What Is Excellence?

Written by gregdenham on May 6th, 2011

If a matter is important to you than the only reasonable course of action is the application of excellence.

Your family is important to you, right? Your job? Your witness for Jesus Christ? The relationships that you have with your loved ones? Of course all of these things are important to you! Again, if a matter is important to you than the only reasonable course of action is the application of excellence.

So, what is the application of excellence?

Based on 1 Cor 9:24-27 it is the following …

(#1) It is to give your best effort.(Vs. 24 “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.”)

(#2) It is not merely expending energy, but giving your best effort aligned with specific objectives and goals that have been clearly defined. (Vs. 26 “Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.”)

(#3) It’s not enough to merely specify an objective, what is necessary is an actionable plan to reach that objective.(Vs. 24 “…Run in such a way that you may obtain it.” Vs. 26 “…I run …not with uncertainty…)

(#4) The catalyst that brings it all together is, discipline! Discipline is making consistent choices that align with the will of God and the priorities that have been defined. This will require the right management of one’s body.(Vs. 27 “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”)

(#5) The motivation behind the application of excellence? That God be glorified!(Vs. 25 “And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.)

Again, if a matter is important to you than the only reasonable course of action is the application of excellence!

Go for it!!

3 Comments so far ↓

  1. Jim Mc Farland says:

    We live in a society that condones and promotes sexual promiscuity, homosexuality, abortion and filthy and coarse language. Our society is plagued by murder, teen age pregnancies, gang violence, drug usage and many other ills.
    All of which I have just mentioned is flaunted flagrantly through music, television, movies, books, magazines and other media sources.
    And if all of this is not enough, judgment and justice are compromised too.
    Ecclesiastes 3:16 Moreover I saw under the sun: In the place of judgment, wickedness was there; and in the place of righteousness, iniquity was there.
    It takes a person of valor to stand against this tide of wickedness and moral depravity that is sweeping our land.
    Unless we are committed to moral excellence, we too shall be swept up in this tide of wickedness. (1 Corinthians 15:33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. (Proverbs 9:6) Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding. (13:20) He that walketh with wise [men] shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed. (Matthew 24:4) And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
    We must be a people with the strength of mind or spirit that enables us to encounter the culture in which we live with a firmness that results from a commitment to moral excellence.
    This is something we have all been called to do. It’s a commanded action- not a suggestion!!
    Our Call to Moral Excellence.

    If we are to meet the challenge of becoming morally pure in a society that is morally bankrupt, we must understand and build into our lives the “standard” or “foundation” for moral excellence.

    If we are to raise a “standard” today- in our life, in our society, then a “standard” must be adhered to. A “standard” gives us a “mark” to aim for!
    This “standard” or “foundation” must be firmly laid in our lives. This “standard”, this “foundation” MUST be Jesus Christ.
    It must be firmly rooted in God’s word and we must have a firm grasp of the importance and understanding of His sovereignty!

    Understand me! I have NOT attained! I have not “made it.”
    But I do take my script from Paul- Philippians 3:9-14 “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: (10) That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; (11) If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. (12) Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. (13) Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but [this] one thing [I do], forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, (14) I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

    The foundation that I am referring to is that of truth and righteousness.

    Psalms 89:14 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Mercy and truth go before Your face.

    We must understand that we are in a battle for truth and righteousness. Satan desires to steal truth from our land; because; and as he does, he has also steals our virtues.

    What Happens when this Truth is Denied?

    Our society has basically rejected the truths of Judeo/Christianity and the morals and values that came as a result. What happens when these truths and values are denied?

    Isaiah 59:14 Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands afar off; for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.

    This shows us how much of a foundation truth is to our basic morals and values.
    We see this and we wonder why today’s youth are growing up without values and morality?
    Is it their fault?
    We try to put the blame on them, but really the blame belongs to our generation for allowing the truth of God to be so compromised in our society.

    Our whole societal system has begun to disintegrate into a cesspool of violence, blatant immorality and putrefaction.
    Our schools have disintegrated.
    Our justice system has become so corrupted that criminals go free and our political system has become so corrupted, we don’t know what is right and what is wrong any more and our culture has become an abomination to God.

    Proverbs 14:34 Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.

    Spiritual Warfare And Today’s Youth.

    Early in 1994, Barna Research institute surveyed 3,795 kids (ages 11-18) and asked them 193 questions. More than 80 percent of those surveyed attended an evangelical church weekly, and 86% said they had made a commitment to trust Christ as their Savior and Lord. The survey showed that many of our kids are not adopting our value system at all
    • 59% had lied to their peers in the last 3 months.
    • 66% had lied to their parents or teacher during the past six months.
    • 66% had cheated on exams in the last 3 months.
    • 20% had intentionally tried to hurt someone.
    • 25% had tried to emotionally hurt someone.
    • 16% had watched a pornographic/erotic movie in past three months.
    • 5% had attempted suicide. The nationwide average is 7%.
    • 55% said they were confused about life.
    • 50% said they were stressed out.
    • 46% said they were always tired.
    • 45% watch MTV at least once a week
    • Many others are smoking, gambling and engaging in pre-marital sex
    (Statistics from Josh McDowell article in Focus of Family issue November 1994 and his tape series “Right and Wrong”.)

