In his devotional book titled My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers wrote the following for May 25th: Whenever right is made the guidance in life, it will blunt the spiritual insight.  The great enemy of the life of faith in God is not sin, but the good which is not good enough.  The good is always the enemy of the best.

I/we tend to settle for the good.  Let me be clear, there is nothing wrong with good.  In fact, Scripture encourages us to not grow weary of doing good (Galatians 6:9 NIV).  The stumbling occurs when we decide something we have done is ‘good enough.’  It’s almost like admitting we know that it is not the best, but that it, (whatever it is), will have to suffice.

Jesus had much to say on this topic.  If you have a bible handy, please read Luke 10:38-42.  In case you don’t, here’s a quick paraphrase: Jesus and His entourage are passing through a village on their way to Jerusalem.  As was the custom of that time, He and the group with Him stopped at the home of some people He knew, Martha and Mary (whose brother was Lazarus).

As was also customary then, the hostess, in this case the older sister Martha, was expected to provide a meal for these guests.  With no microwave or take-out available, meal preparation was an involved process back in the day.  Martha goes about these preparations while her sister Mary opts to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to Him talk.  Martha is so upset by this that she goes to Jesus in an attempt to have Him intervene on her behalf and make Mary help her.

I love Jesus’ response: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will  not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42 NIV).

Though compassionate toward her heart, Jesus tells Martha straight-up that Mary had chosen what was better.  Yes, preparing a meal for guests was a good thing, but being in the presence of the Son of God was (and is!) infinitely better.

We all need to be careful to not fall into the ‘it’s good enough’ trap because it is almost always a self-serving one.  I can rationalize with the best of them that my reasons (excuses) for not going the extra mile are legitimate.  After all, look how busy I am, and at least I’m doing something, are frequent thoughts I struggle with in this area.

The bottom line is this: if I say something is good enough simply for my own reason(s), it isn’t.  When I honestly look at a certain set of circumstances over which I have said or felt this way, this truth is invariably revealed.  The root of the vast majority of my ‘good enoughs’ is selfishness.  There is usually something I have/want to do that seems more important, hence the need for the good enough label placed on what I was doing.

How shallow this is, particularly when viewed through the lens of eternal matters. Jesus’ mild rebuke to Martha thankfully is speaking to me today, reminding me that I am but a small cog in the cause of Christ.  Today, I choose what is better, which means I am closer to Jesus than I was.  As I get closer, I realize how much more I need Him.  He offers the absolute best, why would I want to settle for anything that is merely good enough?

2 thoughts on “When Good Enough Isn’t

  1. Interesting Note: OC didn’t write Utmost per se. The book is a compilation of notes that his wife made of his sermons.

    Family Christian Press published “The Devotional Writings of OC” that includes both My Utmost and “Daily Thoughts for His Disciples”. The morning devos are from Utmost and the evening reading from the Thoughts collection.

    Enjoy! \o/

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  2. Karl, that is an important clarification. It accounts for the brevity and very occasional awkwardness in the construction of the devotionals. Still, thank God for those shorthand notes. Thank you Chuck for sharing the nuggets that have blessed you, me and millions of others!

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