Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Sufficiency of God

When I first read:

"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

"Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." (Matthew 6:33-34)

I was ecstatic. Life would be so simple, I thought.

Jesus counsels us not to worry about the bare necessities of life, food, drink, clothing. God the Father feeds the birds of the air, clothes the lilies of the field, both of which are of little esteem compared to us! "How much more" Jesus teases us. Only those of "little faith" would still dispute the infinite goodness of God.

Yet the crush of real life always dissuaded me. I still looked down at a depleted bank account or a withdrawn balance. When resources were down, so was I. When I made a mistake or misread something, I got afraid, as if God was not watching out for me.

Of course, another question kept nagging at me: If I just occupy myself with "seeking the Kingdom of God and his righteousness", how is that that "everything else "shall be added" to me?

After learning about the importance of rightly dividing the Word of God (cf 2 Timothy 2:15), I realized that I had to pay attention to when Jesus made these bold pronouncements.

In the matter of not "taking thought" for anything, Jesus gave these commands in the Sermon on the Mount (cf Matthew 5 through 7), one of the most popular sermons recorded in the New Testament. Yet the contents of the whole sermon promote the ultimate standards of the law to their impossible height, as well as speaking to the blessings that would later be released to all believers.

For example, the promise:

"Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." (Matthew 5:6)

is actually fully realized for the believer:

"For he [God the Father] hath made him [Jesus Christ] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Hungry for righteousness? No longer a need when you are THE righteousness of God in Christ!

Then there is the command:

"Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." (Matthew 5: 4)

How am I supposed to "be perfect" like God Himself? That's impossible for me, or for any man. But not for God (cf Matthew 19:26), a promise which He gave to us through Hiss Son:

"For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)" (Romans 5:17)

Jesus presents what will me and what we must be, both of which were accomplished in us, through us, and for us through His Finished Work on the Cross.

Yet when Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount, he had not been crucified and glorified yet. Part of "rightly dividing the word of God" is recognizing the demands and claims of Jesus Christ before or after His death and resurrection.

Therefore, the reader recognizes that Jesus makes these demands on his listeners before His Crucifixion, it becomes apparent to all that these demands are to show up mankind in his infinite impotence, apart from the grace of God.

What does the grace of God have to do with realizing and fulfilling the promises and commands of Jesus Christ?

The crucial element to this answer lies in the last line of Matthew 6:

"The morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." (Matthew 6:34)

Of course, I was not too comforted upon rereading this verse. "The morrow" taking care of tomorrow's needs did not some like a good bet. What could the following day provide in itself. Also, the "evil" of today sounds foreboding, and its "sufficiency" hardly mitigates the challenges which this day poses for us.

However, we must remember that these commands to us would be fulfilled for us by the Christ's work at the Cross.

Take the word "sufficient", which makes two more appearances, both in Paul's second epistle to the Corinthians:

"And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work" (2 Corinthians 9:8)

Here, it is "God's grace" through His Son Jesus Christ (cf Ephesians 2: 4-8) that moves and motivates us "in all things", which covers today and tomorrow.

Later in the same epistle, Paul writes:

"And he [Jesus] said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." (2 Corinthians 12:9)

What challenges, whatever "evil" Paul was facing, he boldly entrusted himself to the grace of God through His Son Jesus Christ.

It is the grace of God on which every believer can trust when Jesus promises:

"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matthew 6:33)

And seeking the Kingdom of Heaven is no longer a hurried or frustrated trek, but a gift by the same of grace of God:

"Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." (Luke 12:32)

Regarding the present definition of the Kingdom for the believer in Christ, Paul writes to the Romans:

"For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." (Romans 14:17)

This verse is telling for its comity with Jesus' promise of infinite supply in the Sermon on the Mount. The Kingdom of God abounds beyond our needs of "meat and drink", instilling us with righteousness, while peace and joy are evident fruits of the Spirit, which bears without our striving (cf Galatians 5: 22-23)

So, the sufficiency which Jesus' listeners were exhorted to heed in Matthew 6 was provided in infinite abundance through His grace, available to us upon His death on the Cross!

With this revelation, I understood how by my seeking God's kingdom, which is in effect within every believer (cf Luke 1:21) kindled by the indwelling Holy Spirit, that God's grace in infinite supply would carry me through today and all days to follow. There is no reason for us to fret.

Yet even if doubts still disturbed me, I merely meditated on the blessed promise of 1John 1:7:

"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."

The blood of Jesus assures our righteousness forever before God, cleansing even now and forever every sin that we have committed, are committing, and ever will commit! We have no need to worry about sinning. There is no reason for "taking thought" for anything. Paul explains why:

"What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

"He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8: 31-32)

Jesus was delivered for us, forever declaring us righteous before the Father, and with Jesus Christ "all things" are added unto us!

The sufficiency of God is assured for every believer in Christ. Therefore, the believer has no need for "taking thought" for food, drink, clothing, shelter, or any other thing. The grace of God is sufficient of this day and every day!

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