How do you measure success in this life? Our American way of thinking leads us to believe that we’ve only experienced success when a desired outcome is achieved. Businesses are said to be successful when the money is flowing in and more employees are being hired. And, sadly, many churches measure success based on the number of new members that were added in a year or the number of baptisms that were performed on any given Sunday. Thankfully, God does not measure success in the same way. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 3:6-7, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” God is not looking at the results of our labor, for He already knows the outcome; after all, He is the one who ordained all that has and will come to pass. Unlike employees undergoing a performance evaluation, we don’t need to worry or fret when our performance doesn’t produce the results we were hoping for. All that matters is that we “perform” to the best of our ability, fully leaning upon Christ, and trusting that God will produce the results. Sharing the gospel, praying faithfully, living our lives in obedience to God’s Word, encouraging and admonishing one another — these are the things that count.
“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 2:14-17
While this passage of Scripture is specifically referring to preachers, all Christians are ambassadors of Christ, boldly proclaiming the gospel, even if we’re not speaking from a pulpit. We are Christ’s aroma. Even if people reject God, He is still pleased with our faithfulness in sharing His Word. In fact, even if our own children reject God, as long as we are faithful in sharing the gospel and living it out, we can be confident that God will be glorified no matter the outcome. It’s not our job to change hearts; only God can do that. We must simply be faithful. Galatians 6:9 reminds us to not “grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” And what will we reap? This verse is certainly not referring to success according to worldly standards. The answer is found in verse 8: “eternal life.” Because of Christ’s shed blood on the cross and God’s unending grace toward wretched sinners like you and me, believers will receive the ultimate reward — eternal life with Christ. And that is greater than any success we could ever achieve in this world.