Freedom from the Oppression of Success

In Galatians 1:3-10, we learn that with the approval of God, we don’t need the applause of man. Because of the gospel, I am able to live before an audience of One, where no one gets ultimate influence in my life except Jesus.

So, what practical difference will this make? I can think of at least six applications to real life, right now.

  1. I do not need to fear the opinions of others.
  2. I can serve others without the need for recognition and appreciation.
  3. I can make unpopular decisions.
  4. I can receive correction with gratitude.
  5. I can speak “truth in love” to others, without the fear of rejection.
  6. I have nothing to prove.

Andrew Carnegie was known in the 1800s as America’s “King of Steel.” He was born into poverty in Dunfermline, Scotland, but his family soon immigrated to Pittsburg to make a new life. They were starting from scratch with nothing. When seeing his mother weeping in despair over their plight, he said, “Some day I’ll be rich and we’ll ride in a fine coach driven by four horses.” But she replied, “That will do not good over here if no one in Dunfermline can see us.” So, thirty-three years later, on July 27, 1881, he returned to Dunfermline as the richest man in the world, with his mother riding on top of a royally furnished coach driven by four horses. Lord Provost, the guilds and town councilors escorted the Carnegies home to a hero’s welcome. He had “shown them.”

We can relate to this. Not to the wealth, but the desire to show them—to show a parent, or an ex-boyfriend, or a coach, or a former employer. But the gospel frees us from the oppression of success. I don’t need to “show” anyone what a great parent I am, or how successful I am in sales, academics or preaching. I don’t need to “show” anyone anything except the cross of Jesus. With the approval of God, I don’t need the applause of man. I am able to live before an audience of One, where no one gets ultimate influence in my life except Jesus, the one who, through death and resurrection, has already shown us.

The challenge is to believe this… and live like it.

The full sermon on this theme will be posted soon.

For a helpful book on this theme, just go here.

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