Introduction: One of the great blessings of my life is that
I have the opportunity to help law students plot their
future. Recently, a student told me that his goal was to
have money. He considered the example of the Dean of our law
school. The Dean had been a litigation partner at one of the
largest law firms in the United States. After a couple of
decades he took a huge reduction in pay and started teaching
at the Christian law school where I teach. I pointed out
that earning the money first created the difficult problem
of having to turn away from money. As an alternative I
offered the plan of my life – from the very beginning my
goal was to work for God. Although I’ve always worked for a
non-profit organization, God has blessed in every way. What
do you consider to be success? A tranquil life? A loving
family? A job you enjoy? Money? A great house? Great cars?
Traveling the world? Let’s dive into our study of the Bible
and explore its formula for success!

I. A Tranquil Life

A. Read Proverbs 3:1-2. What is the purpose of the
commandments? (Keeping the commandments gives you
“peace,” “length of days,” and “years of life.”)

1. These three blessings in Hebrew are orech
yamim (long days), shenoth chaiyim (years of
life) and shalom (prosperity). Are these the
essence of a successful life?

2. How do you understand “long days?” Does it
mean a long work day? That work is difficult
and boring? (How many times have you said, “I
wish there were more hours in the day?” I
think the promise here is that you are able to
accomplish the things you need to get done
during your day.)

B. Read Proverbs 3:3-4. What should we “bind” around
our neck? I think “bind” means to keep them
constantly in mind. (Steadfast love and

1. What does steadfast love and faithfulness
mean? (Be kind and faithful to others.)

2. What is the result of doing that? (God and
humans will show you favor and help you

C. Read Proverbs 3:5-7. What does it mean to “lean”
on your own understanding and to be “wise” in your
own eyes? (We need to follow the advice of God
rather than our own thoughts about how to

1. What does it mean to acknowledge God rather
than yourself? (Give God the credit rather
than taking it for yourself.)

2. Turning away from evil seems clear. What is a
“straight path?” (For exercise I ride a
recumbent racing trike. The trail I ride is
straight, flat, and paved. That allows me to
go my maximum speed. A straight path is the
fast way forward.)

D. Jordan Peterson gives very interesting advice on
life. He says that we should embrace difficulties
because they help us to grow. Read Proverbs 3:11-12.
What does this teach us about tranquility?
(Problems and criticism teach us the better way.
That is the ultimate path to tranquility.)

1. Are these things that we have discussed
applicable to having a tranquil family life?

II. Material Success

A. Read Proverbs 3:9-10. Recall that I have this
running discussion with my class about whether
Malachi 3 is primarily about money or other kinds
of blessings. What kind of blessing is promised
here? (Material. A full barn and bursting vats
mean that you had material success.)

1. What does this require? (That you give God the
“first fruits,” that you honor Him with your

B. Read Ecclesiastes 12:1. Recall from my
introduction the Dean’s path in life versus my
plan? Which does this favor? (It favors putting
God first from the very beginning for the reason I
suggested – it is hard to change course later in
life. However, God needs His people in all strata
of society. There would be nothing wrong with the
Dean staying at a powerful law firm and being a
witness to Christ.)

1. A huge problem for American lawyers is that
after a decade or two they become unhappy with
their job. No doubt this is true for some
other careers. Is that what is meant by “I
have no pleasure in them?” (That is one
reasonable conclusion. Making money is a
constant challenge. It might not be very

C. Re-read Proverbs 3:3. If you have a job where you
are helping others will you ever get tired of it?
(If those you help are grateful you will never get
tired of your job.)

D. Read Matthew 6:33. What is God’s formula for
success and a tranquil life? (Seek first God’s

1. What would that look like as a practical
matter? (Promoting God’s Kingdom has priority.
That would be priority in time and priority in
importance. If you are teaching this lesson,
it would mean to study it first in your
morning. It would mean that you cannot let
other responsibilities push it to the last
thing you do in the week.)

III. Work

A. Read Genesis 2:15. In a perfect garden, why would
humans need to work?

1. Of all the kinds of work they could do, why
would God pick gardening?

B. Read Genesis 3:17-19. Is work no longer our
friend? Has our relationship to work radically
changed since the Garden of Eden?

1. What, exactly, has happened to work? (It has
become a lot harder. The effort to produce
food has greatly increased.)

2. Why would God do that? Is this retribution?
Vengeance? Or something else? (I vote for
something else. First, it is a reminder that
keeping God’s commands makes your life easier.
Second, we learn from challenges, and clearly
humans needed to learn more.)

C. Read Deuteronomy 31:6-7. If you want to possess
something, what is required? (To be “strong and

1. Will challenges make you strong and
courageous? (Work contains challenges and
therefore it helps us to become strong and

2. When my father was young, he went through the
“Great Depression” and thereafter found
himself part of the invasion of Normandy. He
was wounded three times and spent 33 months in
a war zone. Some young people today are so
fragile they cannot hear an opposing argument.
How do we fix weak and timid men? (The
solution suggested in Genesis 3 is hard work.)

D. Read 1 Corinthians 10:31 and Colossians 3:23-24.
How should we work? (We should work in a way that
reflects glory to God. We view our job as working
for God, not humans. We seek excellence.)

1. Would you like someone with that attitude
working for you?

2. If you are a worker with this attitude, are
you likely to face a religious liberty problem
at work? (I regularly use the law to protect
the religious liberty of employees in the
workplace. However, I am convinced that in a
small workplace (where the owners know you)
the best protection for your faith is being a
worker that your employer does not want to

E. Read Proverbs 16:2-3. Can we deceive ourselves
about our motives at work? (This suggests that we
cannot trust our self.)

1. How do we avoid this problem? (By committing
our work to God.)

F. Read Proverbs 16:7. Have you ever heard someone
claim that the reason they have trouble at work is
because of their religious beliefs? They say that
if you were a better Christian, you too would
suffer at work. What is the lesson in this text?
(It admits we will have enemies. But if you are a
great worker who pleases God, He will run
interference for you in the workplace.)

G. Friend, do you want to succeed in life? Put God
first. That means obey the commandments He created
for your benefit. It means that a priority for
your money and your time is advancing God’s
kingdom. It means looking at challenges and
criticism as a way to become better. Why not
decide right now, to follow God’s path for

IV. Next week: Beware of Covetousness.

Copr. 2023, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are
from the ESV Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard
Version ), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing
ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All
rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within
parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail,
but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this
link: Pray for the guidance of the
Holy Spirit as you study.