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Pursuing Excellence

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. (Col. 3:23-24 ESV)


After instructing various members of Christ’s body, Paul exhorts them to “work heartily” in all they do. Why? Because they are “serving the Lord Christ” in these things.


Our work, whether it be the work of a mother at home or an employee on the job, is done in service to Christ. The end of all Christian labor is the glory of God.


We are motivated to work heartily for the Lord by a love for him that stems from him first loving us. This love of God (both for him and from him) motivates the Christian to work with enthusiasm and vigor; this love of God motivates the Christian to work excellently.


Out of gratitude to God, we desire to reflect what God is like in the way he works. Since God is a God of excellence, the Christian should want to reflect that excellence in all he does. The Christian ought to work hard, skillfully, and even masterfully to the glory of God.


As finite creatures, we cannot display the same excellence as our omnipotent, omnipresent, infinitely wise God. We have limitations of time, talent, and resources. Yet, as we can with what we have, we should pursue excellence in what we do.


This pursuit can take place in all spheres of life. In the home, parents can pursue excellence in the discipleship of their children, and children can pursue excellence in obedience to their parents. Husbands can pursue excellence in loving their wives and wives can pursue excellence in their submission to their husbands. At work, employees can pursue excellence in their craft, and employers can pursue excellence in their leadership.


Christians should be motivated to pursue excellence even in music, art, literature, and architecture. We should desire to reflect the excellent beauty of God’s creative works in our artistic endeavors. The ultimate goal of these fields is to glorify God, so we should pursue excellence in them.


In the assembly of Christ’s elect, we should also pursue excellence in all we do. The pastor should work to grow theologically and improve his craft in preaching. As they can, the church should pursue excellence in everything from how people are greeted to facility cleanliness to the bulletins. If a church has a website, there is reason to make it aesthetically pleasing. As a church joins together in song, they should pursue excellence. As the body sits under the preached Word, they should work to listen well. Whatever a church does, it should work heartily to the glory of God.


This command and concept gives grand purpose to all we do as Christians. Nothing is truly mundane when all is to be done to the glory of God. All labor has purpose in Christ’s kingdom.


The objection may arise: If God is sovereign, why must we pursue excellence? Are you saying that God’s work depends on our skill?


Our pursuit of this command does not diminish the sovereignty of God. Ultimately, it is true that any good that happens is from the hand of God. God will accomplish all his holy will. He gets all the credit and glory. God’s will does not depend on our skill (thankfully!)


However, God’s sovereignty does not diminish our responsibility. The Christian is commanded to work heartily in service to our Savior King. God’s sovereignty is not grounds for ignoring the commands of God, nor should it encourage laziness.


God has equipped each Christian with time, talents, and energy to be used. He lovingly prepares good works beforehand for us to walk in them. Our sovereign Lord graciously uses his people, though they are frail and feeble, to accomplish his marvelous plans. The opportunities he gives us to serve him are gifts. We ought to be good stewards of what he has given us. Good stewardship means taking advantage of God-given opportunities, pursuing excellence with our God-given labor, and aspiring to reflect the glory of God in what we do. Christians are image bearers of God being conformed into his likeness; let us pursue what God is accomplishing in us.


Christian, let us work toward excellence in all that we do. Though we are finite and cannot do all things equally well, whatever God has given us to do, let us desire to reflect the excellence of our Creator, Sustainer, and Savior to the best of our God-given ability. Let us work heartily to the Lord in humble dependency on him to “build the house.” May Christ’s people be known for doing things excellently. May God be pleased to glorify himself in our labor.


Stephen Duarte (ME, National University; MTS, Reformed Baptist Seminary) is a pastor at Parkside Bible Fellowship in Fallon, NV. He is husband to Debbie and father of three.


Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of other contributors on this site.



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