Walking the Narrow Path
When this life is over and you stand before the Creator to give an account for how you lived, what will you say? That you worked hard, had a beautiful home, and took your family on some wonderful vacations? Or that you readily and obediently served Him, striving to become like Jesus in all you said and did?
After death, all our accomplishments will be laid out before the Lord to be judged. At that point, it won’t make any difference how much praise you received, how far you advanced in your job, or how much money you accumulated. The only thing that will matter is what God thinks about how you’ve used the abilities, gifts, and opportunities He gave you.
The Bible is full of wise advice, which, when put into practice, could lead to earthly prosperity—but it may not. The important issue is whether your primary desire is to follow the Lord or to achieve earthly prosperity. When someone is devoted to Christ and walking obediently with Him regardless of the consequences, he can be successful in the eyes of both the world and God.
Psalm 1 offers a description of how to walk the narrow path of godly success—by following certain biblical principles from day to day. You can begin practicing them now, with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Be careful about your relationships: The first verse of Psalm 1 deals with relationships and advocates avoiding three practices if we want to please God. This is a very important issue because bad company can lead us down the wrong path.
Do not walk in the counsel of the wicked. We’ll never be truly successful if we seek direction from those who don’t know the Lord. This applies to every area of life—business, finances, relationships, or whatever. Someone’s impressive degree or extensive experience is no guarantee that his advice is godly. We should even be cautious about accepting guidance from other Christians, because not all believers are spiritually mature and wise. Their advice may actually be more worldly than godly. The only way to guard our path is to prayerfully compare all counsel to Scripture. If there is any contradiction, disregard that advice because it will not lead where the Lord wants you to go.
Don’t stand in the path of sinners. Although you may have to live or work with those on the wrong path, you don’t have to participate in their practices. The world has its own set of rules for achieving success, but Christians are called to live by a higher standard. When others urge you to compromise and do what you know is wrong, don’t be afraid to stand alone on God’s path. We’re called to be the light of the world, not to blend in with its darkness. The Lord places us among unbelievers so they can see the Savior in us (Matt. 5:14-16). If He wants to advance you in your workplace, He will do it in His way and time.
Do not sit in the seat of scoffers. If you’re wondering who the scoffers are, just turn on your television (perhaps this means we shouldn’t sit in front of that screen too long). The world is full of people who ridicule God, His people, and His Word. They attack with foul language or belittle with intellectual babble. Believers should never get too comfortable with them. Although we’re called to be Christ’s witnesses to a lost world, we’d be wise to draw lines of protection in our associations so that we’re not negatively influenced or led astray.
The world and all its pleasures offer nothing in comparison to the peace of knowing Jesus Christ.
Be committed to God’s Word: Psalm 1:1 deals with the negatives—what not to do— but the second verse tells us what positive practices to incorporate into our lives so that we can be truly successful.
Delight in the law of the Lord. A person who delights in God’s Word doesn’t have to be told to read it, because he longs for it. The Bible contains amazing riches for those who are willing to open it and let divine truth penetrate their hearts. Scripture reveals the Lord, renews the mind, increases faith, and satisfies the soul. But if we neglect it, we’re going to live like spiritual beggars—always hungry and never satisfied.
Meditate on God’s Word day and night. Biblical meditation is the practice of letting Scripture soak into our souls and change our lives. It’s an unhurried process of thinking deeply about what a particular passage is saying to you. You’re not looking for information but for personal application. It’s interactive because while you’re reading and thinking about the verses, you’re also talking with the Lord and asking Him questions.
When I meditate on a passage, I’ll often ask Him the following:
• Do these verses mention any warnings or things that I should avoid?
• Is there a truth I need to understand?
• Have You promised anything which I have not yet believed?
• Are there any blessings You want me to enjoy?
The key to meditating on Scripture is perseverance and patience. There’s treasure buried in God’s Word, but those who only scratch the surface will never find it. If you want to have a truly successful life, you must make this practice a regular part of your routine. Just skimming over a chapter each morning will not ignite a desire for the Word or bring about the transformation the Lord wants to accomplish in your life.
The rewards of godly success
If you will faithfully guard your relationships and make the Word of God a priority, you can expect some amazing results. Psalm 1:3 paints a beautiful picture of what life is like when a person has chosen the Lord’s pathway to success.
Firmly established: “He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water.” Whenever you follow God’s principles, you’ll have incredible stability no matter what life throws at you. Though the storm winds howl and blow, you can stand unmoved, because your roots have tapped into the eternal stream of Christ’s life flowing through you. The world and all its pleasures offer nothing in comparison to the peace, contentment, and security of intimately knowing Jesus.
Abundantly fruitful: “He will be like a tree . . . which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither.” Genuine success isn’t measured by stuff, but by fruit. Christ told His disciples that the only way they could bear fruit was to abide in Him (John 15:4). All our accomplishments will amount to nothing if we don’t let Christ live His life through us. When His indwelling Spirit is actively transforming our character and equipping us to accomplish whatever He’s called us to do, we’ll be like trees that produce a continuous harvest. There are only two options in life. We can either live for ourselves and produce “chaff which the wind drives away” (v. 4) or bear lasting fruit that glorifies God and benefits others.
Genuinely prosperous: “In whatever he does, he prospers.” We need to rid ourselves of the notion that prosperity always involves riches, prestige, or fame. Those are not true signs of success from God’s perspective. The issue is whether you’re following His will and seeking to glorify Him in all things.
The Lord will enable you to become truly successful—if you let Him. But you must remember that there are two different kinds of prosperity: spiritual and material. God’s priority is always the spiritual. Which kind of success are you pursuing? You are on the right track if your love for the Lord and His Word are increasing, your character is becoming more like Jesus’, and your goal in life is to walk in God’s will. Wherever you are on the path, whether at the beginning or somewhere in the middle, focus on Christ—and keep walking.
The article was selected from In Touch magazine.