by Andrew McQuitty

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How to Survive Success (8 of 17)
E. Andrew McQuitty
1 Samuel 31-2 Samuel 5 6/21/92


A. ILLUS: Legend has it that the great Roman Emperor Charlemagne, just prior to his death in 817 A.D., asked to be entombed sitting upright in his throne with his crown on his head and scepter in his hand. He requested that the royal cape be draped around his shoulders and an open book be placed on his lap. Two hundred years later this tomb was discovered and opened to reveal a gruesome scene. The crown was tilted, the mantle moth-eaten, the body disfigured. But open on the skeleton's lap was the book Charlemagne had requested--the Bible. It was opened to the Gospel of Matthew where a bony finger pointed to verse 26 of chapter 16: What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?

B. The seeds of destruction are often sown in the first flush of success.

1. We gain the world but lose our souls when we allow success to erode our spiritual values. The businessman who finally closes the career-making deal only to get sucked into a materialistic lifestyle; the executive who uses the power of her new promotion to get back at her opponents; the student whose top grades came so easily that they stop working and start sliding. Success brings a whole new set of trials and temptations into our lives, and these seeds of destruction are often sown in the first flush of success. I'll never forget sitting in college chapel 18 years ago when Dr. Hudson Armerding stated: 99 out of a hundred can deal with failure, but only 1 in a hundred can deal with success. So what really counts in the end is not how you started, but how you finished.

2. The tragic life and death of King Saul illustrate this sad truth. He is a case study of the principle that a good beginning does not guarantee a good end. He started out as king with good looks, a commanding presence, and the blessing of God. But he blew it, and that's a tragedy precisely bec ...

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