An Excellent Spirit
An Excellent Spirit
Pursuing Excellence (Part 2)
(I am spending the next few weeks exploring the “pursuit of excellence” in our service to God. I understand that its not keen political commentary or dynamic prophetic insight, but I have been convicted that we have lost to a great degree in the Body of Christ, our thirst for excellence. So, read these post or don’t; I am simply following the ache that I believe God has placed in my heart. mkg)
Related Article: Pursuing Excellence-Part 1
“Even so you, forasmuch as you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to excel to the edifying of the church.” (1 Corinthians 14:12)
ex-cel(ik-sel’)v.t & v.i. – celled, -cel-ling To surpass; outstrip; be outstanding.[
With regard to excellence in ministry, my purpose in this series is not to focus on “technical” excellence where we try to do what the world does, only better – but the excellence of spirit that is found within a man. Two men in the Bible seem to stand out with regard to the matter of personal excellence.
The first is Joseph, in the book of Genesis. Here was a man who made all the right decisions and got all the wrong rewards. Yet, this man is perhaps best described in Genesis 39:2-6:
The LORD was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master. 3 His master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD caused all that he did to succeed in his hands. 4 So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house rand put him in charge of all that he had. 5 From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had, the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; the blessing of the LORD was on all that he had, in house and field. 6 So he left all that he had in Joseph’s charge, and because of him he had no concern about anything but the food he ate.
All through his life, Joseph encountered adversity and and yet, he prevailed. He prevailed with an “excellent spirit” that propelled and promoted him through every crisis and downturn into prominence and success. It was Potiphar who first took note of the unusual qualities of this young man. Having purchased Joseph from the caravan of slave traders, the Egyptian captain observed that God blessed everything Joseph did. All that Joseph touched prospered. Every project to which he was assigned was completed in a timely and capable manner. His demeanor was not that of a captured and beaten man devastated by unfortunate and unfair circumstances. Though he was not in an excellent situation, Joseph was a man of excellence, unturned by the changing winds and misfortunes of life.
Joseph understood that while his brothers had the power to change his circumstances, they did not possess the ability to change who he was. Regardless of the meanness of his brothers, he was still Joseph. He was still the man to whom God had given a dream. He still took pride in his work and completed each task with good cheer and diligence. Entrust Joseph with a small or insignificant task and it was treated as if it were the most important job in the world. Because of these traits of excellence, God was able to bless Joseph and because Joseph was blessed, the entire household where he resided was blessed. Because the household was blessed, promotion came to Joseph. In fact, it was these qualities propelled him all the way to Pharaoh’s palace. It was his servant’s heart that brought him to the throne. In humility of spirit, he learned in his service to an Egyptian captain all of the lessons he needed to rule over Egypt. Even in that high and exalted position, Joseph continued to serve; first the people of Egypt and ultimately the rescue of his own people – the very ones who had sold him into slavery.
If we will pursue an excellence of spirit like that of Joseph we will engage in our service to God with the same care and diligence with which Joseph served Potiphar, God will cause us to prosper in what we do. This will result in blessings upon our neighborhoods and communities providing opportunities to minister the gospel to our neighbors.
We will also learn that God measures our spirit not in the way we lead but in the way we serve. Jesus declared, “If you want to be great in the Kingdom, you must serve.” This is in absolute contrast to the thinking of the world that eschews the concept of servanthood and exalts the ideal of mastery. Joseph never heard the words of Jesus with regard to servanthood, but his life embodied that excellent spirit; that the greatness of a man (or a ministry) is measured by how low they are willing to bend in order to lift others up.
“….and the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake.” Genesis 39:5
There is another fellow whose life is marked by an excellent spirit. His name is Daniel.
“Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm. (Daniel 6:3)
Like Joseph, Daniel was a young man whom life treated unfairly. Bright, charming, and talented; Daniel was chosen to be among a group of young men to be trained by Israel’s conquerors for service to their new masters. Dragged away from family and friends to a strange new land and exposed to a whole new world of customs and morals. They were introduced to an educational regimen designed to utilize Daniel and his friends as the prototype of a new generation of Babylonized Jew. His training complete, he would be re-seeded among the youth of his people to turn them from the old ways of Israel to the new ways of Babylon.
Whether we realize it or not, we live in a society that has the same plan. There is a secular and humanistic educational philosophy that is key in the development of a “new world order.” How is this to be accomplished? By educating our children in the ideals and philosophies of humanism. The church has been seeded with humanistic ideas and ideals, so that with each passing generation the holy ways of the God of the Bible have been carefully replaced by a humanistic based “religion” that is centered not in the Lordship of Christ, but in the supremacy of man.
What is developing in our generation is a church that no longer hungers to “show forth the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.” It has been insidiously replaced by an organization for social change that declares the “fatherhood” of God to be antiquated and sexist in favor of a universal religion based on communion with the cosmos and brotherhood with the planet. If we do not now raise up men and women with “an excellent spirit” such as was found in Daniel who will thwart the plans of the humanists, we will watch yet another generation of our children assimilated into Babylon.
It must be pointed out, however, that this young man who “purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the King’s meat…” was in fact not reengineered by his captors. There were others too, who purposed as well that they would not bow down to any image of Babylon, regardless of the consequences. It was Nebuchadnezzar who was changed and compelled to declare, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego……!” It was Darius, of the Medes and Persians, who under a later administration proclaimed a decree:
“….in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel; for he is the living God, and steadfast forever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end.” Daniel 8:26
(In the next installment, we will explore some specific qualities of excellent that set Daniel apart from his peers.)