The following article is written by a pastor to his church people upon returning from a competition in which some of the young people from his church were involved. He makes a fine application from this competition to the matter of spiritual life. Are you pushing yourself hard enough in your walk with God?
I just returned a little while ago (Fri.) from the American Association of Christian Schools (AACS) National Fine Arts Competition in Greenville, SC. The campus at Bob Jones University is the only place (in our circle) large enough to host several thousand competitors from across the nation. The competition is intense and focused on developing the God-given talents of young people. Lord willing learning to use vocal abilities, intellectual abilities, and even artistic expression will lead to taking advantage of venues to present the gospel to others. Based upon what I see every year, there are some incredibly talented Christian young people in our Christian schools.
Many of those talented young people are from Virginia. The individual and group competition is also a competition among the states for the “Cup of Excellence.” The “Cup of Excellence” is reserved for the state that accumulates the most points from the national winners. Virginia has won the trophy every year for at least the last ten years. I think it is close to fifteen years. That level of excellence is good for all of our ODACS schools. No student can settle for mediocrity and have any chance of winning in our state and subsequently at nationals. This pushes everyone to do their absolute best if they want to have any chance of winning.
I trust this is true in our spiritual lives as well. The ideal is that we set such a high standard spiritually that no person will be deemed successful if he does not have a vibrant personal relationship with God. Not a relationship that they just talk about, but one where there is a desire to please the one we love the most. That desire will display itself in our conduct. You cannot ignore the wishes of the one you love and hope to have a good relationship.
God expresses Himself clearly in the Bible. At the core of His expression, God regularly brings us back to the attribute of His holiness. He tells us “as He which has called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of behavior” (I Pet. 1:15). In other words your behavior reflects what you think of God. If you see Him wrongly, you will settle for substandard behavior. This is called the “fear of God.” Because I know who He is, I must order my life accordingly. As my knowledge of Him increases, so does my responsibility.
These truths are taught to us in the book of Proverbs. Solomon builds his advice to his sons on the “fear of the Lord.” It is the beginning of knowledge and the beginning of wisdom. No Christian will be successful until he knows and understands God. Be sure to set aside the “Lord’s Day” for Him. Many other things will clamor for your time, but don’t let them win!
Doug Wright is pastor of Keystone Baptist Church, Berryville, VA.