Success Begins in the Heart
"Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty. Neither do I concern myself with great matters, nor with things too profound for me." Psalms 131:1
In the Psalms of Degrees (Psalm 120-134), King David gives us principles for success and promotion which he has proven in his own life. Whether a king, business manager, pastor or head of a household, these principles are timeless and will always work.
David is an example of a man who did many things wrong, but still enjoyed great promotion, fortune, fame - and a special place in the heart of God. Despite his episode with Bathsheba and a score of other sins, David was still called "a man after God's own heart" (Acts 13:22). Many believers today wonder, "How can this be?"
David knew a secret. The Bible tells us, "Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7) David was not judged by God for his actions, but was judged for his heart.
If God had to make a choice, He would rather our actions be wrong and our heart be right, than our heart to be wrong and our actions right. God rebuked Israel many times in the Old Testament for hardness of heart. The people said they loved the Lord with their lips and actions, but their hearts were far from Him (Isaiah 29:13).
In contrast, David maintained a heart after God. He was quick to repent and seek the face of God. He endured the Lord's chastening after many of his sins, but always rose higher, becoming a better man and a better king than before.
Purity of Heart
David knew that sin begins in the heart, not with the actions, and if you keep your heart pure, you will keep your life pure. Solomon, David's son, recorded his father's wise words in Proverbs 4. "Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put perverse lips far from you. Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you. Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or the left; remove your foot from evil." (Proverbs 4:23-27)
Since the mouth, eyes, hands and feet are all controlled by the heart, both sins of the tongue and sins of action are easier to keep in check when the heart is kept pure before God.
Freedom From Arrogance
Not only did David keep his heart pure before the Lord, he also kept it free from pride. He shares this secret of success in Psalm 131:1. "Lord, my heart is not haughty (Hebrew word "gabahh" - proud, arrogant), nor my eyes lofty (Hebrew word "ruwm" - looking for ways of self promotion)..."
Arrogance is exaggerated self-esteem. It is the source of the original sin of Lucifer (Isaiah 14:12-14, Ezekiel 28:16) and the source of all personal sin in the believer's life. The Hebrew of Proverbs 16:18 says, "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."
This root cause of sin puts the arrogant person into competition with everyone around, causing them to condescend to those they consider beneath them and be jealous of those who seem better. They are too proud to admit their own weaknesses or recognize anyone else's strengths. An arrogant person feels they must always prove to everyone that they are better than others. They attempt to control every conversation and situation.
The arrogant person can tell the woman how to be a better house-wife, the businessman how to better manage his company, the computer operator the newest technology, the football player how to pass or tackle, and the auto mechanic how to best tune an engine. The arrogant can teach others, but cannot be taught themselves. How can you teach someone who knows everything?
Arrogant people consider themselves God's gift to the whole world. Arrogance is the only disease which makes everyone sick except the one who has it!
The Arrogant and the Confident
The enemy of the arrogant is the relaxed, self-confident person. Arrogant people do not understand someone who is willing to let everyone be themselves and have their peculiarities.
The arrogant and the confident travel two very different roads to success. The arrogant are always trying to work every situation for their own benefit. Just like Lucifer, they have a blatant disregard for authority because they consider themselves better than those in charge. They go over their boss' head to the president. They lie about those in authority and work both sides for their own good.
In contrast, people who are truly secure know that the God Who gave can give again. They also know that people who steal will not be happy. They have discovered that possessions do not bring happiness.
David did not gain his happiness from things. David was happy when he watched over his father's sheep. He was happy when he lived in a cave on the run from Saul and the armies of Israel, because his happiness came from the Lord.
David was a mystery to many in his kingdom who were striving for higher positions. Many of them probably thought David was simple-minded and ignorant of the true road to success. Yet David was very perceptive and well-practiced in the ways of life. As King, David witnessed many people trying to promote themselves into positions which only God could give. David had seen their kind before and would see them again.
Enemies of God
The arrogant may achieve some short-term success, but they never stay ahead because they are fighting the Lord. Not only do the arrogant consider themselves smarter than God. They set themselves up as the enemy of God.
God loves true humility in a person, but hates pride and conceit. The Hebrew of Proverbs 3:34 says, "God sets Himself in battle array against the arrogant, but gives grace to the humble." These words of David's were given to Solomon: success principles handed down from one generation to the next.
A confident person recognizes his own virtues, but quickly gives the credit to those who helped and contributed to create those virtues. Confident people credit parents, teachers, friends and the Lord for making them who they are. The believe anyone can attain these virtues. The arrogant, on the other hand, believe they have always had these virtues and are therefore the teachers of others. They believe that few, if any, can attain to their level.
Some do not understand how David can recognize his own humility. If you talk about how humble you are, are you truly humble? Isn't admitting humility a sign of arrogance? We have confused the issue, saying, "Humility is a virtue to obtain, but the one possessing this virtue cannot recognize it." This comes from a misunderstanding of arrogance. David was not arrogant but confident. The proud mistake arrogance for confidence. Often the humble mistake confidence for arrogance.
Freedom from arrogance made David a true leader. People enjoyed his presence and felt uplifted when they left. David could truly give to the poor and receive from the rich. He was relaxed around both the uneducated and the wise. All of David's praise went to the Lord Who had made him a success and Who would further promote him.
Are You Indispensable?
The problem with the arrogant is they take themselves too seriously. You can take your ministry and mission in life seriously, but not yourself. You are not indispensable. The task is important, but God can get anyone to do it. God got along fine before you came along and He will get along fine when you are gone.
The important thing is the message you carry. In the early days of our country, the mail was delivered by the pony express. One rider was met by another who had just finished his ride. The new rider would then carry the mail and meet another rider many miles away, who would then pick up the bag and carry it on. The individual messengers were not important, the mail was.
We are carrying messages from God's heart into the world. The message is important, not the messenger. We are just a rider, a link, in God's pony express.
God Promotes the Humble
God is in the business of taking nobodies and making somebodies out of them. Every hero of the Word of God was a nobody who one day met God.
Elijah forgot that principle one day as he sat in a cave feeling sorry for himself (1 Kings 19:10-19). He reminded God that everyone had torn down the altars and forsaken God except for him. God told him that there were still seven thousand who had not bowed their knee. Then, God told him that his ministry was over and his new replacement, Elisha, would be found plowing a field. Elijah would be replaced by a farmer.
Perhaps you have thought that you are more important to God than you really are. Maybe, like Elijah, you have thought of yourself as indispensable. There have been many ministers fall in the past few years in our own country who thought the same thing. Years after their fall, the kingdom of God still continues. God resists the arrogant and gives their ministry to the humble.
King David is a great example for us. He was a shepherd who fellow-shipped with God and was promoted to be King. He kept his heart pure and humble and let God be God. David is gone but his lesson on humility, Psalm 131, still lives on, telling us God's secrets for true success.