by Pastor Tim Burt
I don't know how you feel about the subject of excellence, but God loves excellence because He, Himself, is excellent. Why do I think that? Because the Word of God says so! We read in Psalm 8:1, "O LORD, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth, Who have set Your glory above the heavens!" We are told that God's name is excellent. Do you know what that means? The Hebrew word implies powerful, magnificent, glorious, great, honorable, and more… There is no other name like it.
God's love is excellent. Psalms 36:7 says, "How excellent is Your loving kindness, O God!" God’s words are excellent. God tells us that His Word - the things that He says - are excellent. Proverbs 8:6-7 says, "Listen, for I will speak of excellent things, And from the opening of my lips will come right things; For my mouth will speak truth; Wickedness is an abomination to my lips." God is saying that you can count on His excellent words! Wouldn't it be great for people to count your words excellent!
Many times in the Christian world we see a spirit of leftovers—not excellence. Some people sparingly give a little time to serve others in the church...when it’s convenient and doesn't take from their personal enjoyment. A commitment to serving others consistently in church is far more rare in most than it should be. When it comes to giving, for most, and I do mean most, it’s about getting rid of junk—outdated stuff and things that have little or no value. People give leftover older clothes that they don't want any more—clothes that are closer to out-of-style and shabby than excellent. We see run down churches in disrepair with old, beaten up furniture for its furnishings. We see churches with people at their doorstep needing benevolence and help, but the churches are without the resources, manpower, or finances to do much or anything about it. Does that sound like excellence to you?
Did you know that God always taught His people to give firstfruits and tithes? The tithe was the first ten percent of all income that was to be given to the storehouse or temple, or what today we would call the local church. The tithe was, and still is, an acknowledgement that the Lord is Lord and owner of all we have in our lives. It is an acknowledgement that all that we have is from God and belongs to God. It is the witness that we are yielded to His Lordship—not the Lordship of money. It's our agreement that we are to be excellent stewards or managers of the 90 percent He allows us to steward or manage.
Let me take this to an even higher level. The firstfruits were not just the first ten percent. It was the very best or most excellent offering of their crop or cattle, or whatever their source of livelihood was. It was not leftovers! You could not bring a blemished offering to the Lord. It was the giving of excellence to the most excellent God. Do you know what the result of that was? The people were blessed, the priests were taken care of so they could focus on service to God, and there was plenty in the temple to minister to those needing benevolence. It affected the hearts of the people in an excellent way. It really affected their hearts in that it transformed them into cheerful givers. They became loosed from thinking everything they had was theirs. It caused them to be loosed from covetousness and the love of money. It resulted in their freedom of heart, their dependency upon God, and their increased faith knowing they had been obedient to God. It resulted in God's blessing raining down on His people. When God’s people were focused in this way, what was available wasn't scraps and leftovers. It was about excellence in their heart attitude regarding the giving of their resources.
1 Chronicles 22:5 says this about the house of the Lord: “And David said...'the house that is to be built for the Lord must be exceeding magnifical, of fame and of glory throughout all countries: I will therefore now make preparation for it.' So David prepared abundantly before his death.” So many religious people find “religious” reasons to attack building a great church. Solomon’s temple was God’s doing and the greatest built to God by man in history. It was excellent and take note; during this time, it was the greatest time of peace and prosperity in history for God’s people. It became the center of their community, increased the people’s love for God, and everyone was taken care of.
James 1:18 says, "He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all He created." God is saying we are His firstfruits which means we are the best or most excellent of all He's ever made.
It's important to know that. If we are His best or His excellence in this earth (and we are), then wouldn't it be good to have that attitude and model it for the world to see? Christianity is not some barely get along and share your leftovers and scraps with those around you mentality. If that is your mentality, then that's how you'll become!
Like Daniel, we are to stand for excellence in every way we possibly can. Look in the mirror before you start your day. Do you look like you just got out of bed and pulled a shirt out of the hamper or do you look excellent? Did you prepare yourself in the Word of God and prayer to carry love, hope and faith into this world to represent the Lord , or are you grouchy and the whole world is about to find that out? Are you ready to stand for excellence in your manner of conduct, in your attitude of giving, in the giving of your love and service to others, and in how you represent your excellent Heavenly Father and your Lord Jesus Christ in this earth? Will your work habits be excellent? Will your words be uplifting and excellent? Will you hold up that standard so that when God calls us His firstfruits, those around us can see it! You are His firstfruits and you were meant to be excellent like Him. Put it on. Keep it on. And give it out! And as you do, watch over time how it develops God's excellence in you!
Daniel 6:3 (NKJV) "Then this Daniel
distinguished himself above the governors and satraps, because an excellent
spirit was in him; and the king gave thought to setting him over the
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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Published by Pastor Tim Burt
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