Are You a Success?

by Bethany

Today’s Readings: Ecclesiastes 8, 2 Timothy 4

The Metrics of Success

At the New York Stock Exchange, success is measured at the end of each trading day when the closing bell rings.  On Capitol Hill, success is measured every other November when constituents go to the polls.  When it comes to our lives, however, when do we measure success?


Paul’s second letter to Timothy was his last.  He was aging and imprisoned.  He knew that his life was ending: “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come” [1].

Paul was an itinerate pastor for over 30 years. He had been deserted, opposed, flogged, beaten, betrayed, imprisoned, shipwrecked, left for dead, and stoned [2].  According to tradition, a few days after he penned this letter, Nero handed down his verdict – he was beheaded as a criminal.

Was Paul successful?

Paul’s Letters

Did his letters bring success to the church at Ephesus, where Timothy was pastor?  According to John, their success was a mixed bag: “ … I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first …” [3].

Did his letters bring success in Timothy’s life?  According to tradition, during the reign of Emperor Nerva in the first century, an idol celebration took place.  Timothy opposed the public frenzy and, in response, the mob became enraged. They beat him, dragged him, and stoned him to death.

Were his letters successful?


What if you’re aging and your health is failing, you’re unemployed and bankrupt, you’re cold, imprisoned and facing execution? Or what if you’ve never married, were born in a stable, and are facing death on a cross?

Success is not measured at the end of our lives; it is measured at the beginning of eternity. Although Paul and Jesus were failures at the end of their lives, they gained immeasurable success in eternity: “Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing” [4].

Are you careful to measure your success in eternal terms rather than in earthly ones?

[1] 2 Timothy 4:4:6, ESV
[2] See 2 Corinthians 11:16-33
[3] John wrote Revelation. Revelation 2:2-7, ESV
[4] 2 Timothy 4:7-8, ESV

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