Sabbath School Lesson for February 18-24, 2023

Overview for Lesson 8, Planning for Success

Memory Text: “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23, 24 NKJV

This week we will explore these topics:

  • Sunday: Making God our priority, especially in our youth
  • Monday: Choosing a good occupation and career path
  • Tuesday: Making our family life the best it can be
  • Wednesday: Doing all we can to glorify God, making changes when needed
  • Thursday: Seeking godly counsel and using biblical principles that lead to a successful life

Most of the world measures success by educational achievements, career advancement, and accumulation of wealth. But God reminds us that there are other vital factors to be considered. Biblical examples, like Joseph and Daniel, rose from being slaves and prisoners to living in a palace. But their success was no greater in God’s eyes than someone like John the Baptist and other prophets, who had a much sadder existence and ending to life.

True success for Christians must be shaped by our faithful stewardship to God. The goal must not be to glorify self, but to glorify our Lord and Savior. Reflecting His character by faithfully carrying out His mission must be our number one goal in life.

By following principles outlined in the Scriptures, we can increase our chance for contentment, peace, and happiness in this troubled, unstable world. Although unforeseen circumstances may appear that tend to derail our earthly success, trusting in God and seeking His guidance can help us get through our trials and difficulties without losing our heavenly inheritance.

Sunday: First Things First

Ecclesiastes 12:1 tells us to remember God when we are young, before the difficult days of adulthood are upon us. Young Jacob, on his hasty flight from home and family, was touched by God and made vows to Him before reaching his destination(Genesis 28:21).

There is wisdom in making our spiritual decision to follow Christ before we choose our lifework and then our spouse. Marriage is a lifelong commitment and it is best entered into with the full consent of both parties, knowing where our faith stands and what we expect of each other in providing for our material needs.

Being equally yoked with another believer is very important, too, as well as choosing a career based on how we can best serve and glorify God (2 Corinthians 6:14, 15).

At any point in our lives, however, we can listen to how Jesus instructs us to prioritize our needs. His counsel to “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” can be applied to our circumstances, no matter where we are on life’s journey (Matthew 6:33). It’s never too late to make Him first and start making better stewardship decisions that will lead to the kind of success we all long for–a satisfying relationship with our heavenly Father.

Bible Verses for Thought and Discussion:

Ecclesiastes 12:1 and Matthew 6:33

  • What advantages are there in choosing to be a disciple when we are young?
  • What cautions should be followed in determining when we are ready for this kind of commitment?
  • Why must we always keep God as our first priority in life?

2 Corinthians 6:14, 15

  • Besides marriage, what other relationships might apply here, and why are they important as well?

Monday: The Blessing of Work (Ideally)

Work was meant to be a blessing for mankind from the very beginning. Before sin, Adam and Eve were told to tend the garden. This useful employment would have blessed them in many ways, as they developed into beings that would increasingly make them suitable companions for their Creator.

Even after sin entered the world, the cursing of the ground, which made it harder to provide for their needs, was also declared by God to be for “your sake” (Genesis 3, 17). In other words, they would still benefit from their increasingly difficult toil of nurturing the fields that would be their sustenance.

Ideally, we can now find careers that we are passionate about and that will provide adequate income for our families throughout our working years. This is often made difficult when we choose a wrong course of action, can not get the training needed for our choice, or are struck down with circumstances or disasters beyond our control.

Bible Verses for Thought and Discussion:

Genesis 3:17

  • How and why was the ground cursed after their disobedience?
  • What kind of blessings does work still provide?

Ecclesiastes 9:10 and 2 Thessalonians 3:8-10

  • What principles found in the Bible can help us achieve financial success?
  • What circumstances might cause someone to be unable to work and require them to receive aid from others?

Tuesday: The Earning Years

Having made the choices to follow God, find and train for our lifework, and begin to establish a family with a lifelong companion, we then find ourselves entering our earning years. Forty or so years of our adult life are spent in working to support ourselves and maintain a family.

Fortunately, for most of us, these years find us at the peak of our physical strength and endurance. There are other factors, however, that can make our families the best they can be.

