ThoughtShades FrameWork

Essays, Themes, Opinions

Constructs, Practical Ideas, Applications

Poetry, Impression Writing

Sermons, Devotions

Personal Revelations, Illustrations

Viewpoint: Politics, Contemporary Issues, Editorials


Choice Offerings by Others

Powered by Squarespace
« A Cause Bigger Than Yourself | Main | God Understands Children »

God Demands Your Best

“Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.” Psalms 40:5 (KJV)

“…Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury.” Mark 12:41-44 (KJV)  

Out of these two passages, we can discern the nature of God and God’s requirements for man.

First, we can discover that God goes above and beyond the expectations of man.  God’s good works are more than can be numbered.  Second, even the poorest among us can do more than can be expected, even after comparing them to the greatest works of others.  The operative word in both of these passages is MORE.  God does more, God wants us to do more.  

More is not a self-determined, independent word.  More is a comparative word.  We do not judge our best by some arbitrary standard.  We do our best by the little word MORE.  The two words BEST and MORE are intrinsic to each other. 

I have some hard questions for you today. 

Are you doing your best?  Really?  Are you the best worker in your office, factory or labor pool?  Are you the best mother or father you can be?  Are you the best son or daughter you can be?  Are you the best student, the best teacher, the best singer, the best writer you can be? 

Are you the best worshipper you can be?  Are you the best giver?  The best shopper?  That doesn’t mean if you love to shop the best, it means can you get the best bargain for your money?!  

Why ask these questions?  Some people might actually be offended by them.  After all, they ask, who’s watching?  Who’s counting?  It’s not anyone else’s concern how I do.  Well, it really is all of our concern.  If no one does their best, then the whole community, the whole family, the whole church is dramatically affected. 

The phrase “doing your best” has become so clichéd that it hardly means anything anymore.  Our educational system now rewards mediocrity and non-achievement so much that that exactly what society has produced.  Our best is called our best even when it is little more than our worst.  We’ve labeled our nothings as somethings until we have managed to fool ourselves into thinking it is true.  Study after study shows that American students are falling farther behind in the math and science fields than students in other countries.  China, Japan and even small countries like Finland and Estonia do much better than we do.  

Doing our best has come to mean just getting by.

Our minimums have become our maximums.

We have lowered our standards to make them more attainable for us, not understanding that others are keeping their standards high—or even setting them higher—and reaching them. 

This is not to disparage American young people, but it does suggest that there is a systemic failure in either their education or their motivation.  All of us have something at stake here.  Why, because the strangest and most ironic thing is that while we accept the lower standards for ourselves, we demand higher standards in others.  

When it comes to brain surgeons, we want the best.  When it comes to airplane pilots, we want the best.  When it comes to financial advisors and building contractors, we want the best. It is important to understand that God has a judgment system in place. 

12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.
14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 (KJV)

My mother’s favorite story was about the woman who stood in front of the cashier for a long time and counted her change.  The clerk became a little irritated and finally asked, “What’s the matter?  Didn’t I give you the correct change?”  She answered, “You just barely did!” 

18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator. 1 Peter 4:18-19 (KJV)

I have a message for you today.

It may not be the message you want to hear.  It is this:  God is still demanding your best!  He did not invest Himself into you, He did not give His grace to you, He did not spend His all for you just to have you waste it. 

Matthew 25:24-30 (KJV)
24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:
25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.
26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:
27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.
29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

If you are not demanding the best from yourself, you cannot expect the best from God. 

It is time for us to impose the same standards on ourselves that we place on others around us. 

You may not be capable of equaling the efforts or successes of others, but you can focus on doing better than you have ever done.  What is the standard of excellence that you should set for yourself?  It is found in one word:  MORE!  The McDuff Brothers quartet used to sing this song: 

More, more about Jesus,
More, more about Jesus;
More of His saving fullness see,
More of His love who died for me.

More about Jesus I would know,
More of His grace to others show;
More of His saving fullness see,
More of His love who died for me. 

More about Jesus let me learn,
More of His holy will discern;
Spirit of God, my teacher be,
Showing the things of Christ to me.

More about Jesus, in His Word,
Holding communion with my Lord;
Hearing His voice in every line,
Making each faithful saying mine.

More about Jesus on His throne,
Riches in glory all His own;
More of His kingdom’s sure increase;
More of His coming, Prince of Peace.

You may resent being compared to anyone else.  The fact is, however, that God is looking at the kind of sacrifice you give to Him.

Hebrews 11:4 (KJV)
4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

More excellent! 

There is a story in the Bible about the prophet Elisha on his deathbed, meeting with the King of Israel, Joash.  Israel was under siege from Syria at the time, and Joash was desperate for a word from the Lord.

2 Kings 14:10-19 (KJV)
14 Now Elisha was fallen sick of his sickness whereof he died. And Joash the king of Israel came down unto him, and wept over his face, and said, O my father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof.
15 And Elisha said unto him, Take bow and arrows. And he took unto him bow and arrows.
16 And he said to the king of Israel, Put thine hand upon the bow. And he put his hand upon it: and Elisha put his hands upon the king’s hands.
17 And he said, Open the window eastward. And he opened it. Then Elisha said, Shoot. And he shot. And he said, The arrow of the LORD’S deliverance, and the arrow of deliverance from Syria: for thou shalt smite the Syrians in Aphek, till thou have consumed them.
18 And he said, Take the arrows. And he took them. And he said unto the king of Israel, Smite upon the ground. And he smote thrice, and stayed.
19 And the man of God was wroth with him, and said, Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times; then hadst thou smitten Syria till thou hadst consumed it: whereas now thou shalt smite Syria but thrice.

Here was the sad case of doing just enough to get by.  But it is also a very revealing illustration of the way God thinks.  You might look at this story and say that Joash did nothing wrong.  The prophet didn’t tell him how many times to strike the ground with the arrows.  How was Joash supposed to know? 

There is a secret here.  You may be saying that your reward is up to God.  You may think that it is all written down ahead of time.  If you are going to succeed, God already knows it and there is nothing you can do about it. 

This incident tells me something different.  What happens to you in your life, and even in your relationship to God is more about your response to the opportunities that God has given you than some predetermined result that is out of your control. 

The true servant’s heart always leans toward MORE!  More than is expected.  More than is required.  Just a little more praying, fasting, reading, sacrificing, giving, worshipping, loving, witnessing, serving, believing, teaching and helping.  Philippians 1:9 (KJV) And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;  

Proverbs 4:18 (KJV)
18 But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.

Matthew 5:38-48 (KJV)
38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.
41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. 

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>