suf·fi·cient | \ sə-ˈfi-shənt : enough to meet the needs of a situation or a proposed end
In our supersized society, we hear the word sufficient and think it isn’t adequate. We like to be prepared, to have extra, to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we won’t run out. We like to feel in control. We like to think that we have the power in any given situation, and if we don’t, we spend all of our energy scrambling around trying to get it. It can be frustrating. It can be exhausting. There has to be a better way.
Sufficient literally means, “to have enough.” If I need 6 eggs for a recipe and I open the fridge to find exactly half a dozen in the carton, that is enough and I can proceed. What often happens though, is that I start to worry. If I use all of the eggs that I have left, what will happen if I want an egg for breakfast and don’t have one in the fridge to make? This is obviously a simple example and it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if I had to go one day without an egg for breakfast. I know I can stop by the store and get more. The problem is that we do this with other things. We start to attach our “what if’s” to our time, our money and our energy. We become stingy because we are afraid of running out. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t have healthy boundaries. Boundaries are important and should be in place over all of those categories in your life. What I’m talking about is selfishness. We let fear crowd our better judgement and so we fearfully cling to things that we should be generous with because we can’t bear the thought of being without.
In 2 Corinthians 12:9, God tell us, “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” There is a lot to unpack in this short phrase, but once we really understand this and rest in it, we can truly live in freedom.
First we need to decide how we view God. Is he a dictator, just telling us what to do but not really caring about us individually? Is he a genie, granting wishes to those who ask correctly? Is he a judge, weighing all of our behaviors in order to acquit or condemn us? The Bible tells us that God is love and that he loves each human being personally, that he is the way, the truth and the life, that he is the creator of the universe and that he is the first and the last, the beginning and end, that he has always existed and always will be. If we accept that all of those things are true, that makes God much bigger than us, with greater vision than we have, but also shows us that he takes a personal interest in each of us as individuals.
The next thing we need to understand is grace. Grace is unmerited favor. In other words, it is receiving a kindness that I didn’t earn and don’t even deserve. True grace is a rare thing to see in our world. In general, we earn everything that we receive. We receive good grades because we study, we receive a paycheck because we work and we receive a promotion because we work hard and do our job well. It is also not the same as mercy. Mercy is not getting a punishment that you do deserve. It is being let off the hook when you really owe some sort of debt. In the case of grace, it requires the giver to share without any strings attached. You can’t lend grace. It has to be a gift, freely given, with no expectation for anything in return.
Lastly we need to put the whole phrase together. My grace is sufficient for you. God’s grace, his unmerited favor, is enough for us. In other words, he will provide for us in our time of need. That doesn’t mean that we get everything that we want and sometimes he knows what we actually need better than we do, but he will take care of us. The second part of that phrase says, “my power is made perfect in weakness.” Weakness in this case is lack. In other words, I don’t need to fear running out of eggs. I don’t need to spend all of my energy storing up extra. I can use what he has provided and rest assured that he will provide more the next time that I have a need. This is obviously not about eggs. I can go to the store and get more of those anytime. However, this does pertain to time, money, energy and other things that we tightly hold on to. God extends grace to us and expects us to in turn to extend that to those around us. We can be generous with our time, talent and treasure because God has been generous in providing those things to us. He doesn’t give us gifts for us to hoard them for ourselves. He models grace for us so that we can also give it away. He provides everything we need and then tells us to love others well. I John 3:17 says, “If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?” This goes for other things too, not just money.
What does this mean for you?
This means that you can live confidently and give freely. You are loved, you are provided for and that provision is sufficient. Go and do likewise.