Why Christians Pursue Excellence

Am I as committed to excellence as Michael Phelps?

It is easy for me to become enamored with Phelps' treasure chest of Olympic gold. The "greatest Olympian of all time" has amassed an astounding 18 gold medals and 22 Olympic medals overall. Stunned by the glimmer, I can forget that the man has spent the last twenty years of his life in a swimming pool. That is a commitment to excellence!

I admire Phelps' tenacity and commitment to be his best. It is laudatory. The Olympic gold is a stupendous achievement, but those who follow Christ have more to "swim for" than that!

  • Pursuing excellence glorifies God.
  • The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks the question: What is man's primary purpose? To which this answer is given: "Man's primary purpose is to glorify God and enjoy him forever." This is the repeated teaching of the Word of God: "For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen" (Romans 11:36 ESV). "For you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body" (1 Corinthians 6:20 ESV). "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men" (Colossians 3:23 ESV). We pursue excellence to bring glory to God.
  • Pursuing excellence is great stewardship.
  • You've got one life--this is it--and it is not your own. Paul reminds us of this important truth, "You are not your own, for you were bought with a price" (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV). One day you and I will stand before God to give an account of how we have stewarded our time, talents, and treasures as Christ followers. That is why the Scripture says, "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil" (2 Corinthians 5:10). We pursue excellence because we want to steward well our "one and only life."
  • Pursuing excellence makes for a great witness.
  • We must never forget the powerful impact of a God-honoring life. Peter wrote to Christians with little social standing and no political clout. Here is how to make a name for God: “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation" (1 Peter 2:10 ESV). Pursuing excellence in your vocation, in your family, and with your gifts and talents reflects well on the God who made you. Unbelievers will take notice. When they ask you your secret, you can point them back to God. We pursue excellence because we want God to be noticed.
  • Pursuing excellence brings the blessing of God.
  • While we don't pursue excellence to try to "win God's favor," giving God our best will result in his blessing on our lives. Proverbs says, "Do you see a man skillful in his work?He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men" (Proverbs 22:29 ESV). We pursue excellence because we trust the promise of God to bring blessings on our lives.

Christians don't pursue excellence to win God's favor. Jesus has already done that for us. We give God our best to say "thanks" and to honor him for the mercy and kindness he showed by going to the cross for us.

Wayne Carini, the host of Chasing Classic Cars, is a classic car enthusiast and world class Ferrari expert. He has devoted the last forty years of his life finding, restoring, and selling rare classics. I love Wayne's tag line:

"It's all about the chase!"

I think the same can be said for the Christian. We "chase excellence" for the glory of God. 

How can you pursue excellence to bring God honor today?