Today, on Insight for Living, from Chuck Swindoll. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you at the proper time. You want to be successful in God's eyes?
Clothe yourselves with humility toward others. Many of us were raised in a generation obsessed with success. And for the last few decades, opportunities for personal achievement have never been greater. But in today's economic climate, we're watching a whole new generation of job seekers go hunting for work, only to find their pursuit of success falling short of their dreams.
As a result, many have questioned the classic paradigm for success. Today, on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll points to the true and lasting source of satisfaction. He titled today's message, Hope Beyond Dissatisfaction, a formula that brings relief. Now, I'd like to have you open your Bibles to 1 Peter, chapter 5. And for the next few minutes, rest in your lap the three verses that we are looking at, verses 5, 6, and 7 in our study of 1 Peter.
Once you do that, let me pause for a moment and sort of set the stage for what I want to talk about. Ours is a success-oriented society. If that is not true of all countries around the world, it is certainly true of this country of America. We have now brought success to such an extreme that it has gone to seed. I cannot remember another time in my ministry when the word has been used more often. When you go to the average magazine rack, just count the times you read the word success on the covers of the magazines you look at. Seminars are held by the hundreds every year on the one subject of success. Motivational seminars, technique seminars, sales seminars, success, success, success. I don't know how many books, how many tapes, both audio and video are published every year that emphasize success.
It must be in the dozens, and perhaps it would be more accurate to say in the hundreds. Interestingly, very few address what it is that most folks want but seldom find in their pursuit of success, and that is contentment, fulfillment, relief. In my research for this message I found a wonderful quote that brings the two thoughts together, success and satisfaction. Listen, there is never enough success in anybody's life to make one feel completely satisfied.
From a woman named Jean Rosenbaum, I know nothing of her background but I agree with her statement. Another equally powerful statement that I think you may find humorous, I located in the Executive's Digest, the trouble with success is that the formula is the same as the one for a nervous breakdown. If we're hung up on any one subject in America today, we are hung up on this one, and I don't know of another subject that is more deceptive, more full of empty dreams, phantoms, mirages, and disappointments than the pursuit of success. I especially like Johnny Cash's comment regarding success. If you don't have any time for yourself, any time to hunt or to fish, that's success. Before I look at these three verses, let me deliver what I believe to be four major messages promising success from today's world.
I hear it and I read it in the media, I see it acted out before me in the lives of young, middle-aged, and older executives, and I cringe when I see these messages coming through again and again and again. Four words that I want to blow the dust off of, I use them years past and I'll use them again this time. Fortune, fame, power, pleasure.
Let me give a statement to each one. Fortune, to be successful, you need to make a great deal of money. I doubt that anyone is held up in the eyes of an American today, held up as successful if he or she does not have more money than the average person. Understand nothing wrong in making money if it's earned honestly. Certainly there is nothing wrong in investing or giving or even using money or saving money.
If the motive is right, if the heart is pure, but I have yet to find someone, hear me out on this, who found satisfaction simply in the gathering of more money. Fortune is not a synonym for success. Second is fame. The statement, to be successful, you need to be known in the public arena. I doubt that anyone is held up in the eyes of an American as successful if that person is not famous. Success and popularity are connected. As I read recently, they are the twins of satisfaction.
That is a lie. Most famous people I know find no satisfaction in the fame. In a talk show over KABC in Los Angeles some time ago, the talk show host, Michael Jackson, not the singer, but the talk show host, I don't know, was celebrating something of his 20th, maybe 25th anniversary on the radio. I don't know of anybody who has interviewed eyeball to eyeball more famous people in this generation, certainly in the Los Angeles area, than the talk show host, Michael Jackson. And he said, as he brought that anniversary to sort of a conclusion, he said, I have one statement I would like to make.
And he used words something like this. This is not an exact quote. I would not wish the curse of fame on anyone.
How about that? For those who are not famous, there is this longing, this pursuit, this driving desire to be known in the public arena. And most folks think that would be satisfying. That is a curse, not a pleasure. Fortune does not bring success, nor does it mean success. Fame is not a synonym for success, though the world says it is. Third, power.
The statement? To be successful, you need to wield a lot of authority. Once again, I don't think anyone would be held up in the minds of an American as successful if that person were not in authority. Fulfilling an influential position, by that I mean taking charge, being in control, to be interpreted pushing people around, carrying a lot of weight. Well, that's three of them. Fortune, fame, power, the big three. There's one more.
