2 Corinthians 3:5 “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God”
What does it mean to be sufficient? If I take this word from how I practically would apply it, I would relate it to receiving all that I need. If I have a sufficient amount of water or food, it would equate to the amount needed to sustain me.
When it comes to the Word of God, the depth of meaning takes another step forward in application.
The term ‘sufficient’ is from the root word Hikanos. The term is applied in Matthew 3:11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but after me will come One more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy(Hikanos) to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”
The sufficiency of Christ is evident in His worth. He is the only One worthy of filling up peoples insufficiencies. The value of knowing and walking in Christ is worth more than gold, He is immeasurable.
What makes us insufficient? What is it that we are lacking that must be filled?
Colossians 1:24 “I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church,” What is lacking is the tribulations that come with knowing Christ. Many new believers simply have not walked with the Lord long enough to grow in maturity and that maturity comes by way of affliction. Paul was describing to the church that it was by his afflictions that this gospel was presented to them. He was doing the work and suffering that they might benefit.
What does this say to us?
- We must not avoid the trials—but learn to grow through them.
- There is a refining that takes place in the life of each believer—it isn’t easy but it is necessary.
- When we come through these trials, we find the sufficiency of Christ filling up in us all that we need.
1 Peter 1:6-9 “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.”
A common misperception is that trials come like temptation. How we know whether a trial is from God is the nature of the situation. The Lord does not lead you into temptation, He delivers from temptation. If you place yourself in a position of temptation you can be assured that it wasn’t the Lord who brought you there.
James 1:13-14 “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”
The nature of temptation is sin and rebellion.
The nature of trials is growth and maturity.
Through the process of trials we see the sufficiency of Christ in sustaining us and likewise leading us through.
Trials can look like storms that seem to come out of nowhere but also dissipate as quickly as they came or trials can seem like your walking in a vast desert where it is dry, lonely, and seems to have no end, either way, they aren’t pleasant at the moment.
Proverbs 10:25 “When the whirlwind passes by, the wicked is no more, But the righteous has an everlasting foundation.”
Storms of life
Storm of Calamity—
These times of trial occur when we lose someone or something we love, the sadness turns to grieving and a whole host of different responses can occur. The most popular model is the Kubler-Ross cycle of grieving that involves 1. Shock and denial 2. Anger 3. Depression and detachment 4. Dialogue and Bargaining 5. Acceptance, with a hopeful return to a meaningful life. Some people get caught in one of these stages and continue on for years without progressing, some can’t move on and detach indefinitely, or as believers the bargaining is with God and the anger is often turned towards Him. There are those who being nominal in their faith, give up on their faith, never to return. We can either look to the Lord and remember His precepts of love or demand answers for our pain and focus on ourselves.
Storms of Change—A change of careers is a time of moving from one chapter of life to another, a change of people or friends, and sometimes location. These times of change can make you feel like your starting over, the progression of life maintains a consistency for the one who trusts in the Lord. The Lord never changes and whatever He is leading you to is a part of His plan. If we take all that we have grown through previously and apply it to the new environment we find ourselves in, we begin to see the building blocks of faith, working on our behalf for every situation.
Storms of Confinement—There are times we find ourselves in a place that feels boxed in with nowhere to turn, a seemingly dead-end job, debt that seems impossible to overcome, or being incarcerated and kept in a forced confinement because of previous poor decisions. Bad relationships can make you feel enclosed while the repetition of routine can go on for years. The idea that it would take a miracle to escape your situation is a focus towards the hope of a different future and this takes away from all that the Lord is teaching you in the present. If the Lord leads you to a place of confinement, do you think that just possibly He is bringing about this consistency in your life to show you something you couldn’t see before? If we react in fear or only consider what our escape plan might be, we will miss the growth that God is desiring to do at that moment. Trust is hard to develop when everything is going well, it grows exponentially when the Lord proves Himself faithful in the midst of these types of trials.
Storms of Consequence—These are storms that arise from foolish decisions we make in life. We know when we sin, we know the difference from right and wrong and yet we still do them because we have allowed our conscience to be seared through years of neglect. When we continuously forsake God’s law, we make moral decisions that offend Him and place our own sense of morality it their place. God’s pattern of righteousness leads to life, hope, and peace. When we live by our own standard of righteousness, we find that it’s foundation is corrupted ultimately leads us to pain, heartache, and disappointment.
Recognizing the type of storm we are in gives us the wisdom in how we should react through it.
Whether we wait upon the Lord in the midst of confinement, trust in the Lord through our questions of grief, seek the Lord in the midst of change, or repent and turn to the Lord during times of sinful consequence—-how we react will determine how we grow through these times.
Proverbs 12:3 “A man is not established by wickedness, But the root of the righteous cannot be moved.”
Christ is sufficient for us because His love has been proven, He is our root and He is the One that keeps us grounded. He holds within His hands all that we need or desire. Whatever your circumstances, allow Him to come into your void and bring the wisdom of His Word into view as He fills up in your life all that is lacking.