Leaders of most of this world’s nations strive hard to make their country self-sufficient in man’s basic necessities – food, clothing, shelter, plus energy, mass communication/transport, national defense. In the process these nations may, knowingly or unknowingly, fall into the trap of making self-sufficiency some kind of idol – a false god – they bow down to. This may result in coveting the resources of other nations, even going to war to obtain these. James 4:1-5 succinctly points out this grave human tendency.
Everyone needs to know that our Creator is a God of sufficiency: He is able to supply us our needs sufficiently – even abundantly. Jesus, however, stated how we can avail ourselves of this sufficiency: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things [our necessities, Verse 31] shall be added to you” (Matthew 6: 32).
The kingdom of God is the rule or government of God that Jesus Christ will impose on all humanity when He returns to take power over all the earth (Revelation 11:15-16). [See: “The Next Chapter of History.”] It will bring about great abundance and prosperity and joy!
God’s righteousness is God’s perfect, sinless attitude and conduct (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18; 4:15), as shown by His commandments and laws (Psalm 119:172). Such righteousness is imputed to us by faith through God’s grace (Philippians 3:9). [See: God’s Spirit and Obedience, Saved for Good Works, and Being and Doing.]
A faithful follower of Jesus, the apostle Paul affirmed: “And my God shall supply all your needs according to the riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). However, Paul also experienced that God may decide, for a higher reason, to not grant our every request.
Paul apparently had some physical affliction that he attributed to Satan the devil (2 Corinthians 12:7) – probably a problem with his eyesight, as indicated by how he had to write his epistle to the Galatians with “large letters” (Galatians 4:11).
Thrice Paul had implored God to remove the affliction from him. But God refused to do so for a higher purpose – that Paul may not be “exalted above measure [become puffed up] by the abundance of revelations” (Verse 7, first part) he had received from Christ, who said to him: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (Verse 9). Paul went on to state a sublime paradox: “Therefore most gladly I will rather take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (Verses 9-10).
God’s grace through Christ – the undeserved pardon which every believer receives through faith and repentance – is sufficient for all. The blood which Jesus as the “Lamb of God” shed all the way from Pilate’s court, down through the “Via Dolorosa,” up to the cross at Calvary, is sufficient to take away the sin of the whole world (John 1:29). As a Protestant hymn declares about God’s grace: it “can pardon and cleanse within, grace that is greater than all our sin.”
God’s sufficiency in Old Testament times
God provided “bread” for His people Israel during their wilderness sojourn [see Exodus 16]. Verses 17-18 relate about God’s amazing provision: “Then the children of Israel did so and gathered [manna], some more, some less. So when they measured it by omers, he who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack.”
Paul saw in this miracle a principle he taught to the Christians in Corinth: “For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack — that there may be equality” (2 Corinthians 8:13-15).
Sufficiency of trials, too!
Besides grace, God also gives us sufficient trials and burdens to bear each day. Jesus said: “Therefore do not [overly] worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34).
Knowing this, Paul was also inspired to write: “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make a way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Yes, God will not give us a trial so great that we cannot bear it. Cain, the world’s first murderer, complained that the punishment God gave him for murdering his brother Abel was “greater than I can bear” (Genesis 4:13). By saying thus to and about God, Cain profaned God’s righteous, holy name. Let’s not become guilty of the same error!
God give you the grace to experience His sufficiency every day!
Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.