The Success Trap!


Key Scripture: Genesis 39:1-2


Key Text: and he was a successful man – Genesis 39:2



Success! What an interesting word. It literarily stops you in your tracks. It makes you light up and become curious. Who? What? Where? These are some of the words that pop into your mind. We all love success stories and we all want to be successes and most of all we like to be associated with success and the successful! Nothing wrong with this! I would even say its quite legitimate. Who wants to be a failure or be associated with failures? But…

As children of God, we have to be extremely careful what we call success and how we define success. The people of the world have sold us a dummy. Honestly, they have made riches, wealth, the acquisition of material things, houses, cars, clothes, jewellery, fame, popularity, human adulation all trappings and marks of success. The world bows to these things and we are also caught up in the same dimension. But whilst there is nothing inherently wrong with these things, if these are the pursuit and object of one’s life, how sad and sorry that life is and would be?

If you have ever had some experience with wealth and riches and the acquisition of material things, you would know that the ‘high and buzz’ you get from these things is very ephemeral. It is like froth that just bubbles away. It is like vapour. You are left with the same empty feeling you had before you acquired that latest car or house. Truthfully, we are never quite fulfilled or content. Solomon called it VANITY of VANITIES! What ever is vanity vansihes!

And that is precisely the point. God did not design human beings to live for things. We are created to live for a purpose and only in living that purpose will we ever find real fulfilment and success. I am amazed at what we celebrate as successes. I am sometimes confused when so called intelligent people fall for the same trap. Lord have mercy!

Today our key text focuses on a man called Joseph. He was the son of Jacob, a very, very wealthy man. The bible tells us in Genesis 30:43 that Jacob became exceedingly prosperous! Now his favourite son, Joseph was hated by his brothers and they ganged up against him, sold him into slavery and faked his death. He was stripped of all his earthly goods and identity and he became a slave in the house of an Egyptian named Portiphar. You have to admit that Joseph’s condition at this stage was quite dire according to our human worldly standards. But God said Joseph was a successful man. Read the lines again. Genesis 39:1-2 “Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. And Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him down there. The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.

Would you call a slave a successful man? Be honest! But God said Joseph was a successful man. Why? Let me help you. I really was confused by this myself, but the Lord helped me to understand. First, the bible says “the Lord was with Joseph”. Is the Lord with that successful person you envy? Is the Lord with you? If God is with you, it does not matter what your outward condition is, you really have everything and you lack nothing. Simply because the owner of everything is with you. But there is something even deeper I want you to consider today.

This is my understanding. Joseph was in Egypt, though as a slave, he was in the place of his divine assignment and purpose. He was exactly where God had placed him, because God was outworking a great plan to save a people through him in a very strange land. He had no money, no status, no houses, he had nothing, yet he was successful. My brother, my sister, Jesus said in Luke 12:15 The Message (MSG)

15 Speaking to the people, he went on, “Take care! Protect yourself against the least bit of greed. Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot.”

Success must never be defined by material possessions. Success is a function of purpose and destiny. What is your assignment on the earth? If God wants you to clothe the naked and feed the hungry, and you are busy buying houses and cars and generally making more money, then you are simply a ‘rich failure’. God forbid that you would be called a successful person by men and God will call you an abysmal failure!

Success is a very sensitive word. No one can really determine who is successful or not, only God can give that verdict, because He is the creator of every life and he knows what purposes He created each of us for. Consequently, no one can say you are a failure of a success in life, unless they have the privilege of knowing your purpose. Without the knowledge of your purpose, there is no basis for the qualification or verdict.

Finally, let me say that I am not against the acquisition material wealth and possessions. But I totally abhor and am against a life that is spent in pursuit of these things. It is a wasted life. Life must be about something greater that yourself. Your God-ordained purpose.

Find your purpose; give yourself resolutely to fulfilling it and I can tell you, you will be happy, blessed and most of all, successful.

The world awaits you, don’t fall for the lie of the enemy.

Let’s Pray: Father God, please help me to understand the truth. Let me recognise that the things we look at as successes may actually not be successful at all. Lord please help me find my purpose and grant me the grace to work it out, so I can be a success according to your standards and not the worlds standards. Please deliver me from the expectations of men and let me live to bring delight to your heart in Jesus name. Amen.