And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. – Philippians 1:9-11 NAS
I have a friend of mine whose philosophy of work or ministry or anything for that matter is this:
“If something is worth doing, it is worth doing badly”.
That might sound pretty odd at first but here is his logic behind it. If anything is really worth doing (because it is important) then it is worth doing even if you do it badly. Then you have done something that is important even if it the end result is not what you wanted. My reaction, the first time I heard it, was, “wait a minute, if something is really worth doing isn’t it worth doing really well?” His response, “Absolutely, but if you can’t do it really well, and if it is really worth doing, doing it badly is better than not doing it at all.” At least then you have something and that is better than having nothing… hope you are keeping up with this… J
The other scenario is this: I know some people who want to do everything with excellence to the degree that if they can’t do it with what they think is excellence then it is not worth doing. When you think about it some of us perfectionists can struggle at times about getting anything done because if we don’t think we can so it with excellence then we won’t try and do it at all… we have a disdain for failure; we believe we diminish the value of whatever it is we are doing if it is not done (really) well. So we have this dilemma where we need to answer the question, is this really worth doing?
While there are a number of passages that we could look at this one is significant (Philippians 1:9-11). I want to share some observations about this text. The NASB uses the word “excellence” – it comes from a Greek word that means: to carry through, to carry about, to differ, to make a difference, to surpass. The idea here is to make a distinction between things which differ with a view to embracing what is of greater or surpassing value. It also has the sense of focusing on what is essential, or as the NASB states it, what is excellent.
- Excellence, God’s way is inseparable with God’s love. The term here is “agape” love which indicates His fully devoted, covenantal love. If you do not know how to receive and express this love from God then it will be hard to live with excellence. If you are misanthropic (having a dislike or contempt for people) then it is virtually impossible to live with excellence… at least God’s way. Being excellent at disdaining and criticizing people is not a badge of honor.
- Excellence is always about having the wisdom to approve and commit to those things that are of ultimate value (excellence). This is far above the issue of right vs. wrong; it rises above the issues of personal liberties and how do I utilize my freedom. This is discerning the difference between what is really good and what is of greatest value, especially in my walk with the Lord. Many people live with the attitude of how much can I get away with rather than how do I eliminate all the distractions so I can live the fullest, most meaningful, and excellent life possible.
- Excellence is very much about godly character not great performance. The reason for living with excellence is to be “sincere and blameless” and that we are filled with the fruit of righteousness from Christ. Character and Christ-likeness is the mark of excellence with God. So excellence is inseparable to the person of Christ and always to the glory and praise of God. If our excellence draws more attention to us rather than to the praise and glory to God – then it is not quite as excellent as you might think.