“Be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” (Joshua 1:7-8)
These words were spoken to Joshua as he was preparing to take over leadership of the people of God. Moses, arguably the greatest individual in the Old Testament, had just died. While the people now stood on the banks of the Jordan river with the chance to enter the promised land, the question that had to enter many minds was would they be faithful this time. They had been given the chance forty years earlier to enter the land, but because of fear, they chose not to enter. Now, as they stand on the banks of the River a second time, God is reminding Joshua to be faithful. Three times in the first nine verses of the book God tells Joshua to be strong and courageous. Clearly, God did not want them to be led by fear a second time. However while having courage was important for Joshua, his success was based more on his faithfulness to the law than anything else. God tells Joshua to do everything according to the law. Do not turn to the right or to the left. Meditate on it day and night and be careful to do everything according to what is written in it. It was following the law that led to success. It was following the law that made his life prosper.
I imagine Bible reading won’t appear on too many lists of character traits or tools needed to find success in business or in life. Yet it’s interesting that God ties Joshua’s success to his willingness to meditate on the Law and stay faithful to it on a daily basis. Now, if success is defined by climbing the corporate ladder, making lots of money, acquiring possessions, or being viewed as famous by society, then Bible reading will probably not help very much. However, if success is viewed as living a good life, being respected by peers, finding contentment and peace, and leaving a positive legacy for those that will follow you, then meditating on and staying true to the words revealed in scripture would be the best formula for success.
It’s interesting how quickly, even in church counseling situations, when someone is struggling we offer advice that involves everything except meditating on scripture. If a marriage is struggling we find advice from counselors. If there is an addiction such as alcohol or drugs we point individuals toward AA meetings. If a stressful job situation is causing problems we advise with interpersonal skills. All of these suggestions are appropriate, and should be examined. But we may be avoiding the most important advice, meditating on scripture.
Why is meditating on scripture so vital to success? Because having a close relationship with God is vital to success. Again, not success as it is often defined by the world, but success as God would define living a good life, a life you can be proud of. Marriage advice is great, but the best thing that will help your marriage be stronger is being transformed into the image of God and loving your spouse the same way Christ would. AA meetings can be very helpful and friendships developed in those settings can help provide positive influences for sobriety, but the best help in fighting addictions is embracing the truth that God is the only one that can fill the void in your life, not alcohol, drugs, or some other device. And learning to understand people, issues, and what is really driving conflict will make work relationships much more pleasant and productive, but what may help even more is learning to embody the love of Christ in everything that you do.
We need to hear and take to heart the words that God gave to Joshua for success. We need to spend more time daily in scripture: reading, listening, and meditating on the words of God. We need to carve out time each day to cultivate our relationship with God. This is what will lead to success. This is what will make us more productive. This is what will help us confront any “problem” we are facing.
Cultivate your relationship with God and notice the difference it will make in your life.