Summary: Sermon on the building blocks necessary for a church to grow.
Many people do not give the idea of excellence much thought in the church. “Well as long as we do it for the glory of God.” Consider this real experience: You drive up to the church at 10:10 and the sign says the service starts at 10:15…perfect you are five minutes early. You walk through the door and are greeted with a melancholy “Good Morning.” You begin to look through a bulletin that has lines through it because the copier has not been serviced in awhile. Soon you discover the sign was wrong and the service doesn’t start till 10:30. In fact the sign still lists the past minister who left more than a year ago. As the service starts it proceeds in a very haphazard fashion. The participants in the service are ill prepared and seem to just be going through the motions. Paul wrote this to the Colossians, “Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.” (Colossians 3:17—The Message) Why would Paul be concerned that Christians give their best effort in every area? Probably the most obvious reason is that mediocrity breeds indifference. It is so easy to fall into the trap of settling for the status-quo instead of pouring the effort out to strive for excellence. In fact there is a big difference between doing a pretty good job and doing something with excellence. Excellence always requires much more work and sacrifice. Consider the sacrifice God made by letting His Son die in our place. Wouldn’t you agree that He deserves the very best we can give in return? Give some serious thought to the following statement: “If it bears His name, then it is worth our best.” Do you think this is a statement we should apply? Today as we continue to look at some of the foundational principles necessary for a church to grow, we want to take a close look at maintaining a commitment to excellence.
I. Gaining some understanding of God’s desire for us to have a commitment to excellence.
A. As Christians we need to come to grips with two terms: mediocre and excellence.
1. Webster defines excellent this way: superior, very good of its kind or superior. So excellence is the striving to be superior in your efforts.
2. Webster defines mediocre this way: of moderate or low quality, value, ability, or performance: ordinary, or so-so.
3. “I know you inside and out, and find little to my liking. You’re not cold, you’re not hot—far better to be either cold or hot! You’re stale. You’re stagnant. You make me want to vomit. (Revelation 3:15-16—The Message)
4. Mediocrity literally turns the Lord’s stomach, why would we want to be satisfied with the status-quo?
5. God is displeased with mediocre, less than excellent service; He desires the best we have to give.
B. When we give our best to God, we bring Him honor and glory.
1. In the Old Testament Jewish worshippers were commanded to sacrifice an ox or a lamb that was perfect, without spot or blemish.
2. God required worshippers to give back to Him the first fruits of their crops or flocks, the best portion.
3. You say, ‘It’s too hard to serve the Lord,’ and you turn up your noses at his commands,” says the Lord Almighty. “Think of it! Animals that are stolen and mutilated, crippled and sick—presented as offerings! Should I accept from you such offerings as these?” asks the Lord. “Cursed is the cheat who promises to give a fine ram from his flock but then sacrifices a defective one to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the Lord Almighty, “and my name is feared among the nations! (Malachi 1:13-14—New Living)
4. In our text Solomon shows that whatever a person is able to do, he should do it with all his might, that is, expend all his energies.
5. God is displeased when we give Him offerings of inferior quality; He considers it as us trying to cheat Him.
6. Ahhhh! My mistake that’s the Old Testament. There is no such prohibition in the New Testament.
7. What about Colossians 3:17 that we talked about earlier. However, a better reason is that Jesus gave His all for us; don’t you think He deserves our best in return?
II. Evidence that displays that you are maintaining a commitment to excellence.
A. Sure sign of excellence is always seen in the details.
1. Many times Christians are guilty of not paying attention to the details; we often do what we need to just get by.
2. For the Jewish worshipper it would have been a lot cheaper and easier to offer God a defective animal rather than a perfect one.