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This post is Part 1 in a 3-part blog series on good and bad. Often we have a clear division in our mind about what is good vs. what is bad, usually rooted in our family or cultural upbringing. For example, making more money is good; making less money is bad. Being healthy is good; having a physical limitation is bad. Getting married and having a family is good; being single or getting divorced is bad. And so on it goes.

I’d like to make the case that our distinctions between good and bad aren’t as clear-cut as we sometimes believe them to be. For example, there can often be some difficulties or struggles associated with the things we consider ‘good,’ especially if we focus too much on them.

I’m reading a great book by Tim Keller called Counterfeit Gods. Keller makes the case that we all have idols in our lives. An idol is anything we view as more important than God, and often they are good things taken to the extreme. The idol always fails to satisfy us, perhaps because we put so much pressure on it to do something it was never meant to do. Your spouse might be really great, but rely on that person to be your ultimate source of happiness, and they will be sure to disappoint you. Money can be helpful, but if it becomes your god, it can easily wreck your life.

Even things that we might consider ‘purely good’ can come back to bite us if we aren’t careful. Helping others is a wonderful thing, but if you help too much, you can make others dependent upon you and hold back their development. Forgiveness is great, but if you don’t balance forgiveness with boundaries, you could find yourself stuck in a situation that isn’t good for you.

As you are working toward the things you consider ‘good,’ remember that there is usually some bad mixed in with the good.

Discussion: What difficulties or problems do you notice about the ‘good’ things in your life? What good things have you set up as an idol in your life?

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