Edition 288 (2 min read)
We hear of the pursuit of excellence in academia, industry, the arts, sports, politics, religion, and just about everything else. In my earlier days, I recall reading a book of the very same title, trying to get a grasp on the mechanisms involved when going from great to fantastic. Clearly, I didn't make either.
What I learned was that with excellence comes pressure, a lot of it. But the upside is, if we're mediocre at something, we can raise our standard to go all the way to becoming a master.
One such follower of God was Bezaleel. I feel more pressure was on this guy than just about anyone else in the Bible. Who was he? He was the hands-on production and quality manager for all the fine work required in the making of the Tabernacle in the Old Testament. It was the special place where God would commune with His people.
Right beside Bezaleel was another man, Aholiab, who performed the artistry in engraving and embroidery, of which there was much. To help them were wise-hearted men and women.
In this amazing work, Moses was the interpreter of God’s instructions, needing to convey more than the physical design to the people, but the spirit of what God wanted. God was the architect, and every architect has to transfer the sense or feel of the physical design to the builders. So that once the structure is created, the awe of spiritual influence is experienced as well as the visual beauty.
Think on the fine work required to shape the twelve precious stones of the High Priest’s breastplate, or the two black onyx stones on his shoulders, or their settings. What about the fine robe of the ephod with all its colours and woven threads of gold. Imagine the pressure when shaping the gold for the mercy seat. Or the level of detail in the artistry of the two cherubim, or the crown work for the table of showbread. They were called to perform works of excellence.
The reason I have raised this is to draw a parallel with our own lives. This is a type for our own spiritual building of 1 Corinthians 3.
As Moses would have cautioned Bezaleel, 1 Corinthians 3:10 cautions us to ensure a standard of excellence, “…But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.”
In the making of the Tabernacle, many people brought willingly to ensure the raw materials were there. The gold, silver, brass, precious stones, linen, etc, were all in good supply for the building. So much so that Moses had to ask them to stop giving. There are also sufficient raw materials within you for God to shape are create the type of person He sees you becoming.
As we build our knowledge, understanding, and fruit of the spirit, it's important to keep challenging ourselves, “I must get this right?”
Two things stand out to me in the story of the Tabernacle preparation.
1. They worked intelligently under the power of the Holy Spirit to bring their work to a state of excellence.
2. They had others to help them. They worked humbly as a team devoted to God’s glory, not their own.
We are also called to utilise intelligence and the power of the Holy Spirit to get us right. To make use of wise-hearted people as we build. We ask for help, we discuss design — what the Lord wants, we mull over some of our imperfections. We unravel and redo stuff because we know it's substandard.
If we use the principles of Exodus 31-39 in our own building, the pride is removed when asking for help. All those wise-hearted workers would have been discussing the work daily, as other workers would in any production facility, remelting unsatisfactory metals, unraveling flawed garments, and recutting timber.
Likewise, we should be discussing our own faults, problems, and growing pains freely with others, as if we are in a similar manufacturing environment. The only pride seen should be the pride of workmanship. And no gossip.
This is why James 5:16 says “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.” Confession isn’t for condemnation's sake. We shouldn’t have any fear of making mistakes. It’s all about getting our buildings built right. It’s for raising the mediocre within us to Bezaleel’s and Aholiab’s standard of excellence. All those workers would have been confessing their mistakes and asking for help daily as they worked.
We can ask questions like:
"I still get angry at small things. I notice you don't seem to. How do you do it?"
Or, "I find it hard to stick to my quiet time. Can you keep me accountable?"
Perhaps, "My prayer isn't as deep as I would like it to be. Would you know who can help me?"
Or this famous one "Why do my best thoughts come to me every time I kneel and pray to God?"
Our trouble is, we think others won’t understand, or look down on us, or be disappointed that we’re not further ahead. These judgments unfortunately exists today. When we strip those thoughts back, we should find that most genuine believers are willing to help whenever and wherever they can.
Nobody should be looking down on anyone else. We're all flawed. It’s teamwork. We should confess that we’ve misinterpreted the work or followed wrong doctrine for a time or haven't got something right. Reworking our nature is far better than trying to hide the flaw and expect it to pass the Lord’s keen eye.
Today’s prayer:Dear Lord, I praise you for the standards you set in your work, and the fact we have the Holy Spirit helping us build righteously. Please show me my flaws, and remove the pride so I can feel free to discuss them with others in the course of my walk.