PJ’s Daily Devotional for Thursday, January 12, 2017
Today’s Bible Reading is 2 Corinthians 2.
Do you have what it takes within yourself?
Sufficiency is defined as having the resources necessary to achieve the goal or fill the need that one is set to do; to be adequate, qualified. Within this one word, this one definition, lies the fundamental difference between humanism and Christianity.
“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16 to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? 17 For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:14–17).”
In my youth (which I now realize includes most of my 20s, possibly 30s too), I lived with a deeply-rooted self-sufficiency from my humanistic upbringing. In other words, I relied upon myself to get things done; I saw myself as capable and able to do anything that I set my mind to accomplish. I honestly believed myself to have the resources necessary within myself to accomplish any goal I desired. I have never been so wrong about anything in my life!
I believe I discovered this truth about myself because of my incessant ambition: in everything I did I went for the highest and loftiest aspiration, and I accomplished a lot! I have never been one to turn away from a challenge or hardship, rather I ran toward it! Most likely, it was that life philosophy is what drove me into the arms of Jesus! Like a merciless task master, I drove myself to the end of myself with an unforgiving need to prove my worth to myself time after time. And guess who was waiting for me when I hit the wall of pride and performance? Not just once, but at 17… At 22… At 28… At 31… At 40…
Lord, why do I have to keep learning this lesson over and over again? Only in Christ am I sufficient!!!
One of the most startling examples of that is my dual Ranger School experiences in the US Army. Yes, I had the privilege of going through Ranger School the equivalent of 2 times, but only was qualified as a US Army Ranger once. How did that happen?
The first time I went through this elite military school, I got beat down physically, mentally, and emotionally. I was driven by my own ambition and was pulling from my resources; at 22 years-old, I was still striving from the shallow pools (I thought they were much deeper!) of my own sufficiency. And I almost lost my mind as my body and emotions completely came up short in this grueling, merciless training environment. This drove me into the arms of God in a way that I am so thankful for!
I returned to Ranger School 6 months later a new man (2 Corinthians 5:17) with a sufficiency well beyond myself and I not only graduated straight through the very same training, but I missed honor graduate by one spot (it was that final patrol in the swamp phase that did me in!). To God be the Glory for getting me through something I absolutely proved incapable of doing on my own; that is empirical evidence in my life of the sufficiency of Christ in a very real-world example!
And here is the most awesome thing about that story! The first time I went through Ranger School I was not a witness of anything good to anyone. It was my desire to be a witness of my own awesomeness that first time and instead I looked and honestly acted like a failure. But the second time I went through, many were drawn to me for encouragement and inspiration; I was a fragrant aroma of Christ! I had no desire to draw people to me, but God did because He was getting the glory from His sufficiency in me!
Here is the bottom line about sufficiency: humanism teaches that you have everything you need within yourself; whereas Christianity teaches that apart from Christ we can do nothing (John 15:5).
In Christ, you have everything you need! As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:5, “Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God.” Greater is He who is in us! Praise God for the indwelling Holy Spirit who has sealed us with a deposit of that which is to come (see my devotion on 2 Corinthians 1)!
Remember, it is God’s grace (His gift to you!) when you hit the wall of pride and performance! It is better to hit that wall in this life so that you may repent from your humanistic-tendencies and turn to Jesus Christ to be your sufficiency. Pride keeps us away from fully receiving the sufficiency of Christ for ourselves; whereas humility leads us to grace. And only those who are humble (those who have received God’s grace) will enter into the presence of God; no one can enter Heaven by their own sufficiency!
Have you hit the wall of your own pride and performance?