Ever since we were little we have been taught to rely on our five senses; hearing, touch, smell, taste and sight. The one that has had the most attention is, of course, sight. Almost all advertizing is aimed there, in order to appeal to our sense of sight, so if somethings "looks good" we will be inclined to accept it. Of course this leaves the door wide open for deception, and we often hear of how people have been "tricked" into believing something that they had "seen".
But, such is not the way of the Lord. God does not rely solely on our five senses, as these were given to us primarily for reasons of physical survival. Things are not always as they appear to be, as many already know.
In highly materialistic societies like the United States, where an emphasis is put on the acquisition of wealth from the time of birth, Christians have been infected with this way of thinking and actually have equated material wealth with God's blessing, so that if you aren't materialy well-off then God mustn't be happy with you. And nothing could be further from the truth. The Bible has told us that God's promise to care for His children in the everyday things necessary to the body's health and well-being is only conditional upon our faith and trust in Him. (see Matthew 6:24-34) And this care does NOT necesarily mean material wealth. It merely means that our NEEDS will be met.
In the eyes of the world the most important thing has become to gather wealth and material riches; this is universal to almost all countries as time progresses toward it's ultimate conclusion. But in God's eyes true riches are found in the eternal value of the soul and spirit. The treasures that we are to accumulate are souls won to the kingdom of God, not dollars and material wealth.
In the state of apostasy that we see more and more in modern societies, people have left off their faith and have turned to materialism thinking that this will satisfy their inner yearnings, but they are sadly mistaken, and this trend only leads to greater dissatisfaction and greater ills."So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.." (Lk 12:21)
As in so many things, the ways of man, the ways of leaning to our own understanding, to our own wisdom, is NOT the way of faith, of trusting in the Lord. King Solomon, a very wise and learned man said," He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end". (Eccl 3:11) So, no matter how much "figuring it out" a person tries to do, he will not be able to come to know God's ways. It takes faith and the sincere conviction that God knows best and that He will lets us in on what we need to know when we need to know it. "Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. ." (Amos 3:7)
So, what has that got to do with appearances ? Well, it is because of man's jumping the gun and leaning to his own understanding that he does not follow the ways of faith and instead supercedes it with what he can see and hear with his natural eyes and ears. This lands him in all kinds of trouble and at times even leads him into thinking that he is on God's path, when in fact, he is just on a path that he has made up all on his own because " it looked good ". If a person's heart is not right with God and he is full of pride and self and in his heart he is only concerned with a personal agenda instead of God's agenda which is to bring His love and truth, by ways of faith and trust, to others, then his "god is with us on this" theory will be completely off-base and will in fact be a path of the deceived rather than the spirit-led. "The LORD preserveth the strangers ; he relieveth the fatherless and widow : but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down ." (Ps 146:9)
So, unless a person, or world leader, or whomever, has his heart firmly planted in God's plan confirmed via God's word, and not his/her own plan, then his/her actions will not be blessed although on the surface they may "appear" to be what the world sees as a "success". But a success in God's eyes and a success in man's eyes are very often quite different. God's ways lead only to life, man's ways lead to death and destruction. What is a big victory in the eyes of man may not be so in the eyes of God, as we have just read, "the Lord seeth not as man seeth, for the Lord looks on the heart."
Ok, so what of man's great outward "achievements" ? His power and wealth and control ? Jesus said, "...Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts : for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. ." (Lk 16:15) Outward appearances of success do not indicate God's blessing, and in many instances indicate something quite the opposite.
Success in the eyes of God is doing what He said to do; " And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say ?" (Lk 6:46) And in the end, when all is said and done, and we stand before God to give account of our lives what we want to hear is "...Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things : enter thou into the joy of thy lord. ." (Mt 25:21) Nowhere in there does it say "successful servant", "wealthy servant", "powerful servant", it says "faithful servant", a servant full of faith. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.