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In his letter to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul shows a startling revelation as to both the source and the reason behind many of his troubles.

In 2 Corinthians 12:7 he says:

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.

Many people believe this thorn in the flesh was given to Paul to keep him from becoming full of pride. Paul very clearly tells us that “the thorn” was a messenger of Satan. But the devil certainly wouldn’t buffet (continually harass) the great apostle to keep him from becoming prideful—that’s exactly what Satan would want!

The devil came against Paul to keep him from excelling (or succeeding in his mission). In fact, the phrase exalted above measure in the Greek language literally means “to go over and above.” It is used in ancient secular Greek writings to convey this idea: to surpass the normal mark, to go over and above, to excel.

Paul understood that Satan was coming against him lest he should excel, lest he should do well and surpass the normal mark in fulfilling God’s call on his life.

As believers, we do have an enemy. Our adversary, the devil, continually works against us as we endeavor to fulfill the will of God for our lives. He does not want us to excel in whatever assignment God has given us.

But you know what? He wasn’t able to stop the apostle Paul, and he’s not able to stop us, either. Because greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4)!

My prayer is that you would know and fully accomplish the will of God in your life.

The Bible points us to the fact that whatever we do, we are to do it with excellence. We are to give attention to detail.

In Ecclesiastes 9:10 we are told, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.” And in Colossians 3:23 we are commanded, “Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.

John W. Gardner said, “Some people have greatness thrust upon them. Very few people have excellence thrust upon them. They achieve it. They do not achieve it unwittingly by doing what comes naturally, and they don’t stumble into it in the course of amusing themselves. All excellence involves discipline and tenacity of purpose.”

If you want to excel in life, you need to heed God’s command to do whatever He gives you to do with all your heart and might. That applies to your job, your marriage, raising your children…every part of life.

And I’m not talking about hyper-perfectionism. That’s a yoke that none of us can bear. But what I am saying is this: If you are going to excel, you have to imbibe an excellent spirit, and you have to do whatever you do—even the small things—with excellence.

Bayless Conley

Author Bayless Conley

Bayless Conley is a pastor, author, and Bible teacher known for his clear presentation of the gospel and the way he applies the life-changing truth of God’s Word to everyday life. Each week his broadcast, Answers with Bayless Conley, is impacting lives around the world in many languages on TV and online.

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