Pleasure. To be successful, you need to be able to do whatever you feel like doing. That perhaps is the most, is the emptiest of the four. Have your wants fulfilled in the old adage, eat, drink, and be merry.
Live it up, and you will be the object of many people's envy. Before I move into our scriptural study, pause and think over that list. Notice what is absent.
There is no mention of the vertical dimension of life, not even a hint of the living God, of his son, Jesus Christ, of God's will or God's favor. I repeat, nothing in the list can guarantee satisfaction. In the final analysis, what most people want in life is contentment, relief, satisfaction. I heard my sister speak not long ago, and she was talking about visiting with a very famous opera singer in Italy several years ago. This singer owned a good deal of Italian real estate, lived in a lovely home. They looked out on a harbor with a number of yachts and Lucy said, for all I know, most of them owned by this lady I was staying with. They had gotten to know each other in her work in the Dallas Civic Opera, and she asked this famous woman if this was the epitome of success, and the woman replied very wisely and a bit shocked.
Why, no. Well then, what is success? And in the words of this Italian opera singer, there was something like this given as an answer. When I stand to perform, to sing my music, and I look out upon a public that draws from that expression of this art, a sense of fulfillment, satisfaction, and pleasure, that, that moment, when I know I have contributed to someone else's need, that is the best expression I know to describe success. So somehow in the midst of all this, keep in mind that the vertical dimension is essential, and somehow there must be in the fulfillment of life an investment in other people in order for the heart to find contentment. Some sense of peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ, and some sense of deliberate investment in the lives of others, service, help, assistance, compassion. Therein lies so much of that which brings a sense of peace and success. And by the way, I'll come to it again as I finish my talk. Often success comes surprisingly to an individual.
It is not a pursuit as much as it is a surprising discovery in an individual's life. Now, listen to three verses out of 1 Peter 5. You younger men, verse 5, likewise be subject to your elders, and all of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you at the proper time, casting, throwing, heaping all your anxiety upon him, because he cares for you. The world's agenda is much more complicated than what we have just read. The world's agenda includes such things as work hard, harder than the next guy, more hours than most, push for the higher position than you now possess. Push ahead regardless. If necessary, step on the other fellow on the way up. Worry nothing at all about anything but getting ahead, and don't let anything get in your way.
Certainly not your mate, your home, absolutely not your children, not your religion, not your conscience, not your friends. Go for it. Promote yourself no matter what. No problem if you have to be aggressive, or selfish, or intimidating, or mean.
After all, life comes around once and you've got to go for the top if you want to make it. I find these three verses we just looked at a series of strong contrasts to what I just stated as the world's agenda. Let me suggest to you that in God's ancient plan that brings relief, three things are involved.
All three begin with the letter A. The first has to do with authority, and verse 5 talks about that. The second has to do with attitude, verse 6 talks about that. And the third has to do with anxiety, and verse 7 talks about that. First piece of counsel, verse 5, submit yourself to those who are wise.
You want to be successful in God's eyes? Clothe yourselves with humility toward others. Notice how the verse begins, it's addressing younger men, and then it becomes all of you. So it isn't limited to younger men, it's to all of us. It says, younger men, be subject, the word has in mind, submitting oneself.
Not to anyone. I learned somewhere, I think it was from Howie Hendricks, many many years ago, that experience is not the best teacher. Guided experience is the best teacher. I think the best illustration of that is laying brick. You can lay brick till you're blue in the face without anybody around to help you know how to do it, and it is a miserable looking wall, though you have weeks of experience in laying brick.
But if you have a bricklayer who is a journeyman and knows how to lay a course of brick, and another course so that it's right, guided experience will make that wall an object of beauty. What you need is the wisdom of another life. And so he begins here, submitting ourselves to those who are wise. Look at the term Peter uses, verse 5, clothe yourselves with humility. Can you picture in your mind a scene that Peter might have thought about when he wrote verse 5? I think the scene would take us back to John chapter 13, where, reclining at the table for the last meal, Peter, with dirty feet, along with 11 other disciples with dirty feet, witnessed the Lord push away from the table, get a basin of water, gird himself with a towel, and clothe himself with a servant's garb, and then washing each one of the disciples' feet. I think Peter had that in mind when he said clothe yourselves with humility.
