Successfully Unsuccessful

Wednesday after Proper 22A

Psalm 144; Song of Solomon 8:5–14; John 11:45–57 ISV


A great deal of water cannot extinguish ,
rivers cannot put it out.
If a man were to all the wealth of his house for love,
he would surely be viewed with contempt.

Song of Solomon 8:7 ISV

“…You don’t realize that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed.” Now he did not say this on his own initiative. As high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not only for the nation, but that he would also gather into one the children of God who were scattered abroad.

John 11:50–52 ISV

When we look at people’s lives and the result of their lives, we ought to be looking from God’s perspective rather than the world’s (or the earthly) perspective.


‌The comparison trap is real. Are my kids as successful as yours? Are your kids as well-adjusted as mine? Is your career doing better (financial, influence) than mine?‌

It is an easy mental and emotional trap to fall into because are the only way we believe we can measure our lives. There is, of course, a problem with that. Who decides what makes for success?‌

The world looks at tangible (money and stuff) and intangible (influence and ). God looks beyond even the intangible.‌

In many respects, God’s baseline measurement is based on nothing we’ve done, nor anything we can do. God’s measurements begin with Jesus.

‌The High Priest, Caiaphas, had prophesied the death of Jesus. Not a good marker of success for Jesus, or anyone. Death is rarely a measure of success, but of failure.

In the Song of Solomon, the bride says, “If a man were to give all the wealth of his house for love, he would surely be viewed with contempt.” Jesus gave up the wealth of his house for love…his love for us.

The bride of Christ has long been a term used to describe the Church (as a whole). It is somewhat ironic, then, that the bride is saying such words, for Jesus is the . According to the bride’s words, then, Jesus is understandably viewed with contempt.

No one reading this, I hope, views Jesus with contempt, yet it seems that many Christians evaluate success in the lives of others, and in their own lives, based upon what the world views as success.

We will often hear that history is written by the victors, except that isn’t entirely true, for Jesus and those who followed him were the losers. Yes, Christianity did eventually win in the Western World. We can see how the church is growing outside of the Western world, where becoming a Christian is a losing proposition, and should question the definitions of success we’re using.


‌What do you think of as success? Do you ever if you are successful? Who/what are you allowing to define success for you?


‌Talk to a believing peer and discover how they define success. Talk to a non-believer and discover how they define success.


Lord Jesus, your birth, , death, and break every model of success. Holy Spirit guide our thoughts to success as you would have us define under the authority and wisdom of God, the . Amen.