Which is more difficult, success or failure? Is it easier to walk in the peace and security of identity when we are challenged by our circumstances or when we are comfortable in our situation? Does either option present greater opportunity to actually do what we believe?
Obviously, we all naturally desire success. We want to win and we want the spoils of victory. We can even create doctrine to support our desire for these things and believe that we are entitled as part of our faith. Maybe such a belief has some truth within it, but if so, there must be more.
In 1 Kings 9, God tells King Solomon that He will agree with Solomon’s prayers and bless not only the temple but also the king’s house and “all that Solomon desired to build” in verse 1. It wasn’t just the “religious” stuff, but the desires of Solomon’s heart, as well. God said that He would “consecrate,” or set apart as Holy, the work of Solomon’s forever (v. 3).
The only condition was that Solomon continue to do the right thing. All he had to do was to walk in the ways of the Lord. If he would maintain “integrity of heart and uprightness” then his throne over Israel would last forever (vs. 4-5).
Solomon inherited an incredible kingdom and was enjoying tremendous favor in the advancement of that kingdom. He was now promised by God that this favor would be perpetual for as long as First things were first. It was, remember, God that consecrated the kingdom; it was His choice to set it aside for His purposes and glory. Solomon didn’t have to work hard to do that, he just had to maintain God as God in his heart and mind.
Following this promise, Solomon chose other gods. He turned from the Lord and there were consequences of his choices that stripped much of his kingdom from him and his heirs. The consequences weren’t because he was bad or didn’t follow the rules, but because Holy and not Holy don’t mix. Solomon turned to other gods and the One and only God won’t compete. He’ll put an end to it to protect that which He declares as Holy.
God wants to bless us and consecrate our lives and work. Sustaining His blessings depends on understanding that He is the one that consecrates. If we’ll agree with Him during the times when we enjoy the blessing as much as when we are challenged in the building, His promises are for our benefit. When faced with the comfort of success, however, our hearts will be tempted to compromise and compromise invites idolatry.
The idols of success come incrementally. The fall isn’t overnight, but it’s in the choices of our forgetfulness and laziness that we relegate God to second where He was first when we were desperate. If we’ll protect the desperation of our prayers and continually plead for the consecration that comes from the One that makes things Holy, we’ll have a shot at being as successful during success as He made us from our failures.