I'm Successful -- So Why am I Not Fulfilled?
By Pam Eason
Jesus Christ said he came to give you abundant life and rest. Isn’t that what you yearn for – a meaningful, peaceful life – a fulfilled life? Christ offers it. So, why don’t you have it?
The Apostle Paul, speaking to Roman Christians, proposes an argument about why unrighteous people, people disapproved of by God, are not living the life Christ promised. Paul’s lecture, found in Romans 1:18-22, can be summed up as follows:
Their Attitudes and Actions: They claim to be wise but are foolish because they exchange the truth about God for a lie. They don’t acknowledge God; they do not honor God as God or give Him thanks. They exchange God’s glory for images resembling human beings and animals; they worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator.
The Result: Their thinking becomes futile; they become fools with darkened hearts. They dishonor their bodies. God gives them up to debased minds to do what they shouldn’t. They are filled with evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy murder, strife, deceit. They are malicious, gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, and ruthless. And, they give approval to others who are like them.
So what does all this have to do with being successful and not being fulfilled?
It is this. Unfulfilled people have exchanged the truth of God for a lie. The lie is that human goals and accomplishments can satisfy. Human achievement can save from feelings of inadequacy and insignificance. The lie says, “Look to your own human accomplishments to provide what you need, acceptance, and self-worth. Worship your achievements. Look to them as providers, serve them as gods”.
This foolish thinking produces the evil things Paul mentions. Self-worth and approval depend on personal successes and failures. Failures produce despair and envy. Successes produce smugness. Despair and envy produce faithlessness, hatred, striving, and cruelty. Smugness produces boastfulness, haughtiness, and meanness. And so, on and on the wickedness goes.
But the truth is God gave the gift of real salvation. Christ lived a perfect life. Believe in Him, and His perfection will be assigned to you. So when thoughts like, “You’re not good enough,” come to mind, you can say, “No I’m not, but Christ is, and God has credited the life Jesus Christ lived to me. So, now I don’t have to look to my successes to save my reputation, make me lovable, or create my value.”
Ultimately, only God’s approval counts. Believe in Jesus Christ, and God’s total approval of Him will be assigned to you.
And if God is for you, does it really matter who is against you? If God is for you, do you really have to be in competition? If God is for you, does it really matter what people think about you – good or bad?
This truth about God frees you to rest in what God has done through his son. All your useless striving can cease. This truth frees you to be a loving person. And this truth frees you to live for a different purpose.
This new purpose is to honor God as God – to acknowledge God for who He is. This is what it means to glorify God. This is the truth Paul was speaking of. This acknowledging of God as the only Provider and the only Savior is the reason for all your doing. It is why you are a parent, a student, or a worker. It is why you are rational and creative. It is what brings significance, joy, and satisfaction.
When you acknowledge God as God, you will not live like the unrighteous Romans. You will want to thank Him for his salvation and provisions. You will want to devote your life to knowing and honoring Him. You will want to look to Him only to fulfill your needs. Satisfaction will grow. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control will fill your life (Galatians 5:22). You will be fulfilled.
Ask God to open your eyes so you can see Him as He is. Then rest in His acceptance. Live meaningfully by acknowledging Him.
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Pam Eason is a freelance writer and co-author of, God, Me, & My In-Law
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