Rembrandt, The Money Changer
”Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” –Aristotle
Rembrandt became a master of light and a detailed painter, exquisite faces by training, practice, and years and years of painting, over and over and over again–practice. And so it is with any craft, skill, degree or accomplishment.
However, it is also true of character and a Christian testimony–the character that is habituated to improving, developing integrity by practice, stretching to work hard, to do the best, to exceed expectations comes from daily practice and personal integrity. Those whose ideals are set high and aim, each day to pursue those ideals will have the opportunity to become excellent in any field.
This comes from an inner grid, the way one learns to see life and expects himself to live. We called this “self-government,” when we trained excellence of character into the very fiber of our children’s souls.
I have been surrounded by mediocrity, compromise and substandard Christians in several public arenas and personal situations lately. I have asked myself, with the image of the living God imprinted upon my very being, shouldn’t I, and all true believers, be able to call forth excellence and integrity as a reflection of Him in my life.
“As a man sows, so shall he reap.” Galatians
Yet, excellence and integrity is a personal issue. One can only become this way through a personal commitment, a vision of oneself, and a decision that says,
“Regardless of what is happening around me, I will be the best I can be, work the hardest I am able, pursue the highest standards–especially for my personal life where no one but God sees–because I have been bought with a price and have His Holy Spirit residing within. So my worship of Him requires that I pursue the standard of His Holiness as an affirmation of His reality in my life.”
Whether as a mother training the character of children, filling their minds with excellent writers, artists, thinkers, or as a woman being a steward of every aspect of her life, one can only become excellent by stretching, determining to obey His still small voice and then using every resource to pursue bringing His light and imprint upon this world.
This labor of excellence, personally and in the lives of our children, may/will take many long years–but if we are not committed to pursuing whatever it takes to build this excellence, then what hope does our future have–and even more, how can we represent Him, who has given all?
Paul said, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” We are called to become leaders that others can follow and emulate.With every year of faith, there should be more of Him reflecting through our lives. It is not a choice, it is a call on our lives. We cannot say, “I am a Christian, but I think I will make “c’s or d’s” in my character choices. We aim high because the love of Christ compels us.
More in the months ahead–but have just been pondering–why are so many believers falling so short of His best?
Not talking about being a pharisee–talking about what we should expect as royalty–children of the most high God. We have set our standards far too low…….