As a child there was always the potential for an “E” or an Excellent grade. It was something to work towards. Something to desire. To be excellent.
Many years later I entered into the Kingdom of God and the church fellowship I was in, was one who practiced excellence. No shortcuts here. If you were going to do something, do it right. Do it properly and do it with excellence. No half measures.
Faith is applied.
I thought this morning, how many are leaving a dream on the table because of a distraction, fear or an “easy way out”? Cutting corners is always the easy way out…until somewhere down the road. As I talked to a friend of mine, stone mason, we talked about making sure the “hidden” is a s good as the rest. I have built some stonewalls as had this man. The preparation is what insures that it will be level.
In Ruth 3:11 the Bible records, “Now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence.” “I will do for you WHATEVER you ask!” Favor! One of the byproducts of excellence is favor. I think it is important that we keep that in mind when we talk of excellence. Excellent people exceed expectations. And I have found God is more interested in who you are than what you are. (Even what you do, where you might reside or even who you are partnered with!) Part of being excellent is being who God created you to be. That is the spirit of excellence. He loves you and created you to be all that you can be!
The “internal” excellence, held in your heart and your soul will spill out into all the areas of your life. Your job will be better, your relationships better and your life will be better. (Luke 6:45 “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.”)
Many years ago a woman in our church spoke on the place of heaven. Now many speak on heaven, but my friend brought in a “castle”, her depiction of heaven. It was like a doll house, but no doll house I had ever seen. It had gold and silver, gemstones and adornments. It was amazing! It was so beautiful, so elegant and so amazing! It was so awesome, I could not believe it. Excellence. She saw excellence as the result of a “heavenly touch”. An encounter of the Father’s presence and love.
Too often when we think of excellence we think of performance or achievement. I am sure God thinks like that, but I am not sure they are as high up on His list as they might be on ours.
I am not sure excellence will manifest or mature without the spirit of humility walking before it. Paul said that (2 Corinthians 12:9) “And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” It was in humility that he was perfected. James 4:6 says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Our pursuit of excellence is founded on our recognition of our dependency on God.
Heaven and excellence was founded in an instance. Or maybe it was always there like the Lord Himself. Excellence came from God and like all that is in our lives from God, it is growing, greatening. Excellence is always on the increase. Excellence is a product of our faith. James 1:2-4 tells us that trials produce perseverance and perseverance produces faith – thus making you mature and complete. Excellence will be found in the day to day walk and its details. Each day, our choices to excel will lead us to excellence. We must plan to be excellent and allow for excellence to come.
I learned over my years here that excellence has a requirement. A requirement that many turn away from, falling under a false understanding of God and grace. They believe grace is a “hear no evil, speak no evil and see no evil” concept. Not true. Let me say simply, that a “pollyanna” thought process is not discerning or keeping watch. 1 John 4:1 says, “Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God…” The spirit of excellence has a requirement in that it inquires of wisdom. (With the knowledge it will receive liberally.) It will demand a “healthy skepticism”, a reason to employ critical thinking. The spirit of excellence is not easily blown and tossed by the wind (James 1:6). Therefore enabling you to make sound decisions, to pursue only things worth pursuing, and to function as a trusted resource in every matter of life. By being a skeptical inquirer, you reduce wasted thoughts, actions, and ideas and focus completely on pursuits of excellence.
Ralph Martson said, “excellence is not a skill – it is an attitude”. As I said earlier excellence will touch every area of your life. As believers we are called to be excellent in everything we do (2 Corinthians 8:7). The spirit of excellence means that we dedicate ourself fully to everything we do and encounter, doing all things, as working for the Lord (Colossians 3:23).
Don’t look outward to measure your excellence; instead look inward and compare your growth to where you were in the past (Galatians 6:4).