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Excelling in Excellence

Posted Jan 22 2009 5:13pm

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Pray
"'Many daughters have done well,

     But you excel them all.'

Charmis deceitful and beautyis passing,

      But a womanwho fears the LORD, she shall be praised.

Give her of the fruit of her hands,

      And let her own works praise her in the gates"

(Proverbs 31:29-31 NKJV).


Oh, dear....now I'm talking about that "Proverbs 31 Woman" - that quintessential definition of a godly Christian woman that no one, and I mean no one, could possibly measure up to. Let's face it, she's just like Mary Poppins. Remember that part in the movie when she has the children measure her with her magical measuring tape, and lo and behold, the tape reveals the line: "Mary Poppins: Practically Perfect in Every Way." Yeah, that kind of a woman. She has perfect children, the perfect husband, the perfect house, the perfect job, and on top of that, she's the kind of spiritual giant that's Joyce Meyers, Ruth Graham, and Lisa Bevere rolled into one!

Considering the fact that most of the people reading this column are, like me, still unmarried, we cannot even qualify for half the stuff this Proverbs 31 chick has got going for her. Last I checked, I do not have even one maidservant. I think I might remember how to sew a basic stitch, but I definitely have not made any garments out of wool or fine linen. Oh, and that whole "rising early" thing? Yeah, um, I work nights so I'm usually heading off to bed when most people are waking up. I know for a fact that I'm not a morning person. So why would I even bring her up, other than to rub it in that once again, we fall miserably short of the perfect biblical standard of the virtuous and excellent wife? We cannot possibly expect in all fairness to be compared with her.

Or can we?

What does it mean to "do well"? And in doing well, to "excel"?

I believe that excellence has more to do with how you do the the things you do, rather than simply what you do. Ecclesiastes 9:10 states, "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going" (NKJV). The things you do now from day to day not only impact your life on this earth, but the excellence by which you do them will impact how you are perceived in eternity.

Certainly all of us have seemingly meaningless tasks which we must perform on a daily basis, most often in our places of work, both outside and inside the home. Jesus described the expected attitude of those who follow Him in the Beattitudes in Matthew 5: blessed are the poor, the meek, the merciful, and so on. He did not set up His kingdom as having any different tasks than those of this world, but that His followers could be identified simply by their differences in attitude - differences of the heart.

Every time I drive my car, work at my job, relate to my family or roommates, and serve in my church, God does not care about the various tasks I perform. He instead looks at my heart, in how I serve Him and worship Him as I do the things I do.

I like the way that The Message states the following verse: "Knowing the correct password—saying 'Master, Master,' for instance— isn't going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience—doing what my Father wills. I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, 'Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.' And do you know what I am going to say? 'You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don't impress me one bit. You're out of here'"( Matthew 7:21-23 ).

What difference do we have in our attitudes compared to those of the world? Can they look at us see Christ because of the way we stand out? If we do the same things as they, can they truly say that we do them with excellence?

I must pause to address the issue of striving, however, as one might certainly take the idea of performing excellently to the extreme. The difference still concerns the heart, though. Jesus pointed that out to Martha as she sought to have Mary help her in her serving - she was worried and troubled about many things ( Luke 10:38-42 NKJV ). We do not find excellence in an attitude of worried perfectionism, but in peaceful assurance that we have done our tasks to the best of our abilities in the reasonable time allotted to those tasks. God looks at our hearts ( I Samuel 16:7 ), so He knows when we do our best and when we are striving to impress others.

Perhaps you and I have no maidservants. Perhaps we have no husband or children. Perhaps we have no clue how to sew clothes, wake up early, or buy a field and sell it. Yet we can have that connection with that Proverbs 31 woman, through our excellence in all we say and do.

Oh, that it would be said of us, "Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all."

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