Four Simple Tips for a Successful Life
Every person has the potential to succeed. However, too few people experience success because failure can be incredibly intimidating and encouragement to overcome is too scarcely supplied.
The Corinthian church was not an exemplary model of health. By the time the Apostle Paul’s letters had reached it, they had faced problems with doctrine, orderly worship, inappropriate relationships in the congregation, legalism, and with being a loving group of people who genuinely cared for each other. In many ways, the Corinthian church was a failure. These failures were on full display and would have been justifiable reasons to close its doors to stop embarrassing the name of Jesus.
Paul, however, was not of that opinion. He saw the same failures that everyone else saw, but where others saw shortcomings, Paul saw potential and promise. Thus, he was compelled to encourage them, writing:
Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen. (2 Corinthians 13:11-14)
While his encouragement does follow strong words of criticism, Paul could not close this letter in a negative tone and leave them hopeless. Rather, he concludes with encouragement that offers four tips for a successful life:
In verse 11, Paul writes “farewell.” The literal translation expresses the true heart of this sentiment:“be of good cheer.” In this, Paul took a simple goodbye sentiment and transformed it into an encouraging exhortation.
“To be of good cheer” means to have a positive, upbeat, optimistic view of the situation you are facing. How often do you face your “now” with a worry or concern about “what’s next?”
That’s understandable. You rarely know what’s going to happen next, even when you think you do. Think about the number of times you have been surprised with news of a death or of a birth, an announcement of a promotion or a termination. Think of the news of cancer or terminal illness, or of the miraculous news of remission or a cure! The ongoing unfolding of your life’s drama illustrates the only reliable truth, which is that God is sovereign over the details of your life.
Only God knows every potential of every potential. Only God is powerful over every detail of every detail. And because of that, you have the opportunity to exercise your faith to be of good cheer, trusting in the good will of God for the ever-unfolding details of your life. To live with this mindset is to walk by faith and not by sight. Even so, you are wise to praise God today for the provision of tomorrow’s blessing.
Paul also wrote, “be complete.” Again, the literal translation perhaps expresses it better, declaring, “perfect yourself,” which means making the necessary repairs or adjustments to accomplish the perfection toward which God exhorts you.
To truly be “of good cheer,” you must be willing to perfect yourself through the conviction, help, and encouragement of the Holy Spirit. This requires you to take the time to stand before the holy, judging discernment of God and say, “show me where I fall short.” If you are a gossip, God wants you to shut your mouth. If you are a hypocrite, God wants you to be consistent. If you are divisive, God wants you to begin working to bring healing. If you are lazy, God wants you to get purposefully busy. God wants you to be cleansed by the forgiveness of the Father and return to fellowship with His Holy Spirit. God’s Word has declared that He has made you complete (see Colossians 2:9-10)! Now it’s time to live as you have been created to be in your new life in Christ.
Paul continued by writing, “be of good comfort.” Once more, the literal translation expands the thought, by exhorting you to “be encouraged by being of the same mind.” There must be unity within the family of God if it is ever to accomplish God’s purposes. Followers of Christ must come to unity on issues that have divided them for years or generations (or by cultures or races), so that they may divide the Body no longer. Individually, each of us must fervently seek the Lord and be willing to do anything and everything possible to close the divide, to heal the wounds, and to move forward toward unity.
Finally, he wrote, “live in peace.” People are more important than a ministry. People are the mission. If a ministry is at the root of a broken relationship, then priorities have been turned upside down at the expense of peace. If the mission pushes people away, it’s the wrong mission. You can’t participate in God’s mission if you refuse to put others before yourself.
If you seek to do these things, “the God of love and peace will be with you.” If God’s people pursue the conditions set forth, God promises the grace of Christ, the love of the Father, and the fellowship of the Spirit. Experiencing the loving, peaceful presence of God is what He intends as the norm, rather than the rare exception.
If you want to experience a successful life marked by spiritual blessings, the commands are clear. Be a faith-filled optimist who expectantly looks for the blessings of God. Always be looking for chances to improve yourself by trusting God more. Pursue unity at all costs and prioritize others.