Excellence vs. Excuses

I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. Revelation 3:15-16

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

Dear friends,

I just love thrift stores, don’t you? At the risk of sounding prideful, last week I found myself an old Fiesta platter for just one dollar. Now you know that woulda been $10-$15 in a fancy antique store. Why is it we all feel a little smug when we find ourselves a bargain? It’s like we got one on the world.

But the world got me back on a recent shopping spree. I was all excited about finding a new/used set of Egyptian cotton sheets for just $12. (Someone needs to explain to me why a simple swath of cloth can top $100 in the department stores.) But my glee turned to gloom when I got home and found what the store marked as queen was actually a king. Oh mercy, I got Egyptian excited in vain. My little queen-sized bed (that I’ve had since my sweet husband and I were married in 1953) surely can’t accommodate a king.

The greater disappointment, though, was the response I got from the young lady who answered the phone when I called to report their mistake. Now I had no intention of ranting and raving. I sincerely support their mission and surely want to see them succeed. I was confident they’d want to know about the error and use it as an employee training opportunity. But the obviously-scripted response she recited was very telling: “We go through a lot of product… We try to inspect everything before it goes out on the floor…You can bring it back…”

Excuse. Excuse. Excuse.

It immediately occurred to me that possibly part of her training was memorizing the excuse script. How tragic for the young ones just beginning their working careers. What if the manager of that store instead instilled in her employees a spirit of excellence – quality customer service – thinking like a for-profit company vs. non-profit. What if employees’ automatic reply was always, “Oh, we are truly sorry for your inconvenience. Our highest aspiration is providing our customers a pleasant and rewarding experience. We always appreciate suggestions for improvement. Of course, you may return the sheets for a full refund or replacement, but to convey our most sincere gratitude for your partnership in our pursuit of quality customer care, we’d like to give you a $20 gift certificate. May I email that to you, Miss Grace?”

Excellence vs. excuses.

It then dawned on me the same holds true in our food and fitness endeavors. When you’ve missed a series of walks, or you haven’t packed your lunch pail in weeks, or your evening eating becomes destructive, what is your internal script? Do the same tired excuses roll off your tongue, or do you hold yourself to consistent commitment? Is your lifestyle lukewarm, or do you do all, including what you eat and how often you move, for the glory of God? As Brother Paul so wisely wrote to the Romans: I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2) So instead of sorry excuses over why you’re not regularly walking, speak transformative Truth: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. I was once a slave to pathetic excuses, but now I am alive with Christ, enthusiastic about tending my temple as an act of worship. He has set me free and I am free indeed!”

Oh saints, though it’s often hard to fathom, all of us are slowly being transformed into the image of Christ, from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18) Like the thrift folks, we’re human and will surely stumble. But when we falter, we must claim His grace, get up and go after His good and perfect plan.

Don’t be lukewarm.

Live Well,