Timeless Truth for Young Believers: Vanity of Self-Centered Success

When do you think you’ll really be able to say that you’ve “made it”? When you have arrived, achieved success, and you can hold your head high because of what you have accomplished? What does that look like? How do you get there? Have you stopped to think of the vanity of self-centered success? It is empty, meaningless, and short-lived.

I am sure you are wise enough to learn from the good example of others. But remember, you can learn not only from good people, but also from the mistakes and poor examples of bad people. In the Book of Esther, the lives of Mordecai and Esther teach us great lessons based on their courage, convictions, and confidence in God’s providence. But Ahasuerus the king and Haman his chief of staff also teach us valuable lessons.

Ahasuerus was famous; no doubt about it. But one of the problems with fame is that it breeds a sense of power which creates a thirst for more power. With fame and power comes pride. Ahasuerus’ behavior toward his wife, Vashti, does not reflect honor or love, but pride and self-centeredness. Not surprisingly, all of this leads to frustration in his relationship and his anger burns out of control. He has conquered cities and achieved top status in the kingdom, but God says, “Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city” (Prov 16:32, ESV). All the fame you achieve between 7 am and 6 pm will seem empty if you come home every day to the frustration of an unhappy and disappointed family. Good relationships and self-centered success aren’t compatible.

It is not wrong to be successful at school and work. The Bible exalts hard work and encourages you to be a good employee. Being a top student or getting promoted at work is not evil. The issues are: How is it achieved? How is it handled? Success must be attained with integrity and possessed in humility. But when Haman was promoted, he showed three shameful side effects to self-centered success. First was an Inability to be Satisfied. He is second to the king, feted by the queen, but raging because one solitary, lowly man won’t honor him. “The eyes of man are never satisfied” (Prov 27:20). Second was a Focus on Self (Esther 5:11-12). Do you ever talk to people who consume the conversation with MY car, MY boyfriend, MY job, MY apartment, MY trophies. What is your reaction to them? Third was a Joy at others’ Expense. He’s pathetic, really. I think the NHT rendering of Romans 12:15 reads, “Rejoice with those that weep” (Copyright, New Haman Translation).

God will resist the proud, but give grace to, and exalt, the humble (1Peter 5:5-7). “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matt 6:33, ESV). And if you want a life worthy of honor, take a few minutes to carefully read Philippians 2.