Have you ever experienced a dizzying level of success, only to watch it all suddenly fizzle into thin air, while you plunge again into the abyss of failure and sadness? Could the reason for this painful reversal of fortune be that while you were on top you took things for granted and failed to watch your back?
God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.
~ Ephesians 19:11,12
Paul’s missionary ventures in Ephesus were attended by phenomenal success. He was preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Ephesus; breaking Satan’s yoke off people and setting the captives free. He wasn’t hurting anyone.
Or, was he?
Well, listen to Demetrius.
“… And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that man-made gods are no gods at all. There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited, and the goddess herself, who is worshipped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty.”
~ Acts 19:26,27
Paul’s missionary successes were coming at the expense of someone else. His glorious soul-winning campaign was hurting the bottom line of Ephesus’ leading idol maker: Demetrius. The more souls Paul harvested, the more customers Demetrius lost. Paul was well-intentioned; no doubts. He was serving The Lord; of course. However, that was neither here nor there; the more he succeeded, the more some others got hurt.
See: Regardless of how well-intentioned you are, and how nicely you play, your so-called helpful and ‘harmless’ actions will always pose a threat to someone else.
Here’s a photo that popped into my newsfeed recently. It got me thinking. See if you can sense any envy seething right there in the background.
No matter how hard you try, your most significant successes will come at the expense of another. I know… I know…
But, vicious and uncomfortable as this might sound, the fact is that someone will go down in order for you to rise. Win win is good in theory. In real life, however, your win means someone lost. Period. Just think about the just concluded world cup tournament.
Your success will always have unintended and undesirable consequences on another person’s prospects.
Here’s why: There may be enough room for all the stars in the sky. Yet, no one can look at more than one star at a time. Attention is a very scarce resource. Thus, in order to pay attention to one star, you have to at least temporary withdraw attention from another.
It’s just what it is; there’s nothing you can do about it.
So, one slides into obscurity in order for another to bask in the limelight. And since there’s little point shining when there’s no one to watch, it helps to be aware that the neglect of another might be a cost of your rising.
It may not be your fault that God has chosen to favour you; or that the immutable laws of nature have rewarded your wise choices. It’s up to you, however, to ensure that you don’t get so caught up in the glamour and euphoria of present accolades that you become blinded to the envious stares of those who feel diminished and condemned by your fortune.
So, as you rise, watch your back; because someone is helplessly watching your rising with growing resentment.
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour
~ 1 Peter 5:8
Have a blissful week!