Is being "number one" progress?

Human measurements of success can actually get in the way of spiritual advancement. Where are we really headed? And how should we gauge progress?

There is a human ideal that to be a real success—that is, really to "make it"—a person must be "number one" in his field and that striving to be so constitutes progress. However, many athletes who have devoted years to persistent training and work and have made it have said in one way or another that what is rewarding is not in being number one, but in overcoming obstacles. It is the pure joy of conquering fear, mistakes, anger, laziness, jealousy, discouragement—and of bouncing back after defeats—that points to real progress.

Real progress has little to do with whether we are winning or losing in the human arena. It is overcoming limitations and earthbound thinking. It is learning to let God govern us. Progress is achieved as we are able to distinguish between a material sense of life and the true, spiritual reality, to turn from the former and live on the basis of the latter. Christ Jesus' parable of the tares and wheat is a detailed account of what we must do to progress. See Matt. 13:24–30 .

When wheat and tares (darnel weed) first grow together, they are practically indistinguishable from each other. In the parable the farmer says to his laborers, "Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn."

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May 8, 1989

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