by J. Gerald Harris

The Commitment to Excellence
Dr. J. Gerald Harris
Philippians 3:13-14

I enjoy reading biographies about great people in order to satisfy my curiosity about what made them great and in hopes of discovering their secret of an excellent life. In recent years I have read the biographies of C. T. Studd, Charles Hadden Spurgeon, W. A. Criswell and George Mueller. These are men of God who have achieved a level of success and excellence in their lives and ministry.

In one of Warren Wiersbe's books, he recalls a time in his boyhood when he was sitting in a grade school assembly program listening to an aged doctor who promised to tell the secret of his long, healthy life. Wiersbe writes that this doctor had been the physician to one of the Presidents of the United States, and he was extremely interested to find his secret to a life of success and excellence.

He said, "All of us sat there with great expectation, hoping to learn the secret of a long life. At the climax of his address, the doctor told us, 'drink eight glasses of water a day!'"

That brought to mind a conversation that I had with Miss Bertha Smith on one occasion. Bertha Smith was a missionary to China and endured great persecution during the days before the Second World War. She was a great woman of God; a great woman of prayer. I was thankful for the opportunity to talk with her, to pick her brain and to find out the secret to her success and excellence and power in the Christian life. She lived and ministered into her 99th year.

I asked her, "Miss Bertha, what is the secret to your long life and powerful ministry?"

She responded by saying, "I pray three hours a day, walk three miles a day and never eat anything that tastes good."

In Philippians 3 the apostle Paul is giving us his spiritual biography. In our text we meet Paul "the athlete" with his spiritual enthusiasm, pressing toward the finish line in the Christian race.

In our text Paul is describing a race. Bible students are not ...

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