The Image of God
The central aspect of being created in the image of God, I believe, resides in possessing the power of choice. Life presents us with an ongoing array of options, and we have the capacity to select one path and reject another.
I find that capacity to choose an overwhelming reality that confronts us with some very serious prospects. In the next several posts I plan to consider some of the major implications of the power of choice.
Today we will focus on choice confronting us with the options of success or failure.
You Can Choose to Succeed or Fail
Of course, determining whether we succeed or fail depends on our criteria for success and failure. The biblical criteria consist of living as God wants us to live and accomplishing what he has called us to achieve.
1 Timothy 6:11 calls us to make choices in support of biblical virtues: “But you man of God flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faithfulness, love, endurance, meekness.” A life characterized by those qualities resulting in our being the person God called us to be constitutes success. Not meeting these criteria will result in failure.
Occasionally I am confronted with an Internet ad that apparently leads to a pornography site. I can choose to click on the link or to quickly move to another website. Clicking on such a link could get me hooked on pornography and ruin my life. The choice is mine.
Ephesians 2:10 suggests the nature of success related to accomplishing God’s purposes.: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” God has assigned us with some specific tasks. Achieving those assignments represent success. Getting sidetracked, opting for entertainment or some other form of pleasure, or just being lazy, will result in our failing God’s assigned mission.
So success entails being the type of person God has called us to be and fulfilling His assignments. Ultimately we choose whether we succeed or fail. We come to the end of each day looking back over success or failure. We will come to the end of our lives and look back over accomplishment or disaster.
None of us perfectly realizes God’s design for us as a human being or flawlessly achieves the assignments He has given us. Nonetheless, choices we make will result in our life displaying a pattern of success or a failure.
A great blessing of the Christian life resides in our capacity through the power of the Holy Spirit to make choices that will lead to success. God has placed success within our grasp.
Success Mandates Struggle
However, we do not make those choices spontaneously as believers, but instead they often come hard requiring discipline and endurance. Some people hypothesize regarding a “let go and let God,” “It’s not in trying but interesting,” approach to Christian living that allows us to sail above the sphere of hard choices.
If such a spiritual space exists the apostle Paul was not aware of it since he charged Timothy to fight the good fight of faith, which literally might be translated agonized a good agony of faith. To our knowledge Timothy never wrote back to inform Paul, “I have risen above all those hard choices. I have learned just to let go and let God.”
In that regard, some teach that when Paul says in Ephesians 5:18, “be filled with the Spirit,” he really means, “Be controlled by the Spirit.” That is not what he means or else he would have said it. The reality is that the devil wants to control you but the Holy Spirit does not. To be controlled reduces you to a robot devoid of the capacity to choose. The Holy Spirit desires to encourage you toward godly choices and to empower you to carry out those godly choices, leaving you in the image of God responsible for making those godly choices.
There Are Losers
One of the great contemporary evangelical enemies of success consists of the contingent in advancing the Dodo bird approach to the Christian life, “Everybody has won and all must have prizes.” These sentiments are also expressed in the lyrics, “In heaven’s eyes there are no losers.” This perspective asserts that no Christian is a loser, thus conveying that the capacity for choice is not that significant, that you will be a winner regardless of the choices that you make. This perspective is not only wrong, but its dangerous message can lull people into living a losing life.
I challenge you to acknowledge the significance of the choices that confront you at every given moment and to commit yourself with God’s help that you will finish life as a success.