I have heard the term “moral excellence” many times throughout my life, but I never truly understood what it meant. In my mind, excellence was equal to perfection. Perfectionism and people pleasing have been struggles of mine for as long as I can remember. Because perfection is unattainable, living life in this mind set led to many insecurities, fear, and self-doubt, which led me to believe I could not make a difference in the kingdom. Instead of being bold and speaking up at times when I should have, it was easier to be invisible. When people don’t notice you, they don’t see your failures. I couldn’t be perfect, so I didn’t want to be seen.
Thankfully, through maturing in my walk with Christ and through discipleship, I have been letting down my “shield of invisibility”. I had a choice to make and was ready to step into who he created me to be. I could choose to partake of his divine nature or continue the path of pridefulness and perfectionism. If moral excellence doesn’t mean I need to be perfect, what does it mean? I’m going to be vulnerable and admit that it took a lot of prayer and diving deeper into the definitions of perfectionism and moral excellence for this blog before I truly began to see the difference between the two.
What I discovered is perfection is striving to be better than everyone else, but moral excellence is striving to be better than what one already is. Perfection puts the focus on worldly characteristics whereas moral excellence puts the focus on building Christ-like character. Webster defines moral excellence as “the quality of doing what is right and avoiding what is wrong”. In other words, living a life of moral excellence means living with virtue and integrity.
As followers of Christ, we are called to increase in moral excellence so we will not be “ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:8). I don’t know about you, but I have spent too many years as ineffective and unfruitful. I would much rather grow in knowledge and virtue and have a heart open and ready to be used by the Lord. So where do we learn how to practice moral excellence?
First, through the example of Jesus-the only one who is, and ever will be, perfect! The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Jesus and moral excellence is Matthew 4:1-11 when Jesus is tempted in the wilderness. Even through hunger and exhaustion, Jesus resisted temptation (and used scripture to do so).
Second, through being diligent about spending time in prayer and in God’s word. Jesus was able to use scripture in response to Satan’s temptations because he knew the word in his heart. Through reading God’s word and hiding it in our heart, we will learn what Christ-like character looks like and how to respond like Jesus against the corruption of the world.
Across the nation, there seems to be more and more churches teaching “Progressive Christianity”. If you are unfamiliar, this movement seeks to re-define or re-interpret the Bible and the Christian faith. There is also a Christian deconstruction trend all over social media-which has ultimately led to many abandoning their faith. Instead of doing what is right and avoiding what is wrong, so many have chosen to adopt the practices of the world. Peter writes “be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall” (2 Peter 1:10). We must consistently study God’s word, spend time with the Lord in prayer, and choose to stand for biblical truth. Not to show the world how “perfect” we are, but to show them who Jesus is.
We want to thank Courtney Harper for sharing this post.