Another thought on this verb is that it is present tense. It means keep on clothing yourselves. This is not something we do once a month.
It is not even something we do only at a Bible study or a few weeks out of the year. It is something we do as a way of life. Submitting ourselves to those who are wise will bring about helpful results.
I made a list of some of the things we do when we clothe ourselves with humility toward the wise. We listen to their counsel. We remain open to their reproofs. We watch their lives and follow their example.
We accept their decisions without challenging them. We respect their seasoned years of walking with God. That's why he says younger ones clothe yourselves with humility toward older ones.
Why? Because to do otherwise leads us into a proud independence. And then he quotes from Proverbs 3, because God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble. I'm going to ask you to turn back to that original proverb. It's found in Proverbs 3 verse 34. And I will read several verses surrounding that particular proverb.
And it may not sound exactly like Peter quotes it. Probably he was quoting from the Septuagint rather than from the literal Old Testament Hebrew scriptures. Notice in Proverbs 3, 31. Do not envy a man of violence and do not choose any of his ways. For the crooked man is an abomination to the Lord, but he, capital H, God is intimate with the upright.
Do you love those words as much as I? Have you ever noticed them before in the scriptures? God is intimate with the upright.
He has an intimate relationship. May I intercept your thoughts for a moment? And I know I'm interrupting the flow, but think of the words of Philippians 3, 10. That I may know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings being conformable unto his death. The Amplified Bible says that I may progressively become more intimately acquainted with him.
That's an upright man. My goal in life, says the Apostle Paul, is to become increasingly more intimately acquainted with the Savior. Now look at the proverb again. The crooked man is an abomination to the Lord, but the Lord is intimate with the upright.
It's even stronger in the next one. The curse of the Lord is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the dwelling of the righteous. Now the proverb that Peter quotes, though he scoffs at the scoffers, yet he gives grace to the afflicted. The wise will inherit honor, but fools display dishonor.
What we have here is a sequence of contrastive proverbs, sort of building to a climax. Peter states God is opposed to the proud. Solomon originally wrote God scoffs at the scoffers. To scoff is an expression of scorn, derision, and contempt. There is an Old Testament statement that says, God will have them in derision. He will scoff at the scoffer. I don't know quite how the Hebrew humor works, but it must have been something like God will have his final laugh.
God will have his final say. As the scoffer curls his lips and shouts his cursings and resentments toward God, God will answer back in a greater measure. Notice he gives grace to the afflicted.
On your way back to 1 Peter 5, stop off at James 4, the book just before Peter. James 4 verse 6, where James quotes the same proverb, but precedes it with a statement I want you to notice. Referring to God, he gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. That's the sentence in 1 Peter 5 that draws our attention today.
And we'll pick up this theme again on the next program. Chuck Swindoll titled his message, Hope Beyond Satisfaction. To learn more about this ministry, visit us online at insightworld.org. Well, it's possible that today's topic has resonated with you at a deeply personal level.
In recent days, maybe you've been wrestling with a lingering sense of disappointment, and you truly need to recalibrate your perspective and align your expectations with the promises in the Bible. If that's the case, would you take a few minutes to leave a note for Chuck Swindoll in Insight for Living? We would love to hear your story. You can connect with us at insight.org or call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888.
That's 800-772-8888. Either way, I can assure you that we cherish every word that you share. You may have noticed that Chuck's voice sounds a little different in this teaching series.
Well, that's because it was recorded many years ago. It was during a season when Chuck was preaching two different messages each Sunday. I mention this interesting part of our history because it demonstrates the deep archive of sermons that Insight for Living has to share with you. We are stewarding thousands of Chuck's messages, some going back to the 1970s. Take some time to see the amazing collection of sermons and resources available to you, both on our website and our convenient mobile app. We're able to share Chuck's teaching in this way because of the generous support of our listening family. To get in touch with us today, call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888 or visit us online at insight.org. I'm Bill Meyer, inviting you to join us again next time when Chuck Swindoll identifies how to overcome dissatisfaction with life on Insight for Living. The preceding message, Hope Beyond Dissatisfaction, A Formula That Brings Relief, was copyrighted in 1989, 1990, 1996, 2006, 2009, and 2011. And the sound recording was copyrighted in 2011 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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