In "The Pursuit of Excellence," George Sweeting identifies nine different traits that are necessary to live a life of Christian excellence. Sweeting argues that God calls all His people to live exemplary lives for His glory thus we should strive to make every effort to grow in spiritual maturity and perfection. The first trait is faith in which we need to place our trust in Christ and continue to trust Him every moment of our lives. The second trait is character of which Joseph’s life is examined as an example of purity. Next, Sweeting discusses the life of John Beckman, a Moody-trained missionary, as an illustration of taking action in fulfilling God’s purposes. In the next chapter, the author examines the importance of being single-minded in concentrating our efforts on what God call us to do. The fifth trait is love which is the identifying attribute of Christians as they testify to the world God’s love as shown to us through Christ. Moreover, Sweeting states that suffering is an instrument by which God uses to transform us to greater spiritual excellence as we follow the path of our Master. The next quality is prayer by which we can come directly to the Father in humility and praise through His Son and by His Spirit. Furthermore, the author focuses on the trait of wisdom as having an eternal perspective in living our earthly lives so that all that we say and do is for God’s glory and honour instead of our own. Next, the quality of staying power involves remaining steadfast and unwavering in doctrine, courage, obedience, and fellowship. The subsequent four chapters examine various examples of Christians throughout history who demonstrate qualities of excellence in the most demanding circumstances. Lastly, the final chapter concludes that the ultimate secret to true excellence is to follow Christ who demonstrates for us what it means to live an exemplary life during His ministry on earth. Moreover, His death, resurrection, and eternal reign enable us to live excellent lives by putting away sin and putting on righteousness.
I recommend this book to all Christians facing the temptation to remain in spiritual immaturity. Many believers mistakenly assume that to be a Christian is to simply believe in Jesus and nothing more needs to be done. Other Christians may not perceive the value of discipline and perseverance since they think that their ticket to heaven is secure. However, the Bible is replete with exhortations and commands to earnestly pursue lives of holiness, obedience, and love. Moreover, there are numerous biblical examples and warnings against the dangers of apathy, laziness, and ignorance. Sweeting urges readers to seize each moment to grow in the nine traits he discusses so that we do not waste our lives in lukewarm Christianity that is useless and ineffective. Most importantly, we need to follow Jesus faithfully as He is the author and finisher of our faith who empowers us in our journey towards excellence.
In compliance with Federal Trade Commission guidelines, I received a review copy from Moody Press in exchange for a book review.