[883호 15면, 발행일 : 2018년 10월 17일(수)]
Setting high standards in our lives is important as disciples of Jesus. We need to spend time considering the pursuit of excellence in our daily lives. Pleasing God is the most profitable thing a man can do. Let’s look at three things to pursue excellence. I. Looking out for ourselves is not pleasing God.There are those who live for themselves, and this is not pleasing to God. One cold winter’s day a crowd of people stood in front of a pet shop window and watched a litter of puppies snuggling up to each other. One woman laughed and said, “What a delightful picture of brotherhood. Look how those puppies are keeping each other warm!” A man next to her replied, “Ah, no ma’am, they’re not keeping each other warm, they’re keeping themselves warm.” Sometimes we are so worried about ourselves that we seek to please men and therefore we are not pleasing to God. Galatians 1:10 says; “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” II. People who please God. Pursuing excellence should not be limited by the nature of the task. Nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless. The pursuit of excellence is in keeping with the biblical goal of spiritual growth and greater levels of spiritual maturity. So, who are they who please God, and what do they do? They are those who ask the right things from the Lord. I like Solomon and how he was with God. I like what he asked for in 1 Kings 3:9, “So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” God hears his requests and honors it and God even gives him more than he asks. 13 “Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both wealth and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings.” When we come to God and ask the right things, we are pleasing to Him and He will bless us in our actions. Also, those who please Him are separated unto God. God wants us to be a separated people. 2 Corinthians 6:14-17, and Titus 2:11-18. In pleasing God, we are wholly yielded and we walk with God. We need to be more concerned with our character than with our reputation. Because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are. It is important to realize that those who are pleasing God are those who praise God. Psalm 69:30-31 “I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. 31 This will please the LORD…..” When I was studying psychology in university I learned the practice of “one-minute praising,” where the manager, parent, spouse, teacher etc. tries to “catch someone doing something right,” and then spends a full sixty seconds praising that person for the good deed. This is a lot more difficult than it appears. Usually we don’t find it difficult to criticize someone for sixty minutes, yet many times we find it almost impossible to praise someone sincerely for a full minute. And this is true for the church as well. It seems that it can be hard for some people to Praise God. Even in our prayer time, we can list off the prayer needs but I think we find it difficult to come up with praises. The more we praise God for everything He has given to us, the less we will criticize. III. Promises to who please Him. His enemies will be at peace with him. Proverbs 16:7 says, “When the LORD takes pleasure in anyone’s way, he causes their enemies to make peace with them.” His prayers shall be answered. 1 John 3:22, “and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him.” He will have an everlasting name. Isaiah 56:4-5 tells us that who choose what pleases Him and hold fast to His covenant, He will give them an everlasting name that will endure forever. There are two seas in the Holy Land. The Sea of Galilee freely receives and gives out water. It has an abundance of life, nurturing many different kinds of fish and plant life. The water of the Sea of Galilee is carried by way of the Jordan River to the Dead Sea. But the Dead Sea only takes water in and does not give it out. There are no living plants or fish in it. The living waters from the Sea of Galilee become dead when mixed with the hoarded waters of the Dead Sea. Life cannot be sustained if held onto; It must be given freely. If we are to have a life that is abundant and nurturing in every way, we must freely give and freely receive from God. In doing this we will have a life that is, pursuing excellence.