Excellence is one of the values I place a premium on; I am an avid advocate for excellence as a lifestyle. There is no point attempting to do anything if we can’t commit to doing it excellently. Every great person is a person of excellence. Excellence is not about perfection though perfection is always excellent. Excellence might fall short of perfection but it is the product of conscious decision (backed by action) to offer the best possible output at any given time with the resources at your disposal.
Aristotle, one of the great Greek philosophers said, “Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.” This is my favorite non-Bible quote of all time. Excellence is a decision. It requires hard work and deliberate effort which sadly the human race is averse to. We naturally tow the path of least effort consequently our output is often mediocre.
The greatest influence on my resolution to pursue excellence in all things is God. I have come to learn that everything God does is excellent. Everything HE made at creation was very good (Genesis 1:31). Excellence is HIS nature. Also, HE only gives excellent gifts and blessings. Every good and perfect gift comes from God (James 1:17). HIS blessings are excellent because they make rich and add no sorrow. Nothing God gives is sub-par. HE couldn’t even if HE tried. Isaiah 12:5 says ‘Sing to the Lord, for He has done excellent things. This is known in all the earth.’ What’s more, HE does not accept anything that is not excellent. HE was clear with the children of Israel that HE would not receive deformed animals as a sacrifice. In Malachi 1, HE implies that it is dishonorable to bring offerings that aren’t excellent to HIM.
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly”. – John 10:10 (NKJV)
Jesus uttered the words in this text describing the purpose for which HE came. Excellence is going above and beyond to exceed expectations. I want to anchor on the most excellent work I know – the redemptive work of Jesus.
Jesus came to the earth to pay the ultimate price for our sin. The wages of sin is death and since we were all sinners by virtue of our birth, Jesus had to die in our stead. Also, without the shedding of blood there can be no forgiveness of sin as expressed in Hebrews 9:22. The angel when delivering the message to Joseph the father of Jesus said in Matthew 1:21, “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” That was HIS main purpose – salvation. To buttress this point, John the Baptist who was the forerunner of Jesus also confirmed this to be HIS assignment. “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’” (John 1:29) His main assignment was to serve as the sacrificial lamb.
Therefore all Jesus technically had to do to pay the price for our salvation was to shed HIS blood. HE could have been beheaded, a relatively painless death, and the price would have been paid. However that would have been the bare minimum which is not in line with God’s character. Jesus offered an above and beyond package of redemption. Everything and anything good a man can desire is available through the redemptive package. This did not have to be so but HE made it so. With the redemptive package HE delivered health, all round prosperity, peaceful human relations, blessings of Abraham, dignity and honor among many other benefits.
However, these fringe benefits came at a premium. They cost HIM significantly. For instance, our health delivery package came at the expense of HIS health. He was whipped and striped for us to enjoy this additional benefit. Our honor and dignity came at the expense of HIS shame and humiliation. HE was stripped naked, publicly mocked, spat on and HE took all of that to deliver to us a claim to dignity. HE also became poor that we might be rich.
Also quite significant, HE never had to die on the cross like a criminal. A painful, excruciating death was unnecessary. Did you know that crucifixion is arguably the most painful form of execution? It is a slow and agonizing ordeal and could take days before a crucified person dies on the cross. However for us to be redeemed from the curse of the law, HE had to surrender to death on the cross (Galatians 3:13-14). Without a doubt, Jesus did an excellent work. Nothing could have been improved upon. Nothing was lacking or questionable. That is the epitome of excellence.
As you would have already deduced, excellence is tough. It is tasking and it must stretch you. I recall my early days of adopting the excellent spirit. It was extremely tedious to me and those who worked for me at the time. Jesus wanted to back out at the garden of Gethsemane where HE prayed three times to the Father saying in essence that ‘I am willing to die but must I go through this hell of suffering? This shame? This reproach? This prolonged episode? This public spectacle? This humbling experience? Must I do an excellent work? God’s response is chilling and suggests HE would not welcome the idea of a sub-par job. Had HE done without an excellent work, you and I would make it to heaven but our lives on earth would have been hell; a life without the aforementioned fringe benefits.
If indeed you are a son of God, then you must be like your Father. You have God’s DNA and HIS Spirit in you, moreover Jesus is our perfect example and we ought to imitate HIM. We must deliver at a level that cannot be bested at all times. This applies to everything we do from our service to God to our relationships; from our attitude to our secular jobs to our approach to ministry. We must turn away from delivering the bare minimum in all our endeavors. Excellence is your nature and simply requires that you commit yourself to it. Recall that after Jesus prayed to escape the cup of suffering, an angel came and strengthened HIM (Luke 22:43). This suggests that grace for excellence is available. However the grace can be in vain if it is not properly engaged by deliberate effort. You are the light of the world and the salt of the earth. People around you won’t help but notice your excellent spirit going forward and as a result they will glorify your Father who is in heaven. Shalom.