Planning for Success

Error message

  • Deprecated function: unserialize(): Passing null to parameter #1 ($data) of type string is deprecated in css_injector_init() (line 53 of /home/krwester/
  • Deprecated function: unserialize(): Passing null to parameter #1 ($data) of type string is deprecated in css_injector_init() (line 53 of /home/krwester/
Proverbs 3, Matthew 6:33
Lesson Number: 

Lesson 8

Planning for Success

(Proverbs 3, Matthew 6:33)

Copr. 2023, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail, but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this link: Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

Introduction: One of the great blessings of my life is that I have the opportunity to help law students plot their future. Recently, a student told me that his goal was to have money. He considered the example of the Dean of our law school. The Dean had been a litigation partner at one of the largest law firms in the United States. After a couple of decades he took a huge reduction in pay and started teaching at the Christian law school where I teach. I pointed out that earning the money first created the difficult problem of having to turn away from money. As an alternative I offered the plan of my life - from the very beginning my goal was to work for God. Although I’ve always worked for a non-profit organization, God has blessed in every way. What do you consider to be success? A tranquil life? A loving family? A job you enjoy? Money? A great house? Great cars? Traveling the world? Let’s dive into our study of the Bible and explore its formula for success!

  1. A Tranquil Life
    1. Read Proverbs 3:1-2. What is the purpose of the commandments? (Keeping the commandments gives you “peace,” “length of days,” and “years of life.”)
      1. These three blessings in Hebrew are orech yamim (long days), shenoth chaiyim (years of life) and shalom (prosperity). Are these the essence of a successful life?
      2. How do you understand “long days?” Does it mean a long work day? That work is difficult and boring? (How many times have you said, “I wish there were more hours in the day?” I think the promise here is that you are able to accomplish the things you need to get done during your day.)
    2. Read Proverbs 3:3-4. What should we “bind” around our neck? I think “bind” means to keep them constantly in mind. (Steadfast love and faithfulness.)
      1. What does steadfast love and faithfulness mean? (Be kind and faithful to others.)
      2. What is the result of doing that? (God and humans will show you favor and help you succeed.)
    3. Read Proverbs 3:5-7. What does it mean to “lean” on your own understanding and to be “wise” in your own eyes? (We need to follow the advice of God rather than our own thoughts about how to succeed.)
      1. What does it mean to acknowledge God rather than yourself? (Give God the credit rather than taking it for yourself.)
      2. Turning away from evil seems clear. What is a “straight path?” (For exercise I ride a recumbent racing trike. The trail I ride is straight, flat, and paved. That allows me to go my maximum speed. A straight path is the fast way forward.)
    4. Jordan Peterson gives very interesting advice on life. He says that we should embrace difficulties because they help us to grow. Read Proverbs 3:11-12. What does this teach us about tranquility? (Problems and criticism teach us the better way. That is the ultimate path to tranquility.)
      1. Are these things that we have discussed applicable to having a tranquil family life?
  2. Material Success
    1. Read Proverbs 3:9-10. Recall that I have this running discussion with my class about whether Malachi 3 is primarily about money or other kinds of blessings. What kind of blessing is promised here? (Material. A full barn and bursting vats mean that you had material success.)
      1. What does this require? (That you give God the “first fruits,” that you honor Him with your wealth.)
    2. Read Ecclesiastes 12:1. Recall from my introduction the Dean’s path in life versus my plan? Which does this favor? (It favors putting God first from the very beginning for the reason I suggested - it is hard to change course later in life. However, God needs His people in all strata of society. There would be nothing wrong with the Dean staying at a powerful law firm and being a witness to Christ.)
      1. A huge problem for American lawyers is that after a decade or two they become unhappy with their job. No doubt this is true for some other careers. Is that what is meant by “I have no pleasure in them?” (That is one reasonable conclusion. Making money is a constant challenge. It might not be very gratifying.)
    3. Re-read Proverbs 3:3. If you have a job where you are helping others will you ever get tired of it? (If those you help are grateful you will never get tired of your job.)
    4. Read Matthew 6:33. What is God’s formula for success and a tranquil life? (Seek first God’s Kingdom.)
      1. What would that look like as a practical matter? (Promoting God’s Kingdom has priority. That would be priority in time and priority in importance. If you are teaching this lesson, it would mean to study it first in your morning. It would mean that you cannot let other responsibilities push it to the last thing you do in the week.)
  3. Work
    1. Read Genesis 2:15. In a perfect garden, why would humans need to work?
      1. Of all the kinds of work they could do, why would God pick gardening?
    2. Read Genesis 3:17-19. Is work no longer our friend? Has our relationship to work radically changed since the Garden of Eden?
      1. What, exactly, has happened to work? (It has become a lot harder. The effort to produce food has greatly increased.)
      2. Why would God do that? Is this retribution? Vengeance? Or something else? (I vote for something else. First, it is a reminder that keeping God’s commands makes your life easier. Second, we learn from challenges, and clearly humans needed to learn more.)
    3. Read Deuteronomy 31:6-7. If you want to possess something, what is required? (To be “strong and courageous.”)
      1. Will challenges make you strong and courageous? (Work contains challenges and therefore it helps us to become strong and courageous.”
      2. When my father was young, he went through the “Great Depression” and thereafter found himself part of the invasion of Normandy. He was wounded three times and spent 33 months in a war zone. Some young people today are so fragile they cannot hear an opposing argument. How do we fix weak and timid men? (The solution suggested in Genesis 3 is hard work.)
    4. Read 1 Corinthians 10:31 and Colossians 3:23-24. How should we work? (We should work in a way that reflects glory to God. We view our job as working for God, not humans. We seek excellence.)
      1. Would you like someone with that attitude working for you?
      2. If you are a worker with this attitude, are you likely to face a religious liberty problem at work? (I regularly use the law to protect the religious liberty of employees in the workplace. However, I am convinced that in a small workplace (where the owners know you) the best protection for your faith is being a worker that your employer does not want to lose.)
    5. Read Proverbs 16:2-3. Can we deceive ourselves about our motives at work? (This suggests that we cannot trust our self.)
      1. How do we avoid this problem? (By committing our work to God.)
    6. Read Proverbs 16:7. Have you ever heard someone claim that the reason they have trouble at work is because of their religious beliefs? They say that if you were a better Christian, you too would suffer at work. What is the lesson in this text? (It admits we will have enemies. But if you are a great worker who pleases God, He will run interference for you in the workplace.)
    7. Friend, do you want to succeed in life? Put God first. That means obey the commandments He created for your benefit. It means that a priority for your money and your time is advancing God’s kingdom. It means looking at challenges and criticism as a way to become better. Why not decide right now, to follow God’s path for success?
  4. Next week: Beware of Covetousness.