The Testimony of Excellence

It’s the quintessential struggle for a Christian. The dichotomy of Truth vs. Grace. In the spiritual life of a believer, it can seem like the “Chicken or the Egg” conundrum. (even though it’s not really)

When you only read these scriptures, you may believe that obeying commandments is what “saves.” If I can only do what’s right, God will accept me.

John 15:10 Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”

John 14:21 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.

But then there are so many Scriptures that say you cannot be justified by your works. So it doesn’t matter if I keep commandments, they won’t save me anyway?

Galatians 3:2-5 Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing? Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?

Galatians 2:16 …know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.

And, well… the entire book of Galatians, actually!

But it’s actually more of an “If, Then” statement. (remember those from 7th grade Math?)

1John 2:3 We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

So IF we believe, and have accepted Jesus by faith, we will naturally want to please Him and allow the Spirit to work in us to produce holiness.


So I bet you’re wondering why I launched into that theological monologue to begin this post! Not the most riveting prose, but this conundrum can sometimes creep into our everyday lives when we become believers, and affect our careers, our lives at home, and more.

I became a Christian in college, and when I look back, I really noticed some trends that I need to learn from. I always say “the mundane IS the spiritual.” In other words, everything I do should be a spiritual sacrifice to God: washing the dishes, changing a diaper, cleaning my house (ouch), or serving in the PTA.

I remember that after I became a Christian, I spent a lot less time in the practice room (music major) and more time “fellowshipping” (is that really a verb?) with the Saints… in the student union lounge. Oh, yes, we would pray and share struggles, encourage each other, mostly laugh, but was that really what God wanted us to do? Being a music major is a very intensive program, you’ve got to work to stay on top. I was a good singer. I was in the Chamber Singers, Opera Theater, got some solos, I played Amahl in “Amahl and the Night Visitors.” By the way, my roommate and I were double-cast in the role, and I think “AAAAMAAAAAHHL” is still echoing somewhere in our apartment walls!

But I really slacked off in those last two years, and sometimes I wish I could go back. My husband says the exact same thing, although I didn’t know him then. It may have just been our particular Christian circle, but I know it was common. We thought the “spiritual stuff” was SO much more important. These days, I think about this Scripture in Psalms:

Psalm 33:2-4

2 Praise the LORD with the harp;
make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.

3 Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully, and shout for joy.

4 For the word of the LORD is right and true;
he is faithful in all he does.

You’ve heard people who can’t sing jokingly say, “Well, it says make a joyful noise to the Lord, right?” I’m not saying everyone has to be a great singer, but to those he called to make music He said, “play skillfully.” No one can play skillfully unless they work at it, spend time honing their skill and learning from others. You see, in David’s day, the musicians who played worship to the Lord were specially chosen and took their job very seriously.

I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like if I had kept my focus on my work as well as fellowship. And I wonder what kind of testimony it would have been to the non-believers around me?

I’ve come to believe that pursuing excellence- in what God has called us to- is honoring to God. Of course everyone can’t be good at everything. But if God has called you to something, do it all the way! If I’m on the worship ministry at church, I need to be willing to practice until it’s right, rather than saying, “Well, at least we’re making a joyful noise!” When working on my blog, or my business, I can’t use God’s grace and protection as an excuse to rest on my laurels.

And I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I need to do a better job keeping my house in order. Not so I can impress the neighbors, or tell other moms how great I am. Not even to give me peace when I wake up with no dishes in the sink. But simply to glorify God – because that is what He has called me to.

Of course I have to make sure I keep the “chicken before the egg,” the “horse before the cart.” Any excellence in me has to be derived from my faith in Jesus Christ, and His work in me. Anything else would be “like filthy rags” compared to God’s glory!

I know there is so much more to write on this subject, but my deep thinking skills have come to an end for the night. Please share your thoughts in the comments. Do you have any insights or anything to add?

Colossians 3:17
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

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About Sarah Pinnix

I'm a mom, blogger, vlogger, libertarian. I love Jesus, and my husband, too. Social Media Strategist for a Non-Profit (All statements here are solely my own)


  1. Your post reminds me of the verse that states "whatever you hand finds to do, do it with all of your might".

    I struggle with some of the same issues of balancing what's "spiritual" in the eyes of others, and what I feel I should doing in the eyes of God.


  2. HisFireFly says:

    Ask Him and He will bring you back into His proper alignment. He always knows exactly where you are!

    Great thoughts and honesty.


  3. I agree with what's been said already, too. Also, I think sometimes it's easy to look back and say "I probably should have…" whatever. However, consider that maybe, for that period of time, God wanted you to invest that time in fellowshipping with other believers. If you were in college, I dare say you needed Christian friends who would "hold up your hands". Excellent post. Excepting the whole house cleaning thing…just WAY too convicting. 😉 😉


  4. Melissa, Multi-Tasking Mama says:

    I am reading a fabulous book called The God Chasers and just this morning I wrote in my journal "ouch" to the following sentence- The reason people who know you aren't interested in your God may be because you don't have enough of the presence of God in your life.-

    It is by surrendering to live for Him in everything we do that emanates that Presence.

    Great post Sarah. Hope to spend more time with you sometime soon!!


  5. This is a great post. There is so much that I can comment on that I really don't know where to start. I do believe that God desires us to work diligently and faithfully serve him in whatever area he has called us to. And it does take work to really make use of the skills he has given to us.


  6. Madre Minutes says:

    This is a really great word. I think your fellowshipping was the right path and is exactly what God wanted for you. What you learned about prayer, corporate worship and sharing in the burdens of others is not mundane and very Christ-like. I believe you were able to let go of perhaps performance based practice and learn what His excellence requires. Yes He wants to be a part of our everyday lives as we serve our families we serve God and glorify Him in it. God is looking to and fro for those who will worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.(John 4:24) Not in our spirit and not in our truth, but in Christ. Often times we try to humanize God and we really just can't do that. If we truly know and trust Christ we don't have to have a struggle between Truth and Grace. They are one in the same and work together for His glory, His purpose and in His appointed time. All of our appointed times have led us to this place.
    Thanks for the word.


  7. casual friday every day says:

    Wow, what a post. You've made me think and feel at the same time.



  8. Lisa @ Stop and Smell the Chocolates says:

    I finally had time to come back here and comment! Totally agree!! You said it all so well – love this post! I know that I have been called to be a mom and wife and need to do a better job of my top priority "job" before I spend so much time doing other things. This has really been on my heart and your post had perfect timing!!


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