    The hand of God cannot prosper the life of those who are not concerned with holiness and Christ-like change. Because of the holiness of God and His commitment to make us like His Son, lives that are not committed to moral excellence must of necessity result in the law of diminishing returns, AKA “sowing and reaping.”

    When we continually fail to pursue moral excellence we start down the slippery slope of mediocrity that eventually leads to various levels of carnality.
    Because the apostle Paul knew this, his prayers often showed this concern.
    Note this element of pursuing moral excellence in Paul’s prayer for the Philippians in Philippians 1:9-11.

    Here the apostle Paul prayed that they might abound more and more in knowledge and in all (every kind of) discernment.
    The immediate aim or the intended result of this knowledge and discernment was that they “might test and approve the things that are excellent,” i.e., what is best and not merely good or just better.

    “Test” is the Greek dokimazo, “to put to the test, examine,” and then with reference to the result of testing, “to approve, accept as proven valuable.”

    “Excellent” (NASB, KJV) or “what is best” (NET, NRSV, NIV) translates the Greek, ta diapheronta, which, in this context, carries the idea of “things that transcend.”

    The verb here is diaphero, “to carry through,” then, “to differ, be different, be different to one’s advantage.”

    Thus, it came to be used of the things that differ in the sense of being superior, or having greater value and meaning.

    Another purpose for which Paul prayed was that they might stand pure and blameless in the day of Christ.

    Such a spiritual condition occurs, however, only because one experiences the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, i.e., first by faith (justification righteousness) and then by fellowship with Him (sanctification righteousness).

    But this too had an aim, “the praise and glory of God.”

    From the standpoint of our focus here, however, the key point is testing, approving, and choosing what is best, that which excels and is superior.

    The pursuit of moral excellence is not merely a matter of what is good over what is bad, but what excels and is best.

    It’s a matter of priorities and what is genuinely advantageous or most profitable to one’s spiritual life, growth, witness, and ministry.

    Mediocrity might be defined as that which is undeserving of blame but is unworthy of praise. (Ouch!!)

    The Christian’s life is one that is to result in the praise and glory of God.
    When a Christian fails to pursue moral excellence they eventually reap the results: they will seek bad counsel and company, make bad choices, and set in motion bad consequences.

    To live after the patterns of our old life, as Peter reminds us in 2 Peter 1:9, is to forget: the nature of our Savior, the purpose of His coming, the goals of our salvation, and the reality of eternity and the Bema Seat of Christ.

    It is to live as earthlings and to seek our satisfaction in that which cannot satisfy and which will pass away (cf. Isa. 55:1-3; 1 Pet. 1:13-18; 2:11; 1 John 2:15-17).

    The figures around which Paul builds his arguments in Ephesians 4 and Colossians 3 are tremendously instructive here. (If you “dig” Baseball remember the score- Ephesians 4 and Colossians 3!)

    They are figures designed to challenge us toward the spiritual change to be brought about in the lives of believers by the power of God.

    The following are some of the analogies used by the apostle:
    1. putting off and putting on apparel
    2. mortification and vivification
    3. divesting and reinvesting
    4. de-habituation and re-habituation
    5. overcoming and becoming
    Each figure or analogy is to be a product of and a response to the Christian’s new life in Christ.

    This means a thorough moral change through a vital relationship with the Savior.

    Anything else (the absence of moral change) is totally contradictory to the believer’s new life in the Savior.

    It is in essence to mock the Christian’s salvation in Christ. (Remember the admonition about mocking God?)

    Many times; we as Christians experience unfruitfulness simply because God removes His blessing from us because we have grieved and quenched the Holy Spirit.
    (That’s why I still “RUN” to 1 John 1:9!!!)

    But this is not the whole story.
    Such unfruitfulness is also the natural byproduct that immoral behavior will eventually have on one’s capacity to follow and serve the Lord!!
    Negligence regarding moral excellence renders a believer carnal, capricious, and causes him or her to act out of self love and impure motives.

    The principle is simply that moral weakness incapacitates.

    It must and will lead to failure in spiritual growth which will naturally negatively impact one’s capacity for any kind of effective service or witness.

    What, then, is the issue?
    The issue is, “Am I committed to moral excellence, true spiritual growth and change through my new life in Christ, or am I clinging to my own self-centered strategies to run my life in an attempt to find significance, security, and satisfaction?”

    Oh God! Help me! Oh God forgive me!!!

    Like Paul I must fall down on my knees and cry!!
    “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” (Romans 7:24 & 25)
    And then I “Press on toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
    Saying: “… who [is] sufficient for these things? 2 Corinthians 2:16
    2Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

  2. Joe Hamp says:

    The application of this passage is out of this world. It takes the cake! You rock dude!!!!

  3. Ornella Petrucelli says:

    Raising incredible kids
    Hello Pastor Craig
    I am visiting my family out the country for a few weeks, and being able to listen to the message over the internet while over there was a real blessing.
    Thank you

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