The Highest Good

By Linda Tancs

The Latin phrase summum bonum means “the highest good.” So what is the highest good? Literally, it is God; it doesn’t get any higher than that (Luke 18:19). You’ve heard it said hundreds of times, “God is good.” Throughout the Bible we’re reminded that God represents every good thing: love (1 John 4:8), light (1 John 1:5), forgiveness (1 John 1:9), compassion (Exodus 33:19), generosity (Psalm 84:11) and so on.

It is impossible to be as good as God (Isaiah 55:8-9), but we should aim to be as good as possible. In the philosophical context, our highest good is a virtuous life. Paul defined those virtues as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). It’s your highest good and your highest calling. Jesus left you an example to follow (1 Peter 2:21), so follow Him.

Unattached

By Linda Tancs

The Bible urges us to be unattached to outcomes—or incomes, for that matter (1 John 2:15-17; Hebrews 13:5-6). That means we are encouraged to purge attachments we have to who we are, attachments to our belongings, attachments to our jobs, labels, titles, and roles, attachments to our judgments and attachments to old memories that keep us stuck.

What attachments can you release? Maybe you can remove your attachment to distractions like mindless TV, popular culture or sensational headlines. The result of all this attachment is sin (Galatians 5:19-21) so it’s easy to understand why it needs to go. Easy to say, not so easy to do, you say. Indeed, the story of the rich young man in Mark 10:17-22 illustrates how hard it is to let go. When he asked Jesus how to inherit eternal life, Jesus told him to sell all he had and follow Him. The man went away sad because he had many possessions. So long as there’s attachment, there’s another idol in your heart (Exodus 34:14).

 The rewards of detachment are many, giving way to the fruits of the Spirit, like love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Moreover, Jesus promised a reward both now and in eternity for giving up worldly things for His sake (Mark 10:28-31). It’s about giving up pain for gain. Who wouldn’t want that trade?

God is Not Santa Claus

By Linda Tancs

One of the most misconstrued and misapplied Bible verses is undoubtedly John 10:10, where Jesus is recorded as saying that He came so that we might have and enjoy life and have it in abundance. For many this verse has come to imply a promise of “the good life.” Certainly, many folks do enjoy a good, earthly life. But the Lord doesn’t promise you a Cadillac or a nice house. What He promised to show you is the Way. Jesus proclaimed, “I am the way, and the truth and the life.” (John 14:6). Enjoying life isn’t about enjoying things; it’s about enjoying Him. In God’s economy, the good life is our ability to experience His joy and delight—to the full, until it overflows (John 15:11).

When we live His way, we reap the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23). Those fruits and any other blessings (2 Corinthians 9:8) are meant to be shared.

The Principle of Adhesion

By Linda Tancs

In legal parlance, an adhesion contract is one that is so one-sided that one party benefits practically exclusively from it. In commercial relationships, it’s easy to view that as unfair to the party negatively impacted.

In the spiritual realm, though, we benefit greatly from a unilateral contract. It’s a new covenant of grace initiated by God through faith in Christ—a contract of adhesion with innumerable benefits:

  • the old passes away and we become like new (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  • worry and anxiety are unnecessary emotions (Matthew 6:31-34)
  • a life of faith ensues (Galatians 2:20)
  • eternal life is obtained (John 3:16)
  • the fruits of the Holy Spirit are qualities available to us, like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)

Now there’s a contract worth signing.

Peace Be With You

By Linda Tancs

The Bible reminds us that in this world we’ll have trouble (John 16:33). In some translations, trouble is defined as tribulation. No matter how it’s phrased, it doesn’t sound very peaceful, does it?

Let’s face it. Peace in this life is entirely conditional and fleeting. You’ll have it “so long as”—so long as you get a promotion, take your medication, keep that job, raise good kids and so on. Jesus understood the strains of daily living. That’s why He encouraged his followers to take His yoke upon them (Matthew 11:29). Peace isn’t found in a thing or a condition. It’s found in a Person (Colossians 3:15; Galatians 5:22).

If you incorporate His peace into your daily life, then your concerns won’t necessarily disappear, but you’ll be better able to deal with them (Psalm 34:14; Romans 12:18).

 

What’s in Your Closet?

By Linda Tancs

What’s in your closet? Are you addicted to labels? Armani. Coach. Chanel. Brooks Brothers. Do you judge yourself by the labels you wear? Do you judge others by their labels?

It’s all about “image.” But the only image that matters is the extent to which we mirror God’s image. The Bible uses garment imagery to great effect on this point. Isaiah 61:10 speaks of garments of salvation and robes of righteousness, attributes so considerable that they conjure the rich adornments of a bride and bridegroom. Similarly, Paul spoke to the Ephesians about wearing the armor of God to fight against evil: the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the belt of truth, the sword of the Spirit and shoes of peace (Ephesians 6:10-18). What is the fruit of this wardrobe? Love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23; 2 Peter 1:5-7). In short, the treasure of a good foundation (1 Timothy 6:17-19).

 

What does your suit say about you? Do you clothe yourself with wickedness (Psalm 109:18-19) or righteousness? Maybe it’s time to clean out your closet.