This article is shared by Marsha Jordan
How does being a Christian affect the minute details of your daily life? Do we put in “pew time” on Sundays but live pretty much the same way everyone else does the rest of the week? Or do we live lives of excellence at all times?
Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do… Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
Habits — from overeating, nail-biting, and smoking, to ignoring our household duties, watching too much television and keeping our cars messy — run the gambit from being unhealthy to setting a poor example for non-Christians. Other habits, like healthy eating, exercise, and good money management improve our own lives and glorify God at the same time.
Think about matters of spiritual growth like daily Bible study and prayer, living at peace with others, caring for the poor, sharing the gospel, controlling the tongue. By constant practice, we develop these habits, which in turn define what kind of people we are.
Aristotle was right. Excellence does not consist in doing something sporadically. We cultivate excellence by focusing with repeated, persistent effort. Every action of every day matters and propels us closer to or pulls us away from our goal of being people of excellence for God’s glory.
Paul urged the church in Thessalonica to live lives of excellence by instructing them to “abound more and more” (1 Thessalonians 4:1). That consisted in knowing how “to walk and to please God.”
Peter told Christians to continually strive for excellence and set good examples for the world by keeping their “behavior seemly among the Gentiles” (1 Peter 2:12). In the second letter, he included excellence as a Christian grace (2 Peter 1:5).
If faith without works is dead, then our faith in the excellent creator should result in habits that reflect His excellence. We will develop gentleness and mercy to replace harshness and criticism. We will give generously and put away greed, hoarding for ourselves, and focusing on what we want. We will give up a lazy, sloppy lifestyle and adopt an attitude of caring about how we do everything, no matter how small. We will keep our homes clean and welcoming. We’ll make sure our cars are in good repair, rather than letting them deteriorate. We will take care of physical blessings, like clothing and tools, so they will last longer. We will be careful with money and waste less in order to have more to share.
We will love as God loves us.
Excellence is not a quality we are born with or just happen to be fortunate enough to have. It is our day in and day out lifestyle that we develop. As Aristotle said, excellence consists of our habits!
“Having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God.” (1 Peter 2:12).
Let us daily ask ourselves:
What do my habits communicate about me to others?
Do my habits and lifestyle bring glory to God?
Does the way I conduct myself show to the world the same sort of excellence that is in God’s nature?
Is what I’m doing right now consistent with “walking to please God?”
Do the ways I spend my time and money, treat my body, or take care of my home, family, and possessions show the world the type of actions that God desires?
Do the things I habitually do or neglect to do set a good example?
When facing difficult challenges, a lot of people ask themselves “What would Jesus do in this situation?” I believe that, as Christians, we need to be questioning ourselves more often. Every hour of every day, in any and all situations, I want to be asking myself, “What would God want ME to be doing right NOW?
If I ask myself that question more, I believe I will “redeem the time” and dramatically change my life. I might replace useless, or at least unhelpful, activity like talking for hours on the phone with helping a busy friend instead or cooking for someone who is sick. Rather than playing on the computer, I might be more diligent to keep up with my family’s laundry. Instead of watching mindless TV, I might do something more productive like writing a note of encouragement, cleaning out my car, or showing my family I care by keeping the house neat and preparing wholesome meals. Instead of reading magazines, I might spend more time singing praises.
How might YOUR life change if you replaced some of your current activities with more God-pleasing activities?
May we live lives of excellence for our Father by developing excellent habits.