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doing an endzone dance October 5 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Mark 3:1-19; Matthew 12:9-21; Luke 6:6-16; Matthew 4:23-25

How To Handle Success

A football player makes a Touch Down and does his End Zone Dance (usually practiced for just such an occasion). A businessman, politician or leader of an organization hosts a special dinner to highlight his accomplishments. What do these things have in common? Boasting! In our American society we are told to claim success whenever and wherever we can. We should let people know of our accomplishments. Is this the way to handle success? How Jesus handled success will give us clues on how we should handle it.

Those who are successful often pay a price—they experience a lot of criticism. In today's Bible reading, Jesus is criticized for healing a man's hand on a Sabbath day. The seventh day of the week is a Sabbath, a day of rest, and work is forbidden according to the fourth commandment (of the ten) given to Moses. Because Jesus heals on this day, the Pharisees condemn him. These religious leaders compete with the Sadducees and Herodians for high office, and now they have a young popular upstart to contend with—and he can do miracles! Like presidential candidates, they are digging up dirt on Jesus to discredit him. If we are successful, we can expect dirt from the competition. How will we respond to injustice and false accusations? Jesus is angry, but he does not stop doing good because he is criticized. We should follow his example.

Those who experience success and are threatened need to think about their followers. Will they be safe or harassed? Sometimes it is necessary to take a stand, but at other times it is wise to avoid unnecessary confrontations and walk away. The latter is what Jesus does at this time. His success follows him as our success often follows us. Do we care about those whom we lead? What will we do to protect them?

Success often brings a very busy schedule. Jesus heals people all day long. It is very tiresome to have people pressing him on every side, wanting his attention. Some of us can relate to that. What does Jesus do? First, he creates some space between him and the crowds. Second, he prays and then appoints twelve apostles (meaning those “sent forth”) from the disciples which are following him. These twelve have been with Jesus constantly.

It is hard to imagine that Jesus chose a treacherous person (Judas Iscariot) to be among them, but it was in the will of God that he did so. Many of us have chosen people, who by all appearances seemed loyal, but we later found them to be treacherous. There are always risks when we ask people to work with us.

These twelve disciples (apostles) are the ones Jesus sends out to heal and cast out demons; that is, he empowers and shares some of the workload with them. Because the Lord does this he is able to multiply his ministry. We can do the same, if we entrust some of our responsibilities to those who share our values.

Finally, Jesus uses the opportunity of his popularity to teach the masses of people so they might lead successful lives. Are we concerned about our own achievements or the achievements of others? Do we enable others to lead successful lives and ministries?

Does Jesus use his popularity to trumpet his success? Not at all. Jesus tells demons whom he casts out and people whom he heals not to tell everyone. This is amazing but true. He does not want people to make him a king (that will come later toward the end of the age). Matthew quotes a Greek translation of (Isaiah 42:1-4) to show how Christ fulfills the Hebrew Scriptures,
Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he leads justice to victory. In his name the nations will put their hope, (Matthew 12:18-21, NIV).

Jesus does not make a habit of quarreling with people. Neither does he cry out, trumpeting his success. Jesus quietly does his work. Amazing! The Son of God, the creator and sustainer of the universe, does not boast. He does not step on people to bring himself up the ladder of success. Instead, the Lord is gentle among them like a shepherd with his sheep or a mother with hurting children: “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out” (Matthew 12:20, NIV). Thomas Carlyle, a famous Scottish satirical writer in the Victorian era, once said, “A great man shows his greatness by the way he treats little men.” Like Jesus, we should also seek to be kind and considerate with people.

Lessons to Live By

  • Has success gone to our heads? If so, we need to turn from our sins to God so he will forgive our wrongs! Success comes from God. We do not need to trumpet it; we just need to quietly continue being a servant. Our rewards will come soon enough.
  • We need to care about the people in our organization. Are they safe from harm and harassment? Do we seek to help people to be successful? People will love and be loyal to us if they know we truly care about them.
  • As the burden of success increases, we need to carefully select individuals to share our work. Their help will multiply success.
  • Remember, “A great man shows his greatness by the way he treats little men,” (Thomas Carlyle). Like Jesus, we should be kind and considerate with people.
  • Are any of us experiencing moral and spiritual failure? Success in this area starts with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He can give us spiritual life, peace, and forgiveness. With him we can be successful (more...) .

Focus Verse

Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV) “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

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A Look Ahead: True Righteousness and Grace Living (the Sermon on the Mount).

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