Often the difference between success and failure is attitude. What determines that one sibling achieves success and another does not? Are they not raised in the same environment and have the same opportunity for success? Do they not have the same “excuses” for failure? Please note that I said excuses and not reasons. More often than not, the difference comes down to attitude and individual determination. Too often we can find excuses for our actions, but can we really find legitimate reasons?
Please permit me to give a Biblical illustration to explain my thinking because our attitude often determines whether we see things as opportunities or obstacles. From Numbers Chapters 13 and 14 we read the story about Joshua, Caleb, and the ten other men sent by Moses to spy out the land of Canaan, prior to the Israelites entering the Promised Land. When the twelve men returned with their report, ten stated that the land did overflow with milk and honey and fruit, but its inhabitants were giants and their cities were fortified. Ten of these men saw too many obstacles to overcome. Joshua and Caleb stated that the land was an exceedingly good land and that it could be taken by the Israelites. All twelve men saw the giants and that the land was flowing with milk and honey and the fruit. The fruit was clusters of grapes so large that a branch with a single cluster had to be carried on a pole between two men. What was the difference in the ten spies and Joshua and Caleb? It was their attitude. All twelve saw the giants and the grapes. God told all of them that He would be with them, just like He tells us today. Ten saw obstacles and two saw opportunity for victory and to enter the Promised Land. Ten said, “We cannot do this.” Joshua and Caleb said, “With God on our side, the victory is ours.” All twelve had the same opportunity for victory and success. Each one of us has the ability to “see the grapes of opportunity instead of the giants of failure.” Does our attitude not determine whether we “enter the Promised Land” of our lives?
Another Biblical example would be the prophet Daniel. Daniel had been taken captive in Babylon. He was a young man in captivity in a foreign country. You would think he would be bitter and angry—and that he would work against his captors and try to undermine them. Or you might think he would do whatever crossed his mind—morally or not—because, after all, he was in a foreign country and no one would know of his actions. What difference would it make? He had been dealt a bad hand and was in an immoral environment. Who would be affected but him if he did not do the right thing? After all, it was his life and Daniel had “excuses” to not try and give his best. This is where Daniel’s attitude determines the direction of his life. From Daniel 1:8 the Bible states, “But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.” The key word here is resolved. To be resolved means to have a firm determination to make the most of our life. It means that Daniel determined, in advance and at a young age, the course for his life.
Is this not the same for all of us? Yes, we can find “excuses” to not try and succeed. Or we can be resolved, just like Daniel, to give our best and contribute to the success of ourselves and others. To take advantage of the opportunities this great Nation presents to anyone willing to work and sacrifice. We can determine that we will be givers and not takers.
When we start to school, is it not the objective to advance and progress each year and to increase our learning? Do athletic teams not practice to improve instead of staying the same throughout the season? Why should our work and careers be any different? We should be striving to grow and advance, not to stay where we start. We should have the attitude and determination to build up and not tear down. If all workers and employers had this attitude, would it not be good for the growth and stability of our economy? Would we all not be better off and create more opportunity and success for everyone?
Consider the story of David and Goliath, taken from the 17th Chapter of 1 Samuel. A review of the scriptures says that the giant, Goliath challenged the armies of Israel to send someone to fight with him. The soldiers of Israel all heard Goliath defy them, including the King of Israel, Saul. Yet David, who was a youth and not a soldier, accepted Goliath’s challenge. David said, “I come to thee in the name of the Lord of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, who thou has defied.” Was God not the Lord of all the armies of Israel? What made David stand up to Goliath when the soldiers of Israel would not? It was his attitude and his belief that God would stand with him. Verse 47 states,”…for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hands.” That is the way it is with you and me. The battles in our lives are the Lord’s. We only need to place the battle into His hands and let Him give us the victory over the giants we face. But it is our attitude that determines the effort we will make to achieve the victory. I wonder how different David’s life would have been if he had not accepted the challenge from Goliath. Would he ever become the King of Israel? Would God have later stated that he was a man after God’s own heart? The point I want to make is that we determine our future by the decisions we make today. Will we fight or will we run from the battle? Each time we are faced with a challenge, our faith is tested. Will we trust God to give us the victory or will we just accept the consequences? When we engage in the battle we become stronger and we start to see God at work in our life. David was able to use his encounters with the lion and the bear to prepare him for the battle with Goliath. And God will use our experiences to prepare us for future battles. Stand firm and fight the fight before you. God is with you, just as He was with David.
Can you taste the grapes?
Psalms 34:8 NIV, “Taste and see that the Lord is good…”.