People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He [Jesus] has done everything well,” they said. (Mark 7:37)
Today’s passage is one of my all-time favorite descriptions of Jesus: “People were overwhelmed with amazement. ‘He [Jesus] has done everything well’” [emphasis mine]. As followers of Christ, this passage should give us great pause. As those seeking to imitate Jesus in every way imaginable, can we say we are doing everything well? Can we say we are doing everything with excellence at work and at home?
The fact is that all of us have areas of our lives where we are falling short of Jesus’s excellent standard. I think this is truer today than ever before. Why? Because now more than ever, we believe the lies that we have to do it all, be it all, and have it all. We are overcommitted, overwhelmed, and overstressed, making a millimeter of progress in a million directions because we fail to discern the essential from the nonessential in our work and in our homes. This is a recipe for mediocrity, not excellence, and I would argue the problem is epidemic in the Church today.
Why should we care? Because anything less than excellence falls short of the standard we Christians have been called to. In 1 Corinthians 10:31, Paul writes, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” The late great pastor Dr. James Kennedy used to paraphrase this passage, calling his congregation to “excellence in all things and all things to God’s glory.” That is the standard we are called to.
There are many good reasons to pursue excellence in all things, especially in our chosen work. Excellence in our vocations advances our careers, makes us winsome to the world, grants us influence, and can lead to opportunities to share the gospel. But none of these good things should be the primary motivators for us as we pursue excellence in our work and the other roles God has called us to fulfill in our lives. We pursue excellence for a much more fundamental purpose—because excellence is how we best reflect the character of Christ and love and serve our neighbors as ourselves. In other words, excellence is our most everyday form of ministry. As we will see over the next two weeks, it is through the ministry of excellence that we glorify God and love others well through our work.