Liberated from the Success Bug

By Pastor Maina, Lifespring Chapel Embakasi

We are pretty early in the New Year and as is typical of this season every year we are full of expectations. It is the sense of a new beginning and heightened hope of better things that motivates us to set ambitious resolutions for the New Year. But then December soon gets here and we are worn out and discouraged. It is disappointing to set goals and end the year having not accomplished many of them. If your case is different you will probably have met your target and superseded. You will either have a sense of achievement or beat yourself up for having aimed too low.

I suggest that we stop making resolutions. My observation of resolution and conclusion about resolution making is that it often has me at the centre. Resolutions are mostly about me accomplishing some feat in the year. In some cases, resolutions are informed by what we see. In our limited experience we desire to have what we see someone else having, we desire that which we lack, we desire to advance to a known place, we desire things and accomplishments. This by no means is to say you should have no ambition. On the contrary, I hope today I can challenge you not to limit your ambition to the finite.

Read: Matthew 6

This passage comes early on in Jesus’ ministry. The first 2 chapters of this Gospel according to Matthew pointed on the significance and the events at Jesus’ birth. The 3rd and 4th chapters was the period of preparation for Jesus’ ministry. It is in these chapters that Jesus is baptized and tested in the wilderness. He called his disciples and begun teaching and healing throughout Galilee. The word of his ministry spread far and wide and crowds started gathering around him to hear his teaching.

The pulpit he uses here is a mountain. The common title of the passages between chapter 5 and 7 is the Sermon on the Mount. This was a symbolic start of his ministry. The teachers of the law at the time would teach from the seat of Moses. They would teach from the temple in Jerusalem. Such were places of authority. Here we see the Lord of the law not having a pulpit to use and instead he picks a mountain in Galilee. This was not one of the prominent mountains at the time. Jesus seems as though to be declaring that the Good News is not limited to certain instruments of authority. Up one mountain Moses brought the law to the people and here we see up another Jesus is giving a new law.

As we look at this passage, look at it with new eyes. That Jesus was teaching this to set the foundations of the Kingdom as God desired. He was confronting the ways of the time with a new way.

Take care not to do your good works before men, to be seen by them; or you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. (Mat 6:1 BBE)

This passage begins with a warning. Jesus understood the context of the people at the time. Their life, and especially religious observance, was informed by an audience. The audience of others. He is warning us here to be careful not to miss out on the original intention, which is the reward from Heaven, by playing to an audience here on earth. Consider the things you have set out to accomplish in this New Year. It is possible that you have a list. Who is the audience of that list? Are you pursuing health goals because it is what God wants you to do or are you doing it because you do not like how you look? Why do you desire career advancement? Is your growth driven by pressure from others? Is it to please your parents? Is it so that when you meet your peers you can flash your business card at them?

Jesus is warning us here to TAKE CARE lest we will miss the reward from heaven.

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