, by creating New Year's resolutions with no thought of God's plan for our lives, we are living life on our own terms and not yielding our lives to Christ. 

The Bible tells many stories of people who forsook everything they knew—social success, a stable income, a place in the family business—all to follow Jesus. They had no idea where they were going or what they were doing. All they knew was that Jesus was offering them a new life and they could decide whether to take it or not. Yet, the stories of the people in the Bible were all asked to do something for God. Noah was asked to build the ark. Moses was asked to lead the people through the desert for 40 years. The disciples were asked to follow Jesus. All these people had lives outside of God’s calling until they heard the voice of God and had a choice to make: be obedient to the calling or continue their lives in security and worldly happiness. Yet, these Bible characters are considered successful because of their obedience to God.

As Christians, we need to measure our lives by the same principle. As we discern the voice of God in our lives, are we careful to be obedient to it? Or do we ignore it for worldly happiness and security? 

I have endured many hardships in life. At the age of 20, my parents threw me out of my home because I'd converted from Catholicism to born-again Christianity. I had to choose to completely give up the old life I once knew and follow Jesus, believing he would provide for my every need. After I got married, my husband and I spent 23 years ministering to churches in obedience to God's call in our lives. No matter what our next chapter may bring, I want to be someone who is obedient to God, not someone who ignores his voice and opts for money, security, or stability. 

Here is how I learned to measure my life based on obedience and not worldly success:

I Counted the Cost

Scripture gives the example of counting the cost: “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish… In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples” (Luke 14:28-30; 33).

The Bible tells us to step out in faith even after we have counted the cost of what following Christ will mean for us. Having said this, to live out the faith requires us to exercise wisdom in knowing whether a decision is from God or not. Every time God has called me to take a risk for him, it has cost me greatly. I've lost relationships, homes, jobs, etc. Yet, I consider my life a success because I have always taken the step of faith, believing that God would provide for my every need, and he has. When God asks you to be obedient to his call, what will it cost you? God's calling normally costs us something. It can be our reputation, a job, a home, or even important family relationships. The steps we take toward obedience in our lives are worth the cost. What we may lose in worldly possessions and popularity, we will gain in intimacy with God.

I Took a Great Risk

I've been asked to take a great risk. Those risks involved losing people and possessions that were extremely important to me. Yet, God has asked me to risk these things and has given me even greater rewards as a result. God promises he'll never leave us, and he promises to provide for every need. When we measure our lives in obedience, how many times have we been willing to take a risk for God? When we took the risk, was the reward even greater?

Big risks mean great rewards. But the reward may not appear in this life. For example, if we stand up for the truth against an evil boss, the reward may not be keeping our job. But God will be with us. He promises not to leave us during trials. Even when we can’t see the reward, we must trust God is in control and he sees all we do. 

I Listened and Obeyed God’s Voice

Obeying God's voice is a spiritual discipline that must be learned. When I first became a Christian, I did not quite understand how God was speaking. I only thought he spoke through the Word of God. Yet, as I matured in my faith, I realized there were many ways God was speaking to me. God has also spoken to me through other people, visions, a gut feeling, a picture, a word of knowledge, etc. If we want to achieve intimacy with Christ, we must learn to discern the Father's voice. To be obedient to God and what he is calling us to do, we must also discern what God is saying. When you think you hear something from God, test it against God's Word. Does it align with Scripture? If it doesn't, throw it out. It is our own fleshly desires to do what we want to do. If we hear something and we're unsure whether it aligns with Scripture, test it with a mature follower of Christ. We all should have mature people whom we can go to for advice and wise counsel. Ask the people that we trust to speak into our lives and let us know if what we're hearing is from God or ourselves.

To live a life of true success, we must learn to obey the voice of God. To be obedient to what God is calling us to do, we must count the cost and understand that it may take great risk for us to do what God is calling us to do. It may cause us to move from our homes, sever relationships, or leave a luxurious life for one of poverty, all to live out our life of calling. However, when we get to the end of our lives, we'll be able to call ourselves successful because we were obedient to what God was calling us to do. And that's a life worth living.

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Chinnapong

Writer Michelle LazurekMichelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife, and mother. She is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services and a certified writing coach. Her new children’s book Who God Wants Me to Be encourages girls to discover God’s plan for their careers. When not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting 80s memorabilia, and spending time with her family and her crazy dog. For more info, please visit her website www.michellelazurek.com.