Providing a Christian home environment which includes not just consistent church attendance, but regular, invigorating family worships, is perhaps the most crucial factor in our success.

Children also fare better when they are taught to value work and practice it in age-appropriate ways. Rewarding them for their diligence and honesty will help them build a work ethic that will improve their chances for future success. Their formal education must also be appreciated and planned for, allowing them to become faithful stewards for God.

Bible Verses for Thought and Discussion:

1 Timothy 5:8

  • Why is it important that we provide for someone besides ourselves?
  • Why should our own family be supported before others?

Colossians 3:23 24

  • What does working hard and doing our best show others about the God we serve?

Proverbs 22:6

  • What are some of the ways we can “train up a child”?
  • Why should parents not blame themselves, if their adult children make bad choices?

Wednesday: Working With Integrity

After our years spent earning a living and raising a family, we typically enter a time known as our retirement years. Depending on how well we’ve been able to plan for them, this period of life can be either greatly satisfying or extremely difficult.

The most important determining factor in how we fare as seniors is the character we have built for ourselves up to that time. Joseph was one who was successful in building such a character. Genesis 39:2-5 describes his hard-working, diligent, honest employment for Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh. His efforts were rewarded and, with that kind of character, we too can gain much satisfaction and joy in our final stage of life.

These verses remind of us of valuable principles that will bolster us during our working years and beyond:

  • 1 Corinthians 10:31–“…whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
  • 1 Chronicles 29:12–“Both riches and honor come from You…In your hand is to make great and to give strength to all.”
  • Proverbs 22:1–“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches…”

Bible Verses for Thought and Discussion:

Genesis 39:2-5

  • What made Joseph a “successful man”?
  • Besides the honored position of overseer, what did Joseph gain from his work for Potiphar?

Proverbs 22:1, 4

  • Why is “a good name” important to us, and to God?
  • How and why does humility lead to a more successful life?

Thursday: Seeking Godly Counsel

Although we are told that it is well to seek multiple counsel from others (Proverbs 11:14, 15:22), we are also warned about consulting with secular, ungodly counsellors (Psalm 1:1). When we adhere to godly principles, we are told in this Psalm that we will be like a tree planted by waters. In other words, our growth in the Lord and success in life will be more assured.

Another error is to trust in our own self, depending on our own resources to be successful. Instead we are strongly advised to trust in the Lord (Proverbs 3:5-8).

Here are some tips for financial success that we find in God’s word:

  1. Be organized. Have a business plan or home budget to guide you. (Proverbs 27:23, 24)
  2. Live within your means. Spend less than you earn. (Proverbs 15:16)
  3. Regularly save a portion of your earnings for support in emergencies. (Proverbs 6:6-8)
  4. Avoid debt, or living on borrowed money. (Proverbs 22:7)
  5. Work diligently. Do your best on the job. (Proverbs 13:4)
  6. Be faithful in your tithes and offerings, making God your financial partner. (Malachi 3:10)
  7. Remember that this life on earth is only temporary. Our destination is the earth made new. (Matthew 6:19)

Bible Verses for Thought and Discussion:

Proverbs 11:14 and Psalm 1:1

  • Why is it important to find godly counselors?
  • How would you describe a godly counselor?

Proverbs 3:5-8

  • In what real or intangible ways do we trust in ourselves, and why is this harmful?

Friday: Final Thoughts

God intends for us to have success in life. We’ve been told that by knowing the Good Shepherd, we can have a more “abundant” life (John 10:10). Thieves can’t take away or destroy the treasures we have hid in our hearts. With God’s help, we can become faithful stewards of heavenly treasures and reap a vast inheritance that will last for eternity.

Ellen White reminds us that the foundation of “true success is the recognition of God’s ownership.” [Education, p. 137] She sums up our path to success by saying that we need to “do our best in the work that lies nearest, to commit our ways to God, and to watch for the indications of His providence.” [Education, p. 267]

It’s a simple formula for success, but only with God as our Partner can it be achieved.

Next Week: Beware of Covetousness

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