Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Pursuit of Excellence

As I watch these athletes I'm absolutely blown away by their skill. In fact, I question if the video is even real or doctored. After all, they are talking about "Fantasy" football. But the point I want to make is the attention athletes give to their sport. How many hours of practice does it take to acquire excellence in their sport? These men (and women) give themselves to excellence in something they are passionate about. It makes me wonder, though. As Christians we claim to have a passion for Christ. How much do we invest ourselves in our pursuit of Christ? How much do we invest ourselves in the pursuit of holiness? How much do we invest ourselves in God's Word that we might be skillful in handling the word of truth?

I believe the Apostle Paul was a sports fan. He often used the games as illustrations. While bodily exercise has its place, Paul stressed the great value of excellence in spiritual pursuits. Read how he places the priority. "But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come" (1 Tim. 4:7-8). "Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize. Run in such a way that you may win. And everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They do it to obtain a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable" (NAS 1Cor. 9:24-25).

The point is, developing expertise in any discipline demands great energy and effort. The greatest pursuit is the pursuit of Christ. Paul wrote, "Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ" (Philippians 3:8). If we are truly passionate about Christ we must also be passionate in our pursuit of those things that will enhance our relationship with Him. We should be as skilled in self-control as athletes; their mastery over the body in order to have excellence in their sport, ours that we might live in holiness to the honor of Christ. We should be as skilled in handling the Word of God as these athletes are in handling the football. It demands great effort, but effort is joyous in those things you are passionate about.

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