“The Spirit of Excellence” (Philippians 3:12-16), by Tony Evans

April 16, 2009 at 2:00 am Leave a comment

Dr. Evans teaches us that the spirit of excellence, the third characteristic of true ministry, can be understood best against the backdrop of mediocrity. When surrounded by others who are unfocused, undisciplined, and unmotivated, a person of excellence distinguishes himself or herself by adhering to God’s standards rather than man’s. Excellence is performance of the highest quality. A person of excellence can expect God’s applause for a job well done. Christians can achieve excellence in every endeavor for that is the standard God has established. Following are three important points for attainment of excellence.

1. Establish excellent thoughts. Dr. Evans traces the roots of excellence to patterns of excellent thinking. Lofty actions are the result of lofty thinking. Paul advises Christians in Philippians 4:8 to think on godly things – honesty, truth, righteousness, purity, loveliness, goodness, virtuousness, and praise. When we make the conscious decision to pattern our thoughts after godly virtues, we become programmed in excellence. Establishing a mind-set that imitates the model and manner of Christ holds us to a higher standard than any benchmark man can create.

2. Forget the past. Verse 13 of the text admonishes us to forget yesterday–the good, the bad, and the ugly. The past cannot be changed for better or for worse. We cannot live on yesterday’s successes any more than we can dwell on yesterday’s failures. We are advised to forgive those who have wronged us. We must remember the lessons learned from the past, but we must not allow the past to dictate our future. Letting go of yesterdays releases us from guilt, regrets, pain, and pride that may be clouding our tomorrows.

3. Press forward. One of the best ways to forget the past is to move forward. In verse 14 of the text, Paul says that he presses “on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Likewise, present-day believers must press on to fulfill the call of God. Each of us has a task to accomplish through Christ Jesus. Remaining stationary keeps us tied to the past, but pressing forward releases us from old ties and moves us forward on the path that God desires for us. Most importantly, we must surround ourselves with people of excellence.

We all want to hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant,” when this portion of life is over; however, if we have not been good and faithful servants, we will not be able to hear these words. When we seek to meet God’s standard of excellence in everything we do, we find ourselves in the active pursuit of His approval. Like Paul, we have not yet attained excellence, but we should always aspire to the standard set by our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus. To achieve God’s standard of excellence, we must aspire to the glory of God and the model of Christ.
Reflection

1. Developing a lifestyle of excellence begins with a mind-set to settle for nothing less. We must set standards higher than average and surround ourselves with people of excellence. God has called us to excellence for His Kingdom, and everything we do has an effect on the outcome of our efforts. Have you decided to be a person of excellence? Consider the following questions:
What types of books do you read, those that challenge you to think and make a change or those that entertain?
With what types of people do you associate–those who encourage you to do your best or those who are quick to make excuses and blame others for your limitations?
What kinds of television shows do you watch?
To what kinds of music do you listen?
Challenge yourself to become a person of excellence. Develop a list of a few things you want to accomplish or an area in which you want to grow. Keep a journal so you can witness the changes.
Can you name three people that you can identify as people of excellence? Make it a point to visit with them and ask them to share some of the habits they have developed to maintain their standard of excellence. Thank them and pray for them.
Go Deeper
Additional Reading:
  • Excellence in Ministry — Chuck Swindoll
  • Excellence in the Workplace –Robb Thompson
  • Heart of Excellence – Laurie Ellsworth
  • Spiritual Leadership: Principles of Excellence – L Oswald Sanders

Entry filed under: Devotionals. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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