There are a lot of people in the world who will tell you how to succeed in life. For many of them, your success – according to their presentation – often seems to require buying their book or purchasing their product! Now, there is plenty of wise advice out there, so I’m not putting everyone into the same category. Still, empirical evidence suggests that not everyone is going to become healthy, wealthy, and popular by just following a random set of suggestions from the marketplace.
In this article, I’m not going to tell you that I came up with the secret of living a successful life filled with wealth and popularity. I am not going to tell you to buy my books (although you’re welcome to do so). However, I can attest to a proven solution, given to humankind by God Himself. And, not only can I attest to the effectiveness of this solution from my own experience (and provide testimony from millions of others), but I can also do so without standing to make any money if you benefit from it.
Here it is, from the message that God gave to Joshua when he succeeded Moses as the leader of the people of Israel:
Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.
Joshua 1:8 NLT
Some might point out that we’re not Joshua, and that the “Book of Instruction” that he had access to is only a portion of the Scriptures that God has inspired since then. However, other passages like 2 Timothy 3:14-17 confirm that all Scripture is valuable.
So, what does this success plan look like?
The first step in the verse above is to study God’s Word. And, studying a book usually requires reading or listening to it (there’s no reason you can’t use the audio version, here). Get online (I often use https://www.biblegateway.com/) or download an app (I use YouVersion’s Bible app), and start reading it. Or, get a Bible from a friend or a local church. Pick a version that has been translated into the language and style that you understand best (unless you want to learn Hebrew and Greek to read it in the original languages, but that can take a while).
At this point, many people’s lives have been changed by just reading the Bible, but there’s even more to discover if you start to study it. You can dig in on your own, evaluating how different parts of the Bible connect together, and reading larger portions to understand the bigger picture. You can also get help, in the form of books, videos, or in-person teaching from other people who have taken the time to get into the details of the language, culture, and traditions of people who first received the various books of the Bible.
The next steps in this verse are to meditate and obey. “Meditation” sounds a little weird, but this is just thinking about what you’ve studied. Spend some time remembering what you got from the Bible each day, and ask God to show you how it fits in with His plan for you.
The last step is where “book learning” makes a difference. When we realize the truth taught in the Bible, and discover that God loves us and wants us to be blessed beyond measure, we also learn that we need to take a step towards Him in order to accept His gift of restoration and salvation. We also find that God has lots of good advice for how we can live well: after all, He designed us, created us, and knows what will give us meaning as part of His great, loving plan for humankind.
Now, I’m not going to tell you that you’ll get the car, house, and boat of your dreams if you just read the Bible. However, if we want to “prosper and succeed” according to God’s will, we should never expect to do so without a strong focus on God’s Word.
As a result, we do find that success can come from a book, but not just any book. You can buy a copy (although it’s also available for free), but the author doesn’t need your money. And, the one who benefits first from this book isn’t other people or God, it’s you!
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.