When Good Is Better Than Best

There is an adage, “Good is the enemy of best.” The point is that settling for something that is merely good may mean that something better is never attained. It seems to be a cultural imperative these days that we never settle for less than what we believe will prove to be the absolute best for us. But I’m coming to a different conclusion.

In my personal quest for the best possible outcome in each and every situation, I’m seeing that I have sometimes passed up some good possibilities; because I was worried that just around that next corner could be what I really, really, really wanted, I failed to take advantage of the opportunity at hand. In such cases, it seems to me that “best” is really the enemy of “good.” Going for the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow caused me to miss the beauty of the rainbow. I would probably be happier if I embraced the journey, rather than always being fixated on reaching my next goal.

While thinking about this, I was reminded of something that Peter said about Jesus: He went around doing good.1 Jesus took advantage of opportunities to do good whenever they presented themselves.

There is also the classic passage from Paul’s letter to the Romans where he writes that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”2 I have often taken solace in that verse when things didn’t seem to be going at all well. But lately I have been thinking deeper on that scripture and how all things work for good, not necessarily best. I am not sure I am in the best situation right now, but I know it is good, and rather than fretting about what I don’t have, I could be finding and enjoying the positives in my present circumstances.

Solomon apparently came to a similar conclusion, because he wrote, “Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat, to drink and enjoy oneself in all one’s labor … for this is his reward.”3 If that’s so, a constant search for something better can cause us to not appreciate the good thing we already have.

So should we be happy to settle for the good? Perhaps not all the time, but I think we might be happier overall if we often did. After all, good is not a bad thing!

  1. See Acts 10:38.
  2. Romans 8:28, emphasis added.
  3. Ecclesiastes 5:18 NASB