By Lauren Maggs.
“How was your day?” I know that I usually answer that question by listing what I did. I am constantly trying to assess whether I have achieved anything meaningful in my day. I often rely on what I have done being the measure for success. However, being home with my daughter has challenged my thinking on this. I rarely have anything to show for my day. The house is still untidy, and I haven’t got to any of the work I thought I would. How can I measure success when I have no tasks ticked off my list?
More importantly, how do I know I’ve had the type of day that is counted as successful by God?
Perhaps you find yourself in a stage of life where you feel like you have very little to show for your day. Our world may measure success on how busy one is but what does God’s Word have to say about this? How does His Word direct our thinking about what a successful day as a Christian looks like? Here are a few things that the Word tells us matter more than a completed to do list:
When Jesus was questioned about what the most important commandment was, he responded by saying, “ Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). Of all the things we need to do, loving God needs to be right at the top of the list. We cannot count our day as successful if we have ticked off every item on our to-do list, but we have not whole-heartedly sought to love God. We grow our love for him by reading the Bible, by praying and by meeting with his people. If you are wondering if you have done anything of value with your day, ask yourself if you have grown in love for your Father in Heaven.
Jesus followed the commandment to love God with: “The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.” (Mark 12:31) We are called to love others. We have multiple opportunities to express this throughout the day. We can greet, pray for, serve, telephone or message others. Whether in a busy office or in a quiet home, there are others we can love and serve. This love is an expression of the love we first received from Christ. Loving others marks us out as followers of Jesus and brings him glory. Let your day show that you loved others.
If you are in a stage of life where you have no audience, it can be tempting to let yourself off the hook when it comes to your daily walk with the Lord. We say to ourselves, “Who will know if I give in to sin and temptation today?” Why is it that we feel more accountable to people than to God? How easily we forget that God sees all and knows our hearts intimately. He is the audience we should be most eager to honour and obey. The Word repeatedly reminds us of the value of perseverance. It is how we honour the Lord, whether it is seen by anyone else or not. James 1:4 reminds us, “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” A day that the Lord counts as successful is one in which we quietly seek to keep living for him.
When our worldly achievements don’t seem to amount to much we can easily fall into the trap of feeling discouraged and bitter. In this way we count our achievements as the source of our joy. However, as Christians, we have a different source of joy – our relationship with God. If we are convinced that God is in control of all of life we can rest in any stage of life we find ourselves in. We can be joyfully content with our lot. Instead of longing for something different, we can thank God that He has given us what He knows is best in each season. 1 Timothy 6:6 reminds us that “…godliness with contentment is great gain.” Contentment is a beautiful expression of our faith in God’s goodness and providence. A successful day as a Christian is one in which we can joyfully embrace all we have received from the hand of God.
Whether we have a completed to-do list or a messy house to show for our day, let us first strive to have days that glorify our Father in heaven by remembering that we don’t need to earn His love by being successful. Instead, because of what Christ has done for us on the cross, we can express our love for Him by prioritizing what He values each day.