A More Than Efficient Grace

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Philip answered Him, “Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.”  John 6:7

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Lord, I’m glad that Philip realized that what he had was not sufficient to meet the need.  Because, actually, none of us are sufficient in ourselves.  So, I guess I’m going to spend a little more time in essentially the same place.  Only today, I guess You’re going to let me look at my insufficiency and Your sufficiency.  And that sounds good to me.

So, we’re looking at this mass of people below us on the mountain.  And You care about them so You see a basic immediate need.  “Philip, how will we feed them all?”  I can relate to that question and I can relate to Philip’s answer.  As You allow me to participate with You in missions in the Philippines, I see great needs, and it’s not that they are such expensive needs in themselves, but because of the number of people with the need for things like toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, washcloths, clothes, food, or to learn a livelihood; how can I or just a few people even begin to meet that need on our own?  And the answer is, I can’t.  We can’t.  Not sufficiently on our own.

I mean, even if I, like Andrew, gave my friend’s fish and bread, that in itself is not sufficient.  Something had to make the fish and bread sufficient.  But the fish and bread given was an act of faith.  It’s that mustard seed faith You talk about.  It’s that taking a step in our insufficiency toward You and giving You the opportunity to turn it into something sufficient.

What does “sufficient” here really mean anyways?  Vine’s Greek New Testament Dictionary defines “arkeo” as “to be sufficient, to be possessed of sufficient strength, to be strong, to be enough for a thing;” hence, “to defend, ward off.”  So Philip was saying, “I am not strong enough for this task.”  And, maybe in a sense, understanding our insufficiency is warding off pride and self-sufficiency and defending the glory of God.  Now, that’s just my thoughts, Lord.

 But I think 2 Corinthians 12:9 agrees with that thought.  Because in using this same word for sufficient, “arkeo,” Lord, You told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”  What was that all about?  Well, Paul had just prayed that some physical ailment be removed from him, that You would remove his “thorn in the flesh.”  But Your answer was, “No.”  Through this hardship of Paul’s, You were going to give him everything he needed and be glorified in him, even through this weakness.  Actually, You would be shown strong in him especially because of his weakness.  People would see and know that the power was from You and not from Paul.  Your love, Your power, Your everything was everything He needed.  When You said Your grace was sufficient, You weren’t just talking about mercy.  Your supernatural power to meet every actual need is all we need.  That is what is actually more than sufficient.

It’s really important for me to realize that I’m weak, that I need help, that I can’t do it on my own.  Because I need to see myself as dependent on You.  I mean, I can’t even clean up my own sin problem.  There’s no good works I could do that would take care of that because no good works compare to Your perfect sinlessness.  But that’s it.  You are the Sufficient One.  And You are not only sufficient to take care of setting me free from sin as I place myself in Your sufficiency, but You go so far beyond that.  Now, You make me sufficient for each thing You call me to.  As I obey and follow Your lead You fill me with this working grace that is sufficient in its supernatural power to make Your will come to pass.

And there are different ways that this supernatural sufficiency works in me.  And there are different words in Greek for expressing it.  Paul chooses to use “hikanos” to express sufficiency in 2 Corinthians 3:5.  “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves, to think anything as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God.”  The implication for me here is that even my character is not ample or fit unles I allow You to make it so supernaturally (that’s through grace).  And how will I ever be able to meet the needs of the masses or correct my character?  “God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.”  (2 Corinthians 9:8)  Here Paul uses “autarkeia” which means “contentedness, a competence.”  This is exciting stuff here, Lord.  You will make me sufficiently able to meet those needs You put in front of me through Your supernatural power.  And it will abound in me.  Actually, the Greek word implies superabound.  That makes sense, because Your grace is supernatural.  I may be weak but that just gives You the opportunity to be super in every way and people will know it’s You and not me because how could I ever do that?

Lord, I am so grateful for this time today and Your specific words today.  It doesn’t matter that I only stepped ahead one verse.  Because yesterday I heard something that really disappointed me and it really had to do with all this.  It has to do with You taking me on the mountain and showing me the need.  And it has to do with me wanting to be a part of meeting that need with You.  And it doesn’t matter really who else sees that need.  What matters is that You see and You shared that with some.  And for everyone who doesn’t see, who maybe were shown something else, it’s o.k.  Because they aren’t my sufficiency.  You alone are my sufficiency.  I know You are already at work to meet that need.  I see it when people catch that vision.  And You have lots of visions for Your children.    So, I’ll respond to what You show me.  I’ll give You my fish and loaves.  And I will depend on You to pull it all together.  And I will be superjoyful as You give me the opportunity to pass out the overflowing fish and loaves that You will supply!

So what’s my prayer today, Lord.  I pray that I will keep my eyes on You.  Guard me against self-sufficiency.  Guard me against thinking a task is bigger than You.  Remind me continually of who You are.  Continually rise up on behalf of those You show me and please, rise up on my behalf.  I need You desperately, always.  Teach me to continually rely on the sufficiency of Your grace in every area of my life.  I need You to superabound in me for the benefit of others and for Your glory.  I want people to see it’s all because of You.  And I want them to be drawn to You.  So, if I have to, let me “glory in my infirmities,” in my hardships, in my trials, in my setbacks, in the misunderstandings, “that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”  Really, Lord, let it be.  Have Your way in me that everything is for Your glory.

 

 

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