Fine Arts Bible Study 11: Excellence

Colossians 3:23

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.

There is nothing wrong with being a beginner. It means you are branching out, trying new things, walking new paths. Sometimes those new things just don’t pan out. Maybe you realized the road was going to be more difficult than you originally thought, and you just don’t have the time to devote to it right now. Perhaps circumstances change in your life. Once, you were a bachelor and all of your free time was yours. Now you are a husband and a father, plus a boss at work. Your hobby was fun for a while, but you gave it up long ago when time became a premium for you.

Other times, a beginner takes to a new path like white on rice. It becomes something you enjoy, which feels natural, and something you wish to move forward in your talent and vision. There is certainly nothing wrong with being a beginner.

There is something wrong, however, with someone who has been doing a certain thing for a long time, but still has the talent and knowledge of a beginner. Even worse is when said “artist” is on the worship team, choir, drama team, etc. at church.

Psalm 33:1-3

Let the godly sing for joy to the Lord;
it is fitting for the pure to praise him.
Praise the Lord with melodies on the lyre;
make music for him on the ten-stringed harp.
Sing a new song of praise to him;
play skillfully on the harp, and sing with joy.

1 Chronicles 15:22

Kenaniah, the head Levite, was chosen as the choir leader because of his skill.

1 Chronicles 25: 6-8

All these men were under the direction of their fathers as they made music at the house of the Lord. Their responsibilities included the playing of cymbals, harps, and lyres at the house of God. Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman reported directly to the king. They and their families were all trained in making music before the Lord, and each of them—288 in all—was an accomplished musician. The musicians were appointed to their term of service by means of sacred lots, without regard to whether they were young or old, teacher or student.

God wants our talents to increase. Many people who research how the brain processes things say that it takes about 1,000 hours of practice to become an expert at something, whether it is basketball, guitar, or cooking. If you practice at something for an hour every single day, including Christmas and your birthday, it will take almost three years to get 1,000 hours in. It takes 5,000 hours of practice to become a genius at a skill (that’s about 13 years of practicing for an hour each and every day, more if you skip holidays). Even Mozart himself had an overbearing father who made him practice as a small child, and could have easily gotten in 5,000 hours when he was young.

Some people will cite Stephanie Meyer, who supposedly awoke from a vivid dream in June, 2003, had drafted the book Twilight by August of that year, and had a six-figure book deal by 2005. That seems extremely serendipitous until you realize that she also earned a bachelor’s degree in English in 1995 and has been writing since she was twelve.

As it turns out, overnight success stories rarely are actually overnight. It takes practice, it takes determination, it takes instruction, it takes learning, it takes perseverance through mental blocks, and it takes a lot of time.

Matthew 25:14-30

“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip.

“The servant who received the five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more. The servant with two bags of silver also went to work and earned two more. But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money.

“After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money. The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.’

“The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!

“The servant who had received the two bags of silver came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two bags of silver to invest, and I have earned two more.’

“The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’

“Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’

“But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn’t plant and gathered crops I didn’t cultivate, why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’

“Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver. To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Did you catch how long the master had been gone in this parable? Jesus said he had been gone “a long time.” Talents don’t materialize overnight. That should be a comfort for those who feel like they have to work hard at getting the chords right on every single worship song every single week, and it should also be an admonition for those who don’t want to put in the time to develop their talents.

Check out the story of David and Araunah:

2 Samuel 24:20-25

When Araunah saw the king and his men coming toward him, he came and bowed before the king with his face to the ground. “Why have you come, my lord the king?” Araunah asked.

David replied, “I have come to buy your threshing floor and to build an altar to the Lord there, so that he will stop the plague.”

“Take it, my lord the king, and use it as you wish,” Araunah said to David. “Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and you can use the threshing boards and ox yokes for wood to build a fire on the altar. I will give it all to you, Your Majesty, and may the Lord your God accept your sacrifice.”

But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on buying it, for I will not present burnt offerings to the Lord my God that have cost me nothing.” So David paid him fifty pieces of silver for the threshing floor and the oxen.

David built an altar there to the Lord and sacrificed burnt offerings and peace offerings. And the Lord answered his prayer for the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped.

“But, I’m just a volunteer…”

If you are calling yourself a Christian artist, you are using the name of Christ to define your art, whether or not it is appropriate for using in a church service. If you are using the name of Christ to define your art, shouldn’t you give God your excellence? Take a night class in music theory from your local community college. Hire a tutor or instructor to teach you for a half hour each week. Go to the local library and check out books that teach you more about your art. Developing your talent means increasing your talent, and that glorifies God. If you are creating your art for God, then do it for God with excellence, because He deserves excellence.

Finally, a warning from Malachi 1:12-14:

“But you dishonor my name with your actions. By bringing contemptible food, you are saying it’s all right to defile the Lord’s table. You say, ‘It’s too hard to serve the Lord,’ and you turn up your noses at my commands,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “Think of it! Animals that are stolen and crippled and sick are being presented as offerings! Should I accept from you such offerings as these?” asks the Lord.

“Cursed is the cheat who promises to give a fine ram from his flock but then sacrifices a defective one to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “and my name is feared among the nations!”



1. What are some free or inexpensive things you can do to increase your talent?

2. How would you counsel an artist who says, “I don’t want to study this. I think it will just cheapen my work. I want my work to be authentic, and I want God to be glorified by my weakness. What good is it if I develop this as a strength through my own learning?”

3. Is it easier to be creatively inspired as a beginner who hasn’t been boxed in with limits yet, or as a well-trained artist who has the skill necessary to execute the inspirations that come?

4. If you are skilled in an art, how have you helped other Christians you know develop their talents? What more could you do to help other Christian artists have a more excellent sacrifice to give God?

To read Fine Arts Bible Study #1 click here.

To read Fine Arts Bible Study #2 click here.

To read Fine Arts Bible Study #3 click here.

To read Fine Arts Bible Study #4 click here.

To read Fine Arts Bible Study #5, click here .

To read Fine Arts Bible Study #6, click here.

To read Fine Arts Bible Study #7, click here.

To read Fine Arts Bible Study #8, click here.

To read Fine Arts Bible Study #9, click here.

To Read Fine Arts Bible Study #10, click here.

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