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.

Keeping Up With the Joneses

By Linda Tancs

The temptation toward self-sufficient materialism expresses itself in our culture today (particularly in a capitalist, consumer-driven society) with the old “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality. How often do you envy what someone else has or has done? How does it influence your own behavior? Do you buy the same brand of car as your colleagues, particularly if your occupation dictates the kind of car you should be driving? Do you enroll your children in the same activities or school as those you admire? Even the disciples started an argument among them as to who would be the greatest (Luke 9:46-48).

Healthy competition is one thing, but rivalry amounts to chasing the wind (Ecclesiastes 4:4-6). In fact, Philippians 2:3-4 warns against doing anything out of rivalry and conceit. Why? Because it’s so dangerous. It manifests in an upset of the love people/use things equilibrium. When one desires to be on a par with everyone else, the result is often using people to get more of the things one loves, failing to recognize that other people or circumstances do not dictate our riches. Only God gives, and God can take away (Job 1:21).

Measure yourself by God’s standards, not those of others (Galatians 6:4). You’re a marvelous work of God (Ephesians 2:10) with your own gifts and talents. Use your gifts in service to others and you’ll be less likely to fall prey to the kind of envy that rots the bones (Proverbs 14:30).

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.

The Better Love

By Linda Tancs

St. Augustine of Hippo remarked that there are two loves: love of God and love of the world. We should look at each of these as dually faceted—love of God relates to your love toward God and God’s love toward you, and love of the world relates to your love of the things of this world as well as the world’s love of you (in the form of adulation, reputation, etc.).

The Bible is replete with evidence of God’s love for us. After all, He gave us His only Son so that we might have eternal life (John 3:16). He loves us with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3) that brings with it a spirit of adoption as children of God by which we cry “Abba” (Romans 8:15), an Aramaic word for father. Conversely, we are able to love others (including God) because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). God is love (1 John 4:8), and therefore He commands us to love Him as well as our neighbor (Luke 10:27).

Augustine aims at the fact that when we’re unable to love, then we do not know God. And when we do not know God, then love of the world is likely to ensue. First John 2:15-17 instructs that all of the things of this world— the pursuit of self-sufficient materialism that drives the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—are at odds with God. Likewise, the importance you place on the world’s love of you is a barrier to God’s love dwelling in you. The concept of “keeping up with the Joneses” epitomizes the point. It manifests in an upset of the love people/use things equilibrium. When one desires to be on a par with everyone else or to increase one’s standing or reputation at the expense of others, the result is often the use of people to get more of the things one loves, failing to recognize that other people or circumstances do not dictate our riches. Only God gives, and God can take away (Job 1:21).

God’s love is the better love, and Augustine exhorts us to let it take over. Will you?