How to Know if You Succeeded Today

What do you think about at the end of the day? When your head hits the pillow, do you ponder successes made? Do you contemplate opportunities lost? Did I think well today? Were my strategies good? Did I properly discern the problems of the day? Or, Did I accomplish my goals for the day? Did I make good progress on my to-do list?

Photo Credit: aloshbennett (Creative Commons)

The more ‘spiritual’ among us might ask, Did I speak about Jesus today? Did I live with great faith? Or, Did I serve with passion? Did I sacrifice for others? Do you see how the questions we ask ourselves today direct our actions tomorrow? How do you evaluate yourself?

What measurements do you use to decide whether you have succeeded or failed? When you look back on a moment, week, season, or year, what determines your sense of victory or defeat? When you find yourself sighing in discouragement, or celebrating a job well done, what makes the difference? How do you evaluate yourself?

I wonder if this is what Paul is driving at in 1 Corinthians 13. You know how it goes:
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

Before you gloss over this passage because of its familiarity, take a second look. Can you imagine what it would be like to “speak in the tongues of men and angels”? Wouldn’t it be fantastic to “fathom ALL mysteries and ALL knowledge”? We’d all like to have “faith that can move mountains”. And surely no one can criticize the person who gives all they have to the poor and then gives their life for the gospel!

Paul does. He criticizes it—if it’s done without love. In fact, he says that it is all going to go away (v.8). He says that our knowledge and wisdom can’t be trusted (v.9). He says only love will last (v.13). And it’s interesting to note that Paul believes that these great things can be done without love. In other words, great actions are not always good indicators of a loving heart. Scary.

To be clear, I’m a huge fan of right talking, good thinking, sacrificial serving, etc. I’m not ready to give up on any of those things. It’s just that these things are all fallen. Just as my heart and body were damaged with sin in Genesis 3, so was my mind. So are my actions. But if “God is love” (1 John 4:8), and God’s Spirit lives in us (Rom. 5:5), then the truest expression of God in our lives is love. Love defined His way.

Love gets a bad rap in our Christian circles. Perhaps we’ve been too inundated by Hollywood versions of love. Perhaps we’re rightly suspicious of the consistent Disney message to ‘just follow your heart’. Perhaps love feels too ‘soft and cuddly’ to be trusted. So we’ve swung the pendulum and gotten rid of love altogether. (For an excellent blog post on this, see Peter Mead’s post at http://www.cordeo.org.uk/fluffy-love).

We’ve decided that we can’t trust the fluffy feelings of love, and we’ve emphasized the more measurable aspects of our faith, like right thinking and good actions. The problem is, in 1 Corinthians 13 Paul declares those to be of secondary importance. He declares love to be on top.

To be clear, we’re not free to define love in whatever terms we desire. The Bible doesn’t describe Hollywood love as the answer. Equally important, it doesn’t simplistically reduce love to a ‘decision’ of the mind and will. If you doubt that, read Hosea! Rather, love is truly an affection of the heart. We respond to God’s love with our love—a whole body, compelling, life-changing love. It means we really get to love God and love people, in a way that captures all of us—heart, soul, mind, and strength (to quote Jesus). All of Scripture displays what that love looks like.

So, when my head hits the pillow, I want to ask, Did I love today? I know my life will move in the direction of the questions I ask myself. Did I love today? Did I love my wife with my attitudes and internal conversations? Did I love my son and make time to spend with him? Did I love my co-workers, my classmates? Did I spend my money lovingly? Was my day orientated around the things that matter? Why did I do what I did? Did I love today?

How about you? How do you know if you loved today? How do you evaluate yourself?  To leave a comment, click here.

  • Faelin

    I’ll try to start evaluating my day from this aspect as well. Tahanks, Rob!

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