For almost two decades, the business community has been in love with the elusive pursuit of excellence. Tens of thousands of pages have been written in hundreds of books by scores of experts, each proclaiming the “true path” to excellence.
Excellence is obviously a key to financial success in the business world, but it is also the key to something much more significant than mere business pursuit. Developing excellence in life is an essential part of pleasing God and living for Him in this life.
You may be familiar with Daniel, who rose to the highest pinnacle of success available to someone in his day. He had an unusual and meteoric rise to power, which leaves us wondering, “How did this happen?”
Daniel 6:3 shows that the king chose Daniel, among may contenders, to help rule his kingdom. But why?
Clearly, King Darius chose Daniel because God was orchestrating events for His divine purposes, but humanly speaking, God used something in Daniel’s life to advance him before the king. That “thing” was a spirit of excellence.
Excellence is what stood out to the king, and it continues to be what stands out in our day. Daniel had the same opportunity that we have: to represent God accurately and attractively with a testimony of excellence in order to advance God’s cause with our lives.
So how are we to do this? Scripture shows that at the core of a spiritual life of excellence is the ability to think biblically and discern accurately. In other words, excellence starts in the mind.
Paul explains in the following two passages that your mind must be renewed and transformed in order to “put on” a life that reflects God’s righteousness and holiness, a life following the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” –Romans 12:2
“And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” – Ephesians 4:23-24
God desires that we would come to a place in our Christian lives where we can test all things and hold fast what is good (1 Thess. 5:21). If we are going to be people who are spiritually excellent, then we are going to have to be able to evaluate what is excellent and judge what is not, so that we will be able to align our lives accordingly. In other words, we are going to have to develop the spiritual skill necessary to evaluate truth from error and right behavior from wrong.
These commands to “be renewed in the spirit of your mind” (Rom. 12:2) and to “test all things” (1 Thess. 5:21) are not just given to the spiritual elite. These commands are directed toward all believers. God is addressing all Christians to test all things.
The task seems daunting, but God has given us the help needed to do this. He has given us His Word, but it is our responsibility to study it, or, as Paul puts it, to “hold fast to what is good” (1 Thess. 5:21b).
Holding fast (clinging) to what is good has both a defensive and positive aspect to it. The defensive aspect is that we are to value the truth, and the positive aspect is that we are to love the truth. You need to love and value God’s Word if you want it to make its way into your mind and life.
Imagine a miner who discovered a giant nugget of “fool’s gold” and to make room for it in his pouch he cast aside real gold nuggets! Yet that is what Christians do all the time when they don’t test all things and cling to what is good.
The Christian who clings to God’s Word will see the fruit of excellence in their life. Both their inner nature, who they are and what they think, and their external actions, what they say and what they do, will be transformed, resulting in a blameless life before God and others.
Are you willing to develop excellence in your life? If so, here is what you need to do:
- Value God’s Word – give it its proper place.
- Read it regularly and retain it permanently – read and memorize it.
- Receive it and respond personally – obey it and live it.