“Our sufficiency is from God”+
Do you ever feel afraid that life will overwhelm you, has overwhelmed you? That you are not “enough” for the situation in which you find yourself, that your personal resources are insufficient for the task at hand? Well, the bad news is that, so far as it depends on you, and so far as it relates to the biggest issues of life, you are dead right. You are not enough. Neither am I.
But the good news is that this uncomfortable fact need not be the end of the story. We can be “enough”. We can break through the fear of failure and defeat, and we can be confident that our efforts are not in vain. No matter how inadequate our capabilities and achievements might seem, there is a path to confidence in what we are and what we do. How? Through grace accepted by faith, through sticking fast to Christ, and living in Him and His will.
This is precisely how St Paul achieved or, more accurately, received his confidence. “Such trust have we toward God through Christ” he says at the beginning of today's Epistle. He believed that God would do the work of ministry through him as he walked by faith. And he believed that whatever God did, even using weak human vessels, was “sufficient”. Because, of course, while God uses us, he does much more than just rely on our actions.
Now St Paul's ministry was the service of the Gospel, communicating by word and deed God's New Covenant, Spirit, Life and Justification. Your ministry may not be identical to his, nevertheless, as a Christian, your role is inextricably tied up with that new life, that power of God to build up the kingdom of the Cross.
[Quote from Romans 12]
1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function,
5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them …
10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.
12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. …
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
We can overcome. We can be sufficient.
“God will never lead you where he cannot keep you” is an old saying. It means , among other things, that, if we obey God's will, we will be able to cope with whatever life throws our way (cp. Matthew 6:25-34, 1 Corinthians 10:13, Philippians 2:13). And it also means that God will enable us to achieve what he has called us to. As St Augustine prayed to God, “Command what thou wilt, and give what thou commandest.” It's easy for us to be afraid our efforts will come to nothing, or even that our failures and surrounding difficulties will drown us. But, if we follow the logic of God's grace, we will see that it is only by abandoning that grace that we can truly fail. It is only disobedience that we need fear. God's providence knows no failure in the final analysis, so if we cooperate with him, we can be certain that he has bound up our puny offerings of service into the fabric of his mighty plan, and that “all things work together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28).
“Fear not”, Jesus said, on many occasions. “Only believe”, he once attached to that statement. Fear not, just trust. Find what God would have you do, and do it in Christ, in his name, by his Spirit. Do it by faith, consciously and continually relying and calling upon his grace. And let God take care of the rest. For our little seeds can grow into mighty trees as God grants the growth (Mark 4:27, 1 Corinthians 3:7). And even he who sows in tears will reap in joy (Psalm 126:5). Do not be afraid. +