The Measure of God’s Love

By Linda Tancs

Airlines typically regulate the size of baggage by height, width and length. Imagine if you could use the same principle to measure God’s love. You can’t, of course. In fact, Paul encouraged the Ephesians to ponder just how high, deep, long and wide Christ’s love is for us (Ephesians 3:16-19).

Let’s try to imagine it. High: to the galaxies and back. Deep: to the depths of the ocean. Long: forever. Wide: to every corner of the Earth and beyond.

The Best-Kept Secret

By Linda Tancs

It isn’t unusual to see a travel destination touted as the “best-kept secret.” Typically, that’s because it’s beautiful, quiet, unspoiled, or all of these things.

You have those same things in your heart when you dwell in God’s secret place (Psalm 91:1-2), a place of protection and provision for those who place their trust in Him. Trust is the key that unlocks the secret place (Jeremiah 17:7-8), and you don’t have to spend a dime to get there.

 

True Victory

By Linda Tancs

People claim victory in many ways. In the sports industry, it’s winning the game. In business, it’s that promotion, maybe even acceleration to the C-suite. Some even claim victory when they dispose of memorabilia from a bad marriage. Clearly, “victory” means different things to different people. But there’s only one true victory for the believer, the one earned through grace by His stripes (Isaiah 53:5). Thanks to the work done for us at the cross, we are winners in the game of everlasting life.

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?

A Brain, a Heart and Courage

By Linda Tancs

In the movie The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy meets up with three characters, each seeking a different attribute. The scarecrow wants a brain. The tin man wants a heart. And the lion wants courage. That’s a pretty good summation of what we need to persevere through life: wisdom, love and courage.

The Bible exhorts us to gain wisdom (see, e.g., James 1:5; Proverbs 3:13-18). How do you do that? By reading the Bible, the source of all God’s knowledge and understanding. Wisdom is a gift from God, the means to discern the truth in all things. We’re told to love wisdom, and wisdom will protect us (Proverbs 4:6-7). Above all, though, we are commanded to love God (Deuteronomy 10:12) and extend that love to our neighbors (Luke 10:27). It’s fair to say that the pursuit of wisdom and love takes courage. It’s so much easier to hide one’s head in the sand, avoiding truth and neglecting the work to build strong relationships. Yet we’re reminded to be strong and of good courage (Deuteronomy 31:6). That’s because fear, insecurity and anxiety undermine the courage we need to foster effective personal and professional relationships. But you’re an overcomer! Stand firm and apply the power formula of wisdom, love and courage to persevere through life’s tasks and struggles.

The Challenge of Love

By Linda Tancs

Is there anyone in your family who is difficult to love, who pushes all the wrong buttons? Maybe it feels like you’re surrounded by fiery beasts or tongues like sharp swords, as David described in Psalm 57:4. Perhaps your nemesis is a child, parent, spouse, sibling or extended family member, or even many of the above. You might be tempted to think ‘well, I don’t have to love anyone who won’t love me back or treats me unfairly.’ Don’t give in and fail to accept the challenge of love. Love is, after all, the foundation of our existence and evidence of our oneness with God. There is no commandment greater than love, as Paul reminded the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 13:13) and John told his readers (1 John 4:16). Likewise, Jesus exhorted his followers that everything hinges on love of God and love of others (Matthew 22:35-40; Mark 12:28-31; Luke 10:25-28; John 13:34-35).

We should give thanks for the difficult people in our lives because they teach us how much work we may still need to do in the love walk. Those who are easiest to love actually teach us very little. So put on an “attitude of gratitude” the next time you feel tormented, and work on walking it out.

Playing Favorites

By Linda Tancs

Playing favorites is an unavoidable aspect of life. Sometimes parents play favorites; maybe you’re “the favorite child.” Or maybe you’ve been “teacher’s pet” or the favored one in the office. In our imperfect world, it’s often too easy to curry favor with someone and receive extra attention, extra credit or extra money. Acceptance might be based on performance.

God, on the other hand, does not play favorites. As the Bible reminds us, His rain falls on the just and the unjust, the sun on the evil as well as the good (Matthew 5:45). Try as you may, your performance won’t affect your standing. Consider Jesus’s encounters with the “much married” woman at the well (John 4) and Zacchaeus, the despised tax collector (Luke 19:1-10). He met them where they were at, sin and all. And he’ll meet you there, too. Does that mean you shouldn’t try to be the best person you can be? Of course not. You’ll do your best because you want to please God in recognition of His pure love for you.

It Came to Pass

By Linda Tancs

The renowned artist Auguste Renoir was an Impressionist painter, best known for his paintings of bustling Parisian modernity and leisure in the last three decades of the 19th century. He suffered terribly from arthritis in the last decade of his life but continued to paint. When asked why he continued working in such agony, he replied, “The beauty remains. The pain passes.”

That quote reminds me of the Bible phrase, “it came to pass.” It occurs with great regularity, especially in the Old Testament. You might be tempted to just brush it off as a transitional phrase, a way to mark the passage of time in a story with a flourish. But this simple phrase has the potential to mean so much more. Imagine applying it to your difficulties—a job loss, financial reversal, broken relationship, health challenge, or whatever it may be. The problem, or event, didn’t come to stay; it came to pass. Solomon’s Book of Ecclesiastes teaches this principle of coming and going (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). In every storm of life, the pain will pass but the beauty (the ultimate good) will remain. In other words, as Paul reminded the Romans, “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 KJV).

The Greatest Gift

By Linda Tancs

Maybe you have been in a situation when, after receiving an extravagant gift, you found yourself saying, “Oh, I can’t possibly accept this.” Our walk with Jesus is a lot like that. Sometimes it’s just too awesome to comprehend that He would surrender His own life to pay for our sins and assure us of everlasting life (1 Peter 1:18-19; Romans 4:25; 2 Corinthians 5:21). In fact, a study several years ago found that those who left the faith did so not because God’s Word was too hard to believe but because it was too good to believe. His extraordinary gifts of love and salvation were just too much.

We live in a society of reciprocity. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. You scratch my back; I’ll scratch yours. An eye for an eye. And so on. Isn’t it comforting to know that in this life there’s a gift we can simply accept—with gratitude—without the pressure, or need, to repay?

Who’s Your BFF?

By Linda Tancs

BFF (best friends forever) is a sweet sentiment, a cherished part of our digital culture. But friendships don’t last forever. After all, we all die. And, sometimes, relationships fail. That doesn’t mean we should neglect pursuing friendships in this life, but it’s comforting to remember that we do have an unfailing BFF—Jesus.

Paul recognized the value of the Lord’s fellowship when he remarked to the Philippians that he counted everything else as loss (Philippians 3:8). For each of us, Jesus is a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). He is our refuge, fortress and shield (Psalm 91). He promised never to leave us nor forsake us, not to abandon us physically or emotionally (Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:5). He gave His life for us.

What would you give for a friend like that?