Colossians 3:12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
Key Statement: Loyalty to principle, deep dependence upon God, and personal integrity are the hallmarks of the true spirit of excellence.
One of the watchwords of business is excellence. After a long period of steadily declining workmanship, excellence in both manufacturing and management has become the standard.
Excellence from the biblical perspective, however, is more than simply improving quality control. While first-rate job performance is both expected and encouraged by Scripture, God’s criteria for excellence are established on a much higher plane.
The much revered woman of Proverbs 31 is portrayed as an excellent woman for her character, demeanor, and inner beauty. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul challenged them to “approve the things that are excellent” (Philippians 1:10). The Greek usage of the word implies the ability to distinguish moral differences. High on Peter’s list of cardinal virtues was moral excellence (2 Peter 1:5). “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;”.
Daniel, as both prophet and administrator, adhered to morally exacting rules of conduct, earning him high praise and admiration. He was indeed a man of excellence, and the principles that elevated him above his contemporaries are as applicable today as they were in ancient Babylon.
Be Loyal to Godly Principles
At the crux of Daniel’s spirit of excellence was his loyalty to godly principles. Though offered enticing food from the king’s court, Daniel made up his mind “that he would not defile himself” (Daniel 1:8). The man of excellence is a man of loyalty to the standard of God’s Word, not a man of compromise. Perhaps Daniel’s name which means “God is My Judge,” served as a reminder of his firmly held ethical code. Our loyalty to the higher standard of Scripture works only when we recognize that we are accountable to God above man. Embracing that powerful truth, all of our labor is directed toward pleasing and honoring God, which also forms the foundation of a superior work ethic.
Daniel’s extraordinary life and work demonstrated dependence upon the wisdom of God through prayer. Daniel’s abilities to rule and his courage to act were the overflow of consistent prayer that looked to God for solutions and guidance. “Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime” (Daniel 6:10).
That same wisdom can be received today: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all [men] liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5). Excellence is fueled by wisdom, and what can possibly equal the wisdom from the omniscient One that applies to every circumstance of our existence. Wisdom for our job, our family, our children, our finances, our relationships is generously provided by God for excellent living.
Moral Excellence Is a Witness to Others
Daniel’s integrity before God and men was a blazing witness of his commitment to excellence. As his adversaries sought to indict him, they were forced to admit that “they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him” (Daniel 6:4).
The results of Daniel’s loyalty to God’s standards and his prayer life were not hidden from men. His work and life had the impeccable marks of an obedient man. Excellence in the moral realm will invariably lead to demonstrable evidence in the physical arena. Loyalty to principle, deep dependence upon God, and personal integrity are the hallmarks of the true spirit of excellence, gaining the acclaim of both God and man.