Eight hours of sleep usually refresh an adult for the next day of work, but seven hours of sleep would suffice. A ten-dollar bill should be more than sufficient to pay for a gallon of milk. If one becomes a paraplegic, he should still retain the sufficiency to use his upper body and arms.
Why are you reading about sufficiency? I am writing on this topic because I have felt insufficient many times in my life. Sometimes when youth tell other youth that they struggle with feeling inferior or incompetent, the listeners are surprised, for it never looked that way to them. This poses a point: I believe that many youth, if not all of them, are frustrated by feelings of insufficiency at some stage of their youth lives. In sharing this with you, and other direction God has shown me, I hope we all can become sufficient in Christ. I want you to know that God receives the glory for the changes He has made in me, and for the words He is inspiring right now.
Suffice, a verb, is defined by Webster as “to be enough for.” Sufficient, an adjective, is “enough to meet the needs of a situation or a proposed end.” Sufficiency then is the quality or state of being sufficient. Synonyms for sufficient are enough, adequate, and competent.
Do you, with your talents, weak points, possessions, and personality, suffice? No. Are you sufficient for God, your family, friends, youth group, co-workers, acquaintances, and strangers? No. And, no, you alone do not possess the sufficiency to live a triumphant Christian life, much less make it to heaven.
There is hope! In 2 Corinthians 3:4-6, Paul writes, “And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.”
As far as I comprehend these verses, they state that our abilities cannot make us sufficient towards God. They simply say that our sufficiency is only from God. Also, it says that He provides the power to make us sufficient in our hearts and spirits, not specifying our physical, mental, social, or financial abilities. Sufficiency from God through Jesus is the only condition to be met in order to achieve a heavenly home. Being sufficient in one or more or all of the other areas will not make us worthy of heaven. In reality, it is not possible.
I believe that I have tried to portray to the people around me that I am, in fact, sufficient. Since I can never attain that sufficiency, Satan has enjoyed my futile attempts and consequential despair. I want to be sufficient for the needs of my friends and family. I want to be sufficiently good at the things my friends are good at. I also want to have sufficient friends. I want to have sufficient money and to be sufficiently attractive. However, I can never acquire that sufficiency on my own. Even though we may look at some youth and think that they are able, they cannot attain to it either. The fall of Adam and Eve ordained that we and our abilities would not be enough. Jeremiah acknowledges this: “O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jer. 10:23).
A student once handed in an art paper to her upper-grade teacher and asked him, like so many students ask, “Is this good enough?” The teacher was, in my opinion, a skilled artist. He didn’t even study it but gave it back with, “Hand it in when it is good.” The student was dismayed. How was she going to know what was good? She felt that art was obviously not one of her strengths. Nevertheless, she worked hard on it, even though her art sense was short and her practice lacking. I don’t know how the teacher responded when she had completed it, but I am sure that he accepted it, because he knew she had learned the lesson of doing well, not just “good enough.”
We are those students. We try to be good enough. We sometimes judge others’ reactions to us and then say to ourselves, consciously or unconsciously, “I think that turned out pretty well.” Or, on the other side of the spectrum, we might think, “I will never be good enough for him, or her, or them.” That is Satan’s goal: to have us focus on our own sufficiency or lack of it. Then he can tear us apart or pull us down. He is delighted when we are not on a consistent level but constantly changing and, therefore, feeling frustrated.
How can we be not only good enough, but good? I know now that there is unlimited power, through God, in the attitude that Paul had. He had a thorn in his flesh, and he felt that if it could be taken away he could be much more effective in God’s ministry. However, God had a superior way. In 2 Corinthians 12:9, God speaks first, and then Paul accepts. “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” That, to me, has been one of the most beautiful verses in the Bible. Now I can be glad for my weaknesses, for the daily problems that arise, and for my inadequate abilities, for these are opportunities for God to show His power.
A potter cannot show us his skill with a formed and fired piece of pottery. He rather will demonstrate his occupation by using an uncomely, misshapen, even ugly lump of clay. So it is with God. If you feel weak, untalented, insignificant, or not up to par in any way, know that you are the perfect opportunity for God to manifest His unlimited strength.
Which looks easier: trying to be sufficient or letting God be your sufficiency? It looks so easy on the page, doesn’t it? Now you have the answer to your insufficiency! Take note of 2 Corinthians 2:14, “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ.” Read it again. He always causes us to triumph, because of Christ. We let God and ourselves down when we try to be sufficient. He makes us sufficient, and much more than enough, so that we can live freely and joyfully and so that we can attain heaven.
In closing, a quote from a friend reads, “My self-worth does not come from the people around me, but from Jesus Christ.” May we let God’s grace be our sufficiency. Let us also pray for each other, for that is key in our making it to heaven. Courage!
From Messenger of Truth, No. 12, June 13, 2012