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Success, God’s Way

In our world today, success takes on many faces. But not all success is good success. Good success as defined to Joshua in this passage and to us as God’s people, is success God’s way.

How do you define or characterise success?  The Biblical Israelites were God’s chosen people, the apple of His eye. Though favoured among others, their divinely appointed destiny was not without formidable challenges. After the dramatic, awe inspiring, and sometimes dangerous deliverance out of Egypt, the LORD reiterates His purpose to Joshua, outlining an audacious promise:

“Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:1-8 NKJV, emphasis mine).

At first glance, it sounds like the Israelites had a clear, effortless path to their destined land flowing with milk and honey. But the fact is, it wasn’t always so. In this passage, the LORD reveals several key things about Himself, and outlines Joshua’s role as a co-worker in ensuring His purposes for them come to fruition.

  • The LORD promises His ever-abiding presence.  As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are spiritual Israel, having been redeemed by the sacrifice of His Son. As He was with Joshua, He abides with us too. No matter the challenges of the physical and spiritual terrain, we are never alone.
  • Joshua is God’s chosen leader, ordained for a specific purpose. We too are chosen and called for a specific purpose (Rom. 8:30). And as Joshua was commanded to be strong and very courageous, we too will have to put on spiritual boldness and courage for what God is calling us to do (Eph. 6).
  • Joshua is given a clear means by which his prosperity is assured. Before ever stepping into the battle grounds of Canaan to wield a sword, Joshua was to engage in spiritual battle by meditating day and night on the Law of the LORD.  This was to be his only authority of reference, observing it without compromise. Though in life we all face challenges, let’s allow God’s word to be “a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path” (Ps. 119;105).
  • The LORD desires only the very best for His people. All through scripture, the Father demonstrates His “pleasure in the prosperity of His servant” (Ps. 35:27; 3 John 2).  This agenda will never change.

In our world today, success takes on many faces. But not all success is good success. Good success as defined to Joshua in this passage and to us as God’s people, is success God’s way.

God’s promises are not automatic, but they are sure as we actively engage with His will and purposes.

“In everything you do, put God first, and He will direct you and crown your efforts with success” (Prov. 3:6 Living Bible, emphasis mine).

Laura A. Onyango is TWU Assistant Professor of Biology. Dr. Onyango was born in Nairobi, Kenya and currently lives in B.C., Canada.