“Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more.” (1 Thessalonians 4:1, NAS)
I love these words of Paul’s. I am studying the New Testament with my students at Arizona Christian University, and yesterday we dug into 1 Thessalonians. The tone of this letter is so much different than his tone in Galatians. He was flat out mad at the Galatians for their legalism, but it seems that the Thessalonians were doing a great job. They were pleasing God and walking with Him well. They had it going on! I just imagine them thinking that compared to many other churches (the Galatians and Corinthians come to mind), they were awesome and could just keep at what they were doing.
So what was Paul’s response? “Excel still more.” He didn’t want them to rest on their laurels or read their own press clippings. They thought that they were on the mountain top, but to Paul they were at base camp! He was pleased with their progress but not content with their situation. There was still more work to do if they were going to be everything that God wanted them to be.
I’m trying to do this in my walk with God as well as in my other areas of life. I have run 3 half-marathons in the past year, which is great. But now it’s time to “excel still more.” So between now and June I will lose 15 pounds and on June 5th plan to run my first FULL marathon. (pray for me…it appears I have lost my mind!) Our church is doing well in so many areas, but now it is time for me to “excel still more” in leading our staff, empowering our ministry leaders, and building authentic relationships with more people in our congregation. I made some changes to my classes at ACU and Phoenix Seminary this semester too, so time will tell if they make the classes better.
How can you “excel still more”?
- In your walk with Christ. What one area do you think that God wants you to change today to be more like Him? How can you take a strength of yours in your walk with God and make it even stronger?
- In your relationships. Is your marriage good? Your parenting? Your friendships? Where are you meeting standards, but want to change that “C” into an “A”? What is one step you can take today to move in that direction?
- In your vocation. If you’re good at your job, what separates you from being great at it? Would 10% more focused effort lead to 25% more success? Can you be more agreeable to coworkers, or easier to lead as a team member? Can you be a better model for those you supervise?
- In your finances. If your most successful friend from a financial standpoint looked over your finances, where would they say that you could make some changes to strengthen your giving, your saving, or your spending?
Doing good enough, in God’s eyes, is…well…not good enough. Where can you “excel still more” today to the glory of God?