The Standard February 26, 2020
“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. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?” (2 Corinthians 2:14-16)
“Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”(2 Corinthians 3: 4-6)
In The Message translation of this passage Eugene Peterson replaces the words “sufficient” and “sufficiency” with “competent” and “competency.” In and of ourselves, we are completely insufficient or incompetent when it comes to spiritual matters. Left to our own devices we can’t meet God’s standards. Our goodness, best intentions, hard work and talents are not enough. With God in the equation, everything changes.
John Gill, English Baptist pastor and theologian of the 1700s writes in his commentary, “Though we are sufficient for this work to which God has called us, and have such trust and confidence that he has blessed and owned us, and done such great things by us; yet we do not ascribe anything to ourselves, to any power of ours, to any self-sufficiency in us: for ‘we are not sufficient of ourselves’ neither for the work of the ministry, nor for the conversion of sinners, nor for faith and hope in God, nor for any spiritual work whatever; not even to think anything as of ourselves; any good thing, either for our own use and benefit, or for the advantage of others; we are not able of ourselves to mediate with judgment and affection upon the word of God, to study the Scriptures, to collect from them things fit for the ministry; and much less with freedom and boldness to speak of them to edification; and still less able to impress them upon the heart: for though you who are the epistle of Christ are ministered by us, yet not by any power and self-sufficiency of ours.”
Thanks be to God for being completely sufficient. The sinless life, sacrificial death and victorious resurrection of Jesus offer a way for our less-than-enough lives to be transformed wholly by God’s more-than-enough grace.
Let us join with the hymn writer of “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus” in praying, “Born thy people to deliver, born a child and yet a King, born to reign in us forever, now thy gracious kingdom bring. By thine own eternal spirit rule in all our hearts alone; by thine all sufficient merit, raise us to thy glorious throne.”