Success, Significance, Sufficiency and The Serpent’s Siren Song: Part I

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Gen 3:3-5  but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.'” The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die!  “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

The serpent and the world sing the siren’s song consistently, loudly, every day and in every way. The song goes like this: “You can make yourself Successful, Significant and Sufficient”. The second stanza: “You don’t need God to realize your best self” (just like Adam/Eve before the fall).  Meanwhile, the worldly back-up singers affirm: “You are the man!”. The remaining question, however, is have you prepared your convictions now to avoid wrong pursuits for wrong motives? Developing your convictions today is the act of a reasonable man.

The book of Ecclesiastes provides an unflinching and thought provoking picture of our lives (from man’s perspective) assessing the true value of the worldly pursuits to which we can give our lives:

Ecc 1:14  I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after wind.

In this book, Solomon severely and repeatedly challenges man’s definition of Success, Significance and Sufficiency to only one conclusion; what men can spend their lives to “produce” is in reality vanity, striving after the wind. It is noteworthy, this is the conclusion of a man who was the wisest man on earth (by God’s grace) who possessed, pursued and indulged to his desire. Taken in the context of the entire Bible, Ecclesiastes drives the reader to more fully understand the necessity of our eternal hope through Jesus Christ. Also, it forces the consideration of my own filter system, my shifting perspectives, my errant focus, and ultimately the implications of my life’s actions driven by embedded incorrect thinking.

Most of us think we clearly understand Success, Significance and Sufficiency. In the past, I may have believed the same. However, apart from scripture, no man is truly aware of errant thinking. As someone who came to Christ later in my life, I have considered the competing perspectives which have influenced/still can influence my thinking even today. With no license to claim completeness, I came up with four competing perspectives with which I must continuously contend. These perspectives are Fleshly vs Spiritual, Temporal vs Eternal, Narcissistic vs Empathetic, and Autonomous vs Dependence. I also came to understand the most treacherous perspective of all; the belief you can somehow serve these competing perspectives at the same time. This never works out. To this point Jesus warns:

Mat 6:24  “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

To challenge my incorrect thinking and motives, I developed the table below for reference. Biblically, the fleshly man has a temporal focus, is narcissistic, and seeks autonomy from God. Conversely, spiritual man has an eternal focus, is empathetic, and seeks dependence on God:

Condition Success Significance Sufficiency
Fleshly Man Pursues “gain” defined by securing measurable “product”. Provides him the illusion of autonomy and control in the pursuit of comfort and comparison to others. My title, position, leadership scope, responsibilities, etc. were “earned” by me. I can/will make myself significant. Never satisfied, always want more wealth, wisdom and power to feed desires. Rationalizes impact on others.
Has Temporal Focus He who has the most toys wins! Get it now! We are only significant if man affirms us. But this affirmation will not last. We are a vapor, no one remembers us, there is no legacy. Ultimately, you will hate your life and be bitter. You will not be able to be satisfied apart from fellowship with God.
Is Narcissistic


Hoard, Hoard, Hoard. False Pride, Envy, Users of People You become limited, temperamental, and indifferent as you can’t gain sufficiency through your own effort.
Seeks Autonomy from God My will, my way “Death by comparison” – never enough, all vanity. Hope in “me” – leading to despair and eternal consequence.
Spiritual Man Pursues “gain” defined as the process of preparation for heaven through knowing Him, participating in His plan and modeling Christ. Child of God – “declared” significant by the cross of Christ by the creator of the universe. Active participation in the process God is taking you through to prepare you for eternity. Remember, you take your character into eternity.
Has Eternal Focus “Well done my good and faithful servant” We are eternal with crowns and eternal responsibilities serving God! You have hope and legitimate expectation of eternal life and God’s reward.
Is Empathetic Use what God has given to populate and empower eternal friends in the Kingdom. (parable) Humility before God and man. Gratitude to God for all that he brings into your life, focus on serving people. You become expansive, resilient and empowering. You realize God supplies your needs and His grace is sufficient for you.
Fully Dependent on God Not my will but yours be done Satisfied by your worth to God and your identity in Jesus. Hope in Jesus and eternal reward.


While the above is not an exhaustive summary, it does begin to illustrate the gravity of our thinking in regard to what motivates our actions. It also provides perspective on the change in belief required to direct attention to a life of purpose into eternity.

By David Rinehart (Deceased April 3, 2021)

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