Today’s Scripture: Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Joshua 1:7–8

You need life-saving surgery. There are only two surgeons in the country who can help you. One surgeon has performed 160 operations, but none of them have been successful. The other surgeon has performed 13 operations with 11 successful. Who would you rather have performing the surgery? The one with the best results.

Results matter in sports, too. While a coach might tell his players winning isn’t everything; he and they know at the end of the season winning is what separates a playoff team from a team that watches from the sidelines. It’s what determines whether a coach stays for another season or loses his job. It’s what draws fans and brings in money. It does not matter how well they played or how many points they scored. The bottom line is whether or not they won the game.

The same is true of teaching and preaching. As a preacher, I can get up in front of 1,000 people and talk for a half hour about any subject. If my sermon does not result in spiritual growth, salvation of souls, or changed lives, then I have wasted my breath. A teacher can earn a wall full of degrees and spend hours studying his material, but if he cannot teach in a way that students can understand and apply, then he is no better than the unsuccessful surgeon or the losing coach. Effort is worthless without results.

The results we should be looking for are not bigger crowds, more church members, or even more souls won to Christ. We need to focus on the bottom line, pleasing God. We do this by trusting and obeying His Word. The Bible tells us this is success.

Instead of grading your personal life on a scale of how many friends or accomplishments you have, measuring your ministry by how many people follow you, or judging your spiritual maturity by how many Bible verses you can quote, think about the bottom line. Are you pleasing God? Nothing else matters. Now live like you believe it — that’s success.

Devotional by Dr. James A. Scudder