Skill Brings Success

By Pastor Teck Uy

In a world where there is steep competition, we are compelled to work harder and smarter. Yet in order to be truly successful, there is a need to keep ourselves fit at all times, because “if the axe is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed but skill will bring success” (Eccl. 10:10). It is not uncommon to see people whose “axes” are dull work harder than others, yet end up not as successful. It takes them a longer time to get to where they want to be. However, those with sharpened axes accomplish more and with a far better quality than those with dull axes. This holds true even in the quality of life we have. If we have greater and more enduring faith, we will certainly reap a better reward. Others may drop out of the race, but we will all be well on track to the finish line.

Many tend to rely on mere strength to accomplish their tasks. However, the Scripture acknowledges that not even youthful strength is enough when it says, “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isa. 40:30-31). While we need strength in any task we do, we need to have the wisdom to use it, so that we do not uselessly spend our energy. A sharp axe will definitely make things less wearisome. Jesus himself had to emphasize the need to for us to rest and take the time to sharpen or refresh ourselves, saying, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30).

Wisdom is key to having a sharp axe. To illustrate the supremacy of wisdom over strength, the Book of Ecclesiastes says, “There was once a small city with only a few people in it. And a powerful king came against it, surrounded it and built huge siege works against it. Now there lived in that city a man poor but wise, and he saved the city by his wisdom…So, wisdom is better than strength” (Eccl. 9:14-16). No matter how strong a man is, if he has no wisdom, he will certainly not surpass one who is full of wisdom. In the same token, no matter how knowledgeable a man is, if he does not have the skill, he will not be as successful as the one with skills. Skill is the ability to practically apply knowledge in a given situation. It is skill that will bring wealth. Skill is the hand working and translating into action what the mind knows. Many learned people end up failures because they do not have the skill to translate their knowledge into practical actions.

But how do we sharpen our skills? The Book of Proverbs gives us the key when it says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Prov. 27:17). By our interactions, discussions and prayers with one another, we can sharpen each other. In these interactions, there are exchanges of knowledge and we learn from one another. However, for us to learn and be sharpened, we have to interact with our equals – iron sharpens iron. If we mingle with the fools and go down to their level, we will not be sharpened. Instead, we will become as dull as they are. However, if our intent is to sharpen them, we have to maintain our level of standard and they will rise to our level.

Spiritually, we need to sharpen our faith for us to endure all the trials and challenges that we face in life. The best way to do this is to saturate ourselves with the Word of God. It is not enough that we listen to the preaching of the Word. We need to go further and actually read the Word to make sure that what we hear aligns with what is written in Scriptures. We need to guard ourselves from falsities received through the preaching of the Word, because these will cause us to become dull in the knowledge of the truth. Let us be like the believers in Berea, “for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11). We will accomplish much in the kingdom of God, with less effort, if our faith is sharpened. It is this faith that will bring success in the same manner that skills bring success in the workplace. Let us not settle for knowledge only, for knowledge puffs up. Indeed, knowledge can make us proud to the point where we will miss the opportunity to succeed, because “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). Therefore, let us hone our skills and succeed for the glory of God. Hallelujah!