Called to Excellence

Is this what we expect of ourselves and one another?

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1.9-11

Believers are called to lives of excellence. The sense of excellence is to go beyond, to surpass, or to stand out as superior by comparison.

Think of the water Jesus turned to wine in John 2.

Excellence is thus a quality that applies to all of life. We must approve things that are excellent.

Now it seems clear from these verses that excellence includes (1) abounding love, that is, an overflow of the love of Christ, issuing like rivers of living water from the lives of those who know Him, at all times, in all situations (Jn. 7.37-39). Such love seeks always to edify others (1 Cor. 8.1), according to all the attributes of love outlined in such passages as 1 Corinthians 13.

(2) Excellence entails “all knowledge” as well, that is, the recognition of what is appropriate or necessary for excellence in any situation. Such ability depends on possessing sufficient knowledge and understanding to be able to diagnose a situation and prescribe actions appropriate to bringing forth excellence in it. Knowledge is gained by study, listening, and paying careful attention to our lives and times (Eph. 5.15-17; 1 Chron. 12.32).

(3) All “discernment” or “judgment” is also required for excellence, and this may be related to skill in decision-making, timing, helping others to understand and agree, and so forth.

(4) Excellence will also reflect the pure and blameless precepts of the Law of God, for these teach us how to excel in loving God and neighbors, and provide excellent counsel and guidelines for thinking about the requirements of love in any situation.

(5) Righteousness, reflecting the character, mission, and work of Christ, is also involved in excellence. At some point, it seems, our excellent lives must point others to Jesus, so that they understand that what they are seeing in us is Christ, Who lives in us and through us by His Word and Spirit.

(6) Excellence glorifies God, making known His glory as it may be discovered in any situation or work 1 Cor. 10.31-11.1; Prov. 25.2; Hab. 2.14).

(7) Finally, excellence includes praise and worship of God, Who is above all things excellent in every way. Believers must strive to approve things that are excellent in every aspect of life, so that in all things they stand out according to the criteria of excellence before the watching world.

Hold out the expectation of excellence for yourself and those you serve, for nothing less than excellence can enable us to fulfill our callings.