Summary: The goal of the church should be excellence!

Be Excellent

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

January 3, 2016

It’s the first Sunday of the year and it’s time to lay out all of our New Year’s Resolutions. Let’s pause for a moment of silence. Maybe we’ll just skip them, then we won’t have to worry about anything – or feel disappointed if we give up on them. Or maybe you’ll say, yes, I need to make some changes in my life, so I’ve outlined some resolutions I want to make for 2016.

Too often we have great ideas and hopes, but we have no idea how we are going to get there. We just want to get there . . . and if we were to be honest, we don’t want to have to work to get there. We just want it to happen. If we could, maybe we’d like to put a little microchip in our brain so we’d know the Bible backwards and forwards. We’d know what to do in every situation. We would have another chip to give us a little zap when we think bad thoughts or when we have a desire to eat more than we should.

You see, it would be nice if it were that easy. But to get where we want to get, it takes work. Too often we just don’t want it, even though we say we do. It’s like saying . . .

“I’m going to pray more this year,” but having no plan and wondering why you didn’t.

“I’m going to eat better, go on a diet,” but in 3 months, nothing has changed.

“I’m going to save money this year.”

“I’m going to get more involved in church.”

“I’m going to get a new job.”

We could go on an on about the life changes we want to make. The new year seems to kick start it all, but it could happen at any time. So, really, as we walk into the new year, why not now? Why not take a real inventory of who we are and what we’re about.

Are we giving our all to all that we do? I believe we settle way too often for mediocrity. But that’s not how we are supposed to live our lives. I don’t believe that’s God’s plan for us.

Your work place may accept it, your family may accept it, your school and your friends may accept it, you may even accept it . . . but I do not believe God accepts it. I don’t believe God accepts the excuse that life’s been hard. I know it is, we could all compare notes and in the end, you may stick with your hardships over your neighbors.

So, what’s God calling us to do? I like this passage from Paul in 1 Corinthians 9

24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.

25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.

26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.

27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. – 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

So, what’s Paul telling us? Firstly, we’re all in a race. It’s called life. We may not think it’s a race, we may not like it, but we’re in a race. And it’s a marathon. The race consists of all shapes and sizes and varieties. And we are in multiple races all at the same time. It may involve work or school or retirement, or just trying to live our lives, it could be our health, our finances, our kids. It’s all a race!

As Paul said in his final letter in 2 Timothy 4:7, 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have kept the faith.

Notice Paul refers to life as a race. Not because he was a track star, but because he understood this is life. It’s a race. And too many of us are competing to win the praises of others and not seeking to win the praise of God.

You see, we often make life all about us. It’s about how we can have all of our needs met, without having to do the work.

Give me that magic pill to lose weight and put on muscle - but I want to keep eating and lounging.

Give me that new job making 6 figures. Call me when my ship arrives.

Make me kids perfect . . . attitude . . . grades . . . friends . . .

Fix my relationships, while I stay the same!

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