Sufficiency of Christ – Freedom from Self-Sufficiency
The Sufficiency of Christ is summed-up in one verse: "I can do everything through him who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:13).
There was a time when a person who had a weakness in some specific area was said to have a handicap. Today these weaknesses are no longer called handicaps, but challenges. There are those with some weakness in their body who are said to be physically challenged. Others who have a problem with mental development are said to be mentally challenged.
Other "handicaps" that have been turned into challenges include those with bad eyesight who are declared to be visually challenged, those who are extremely shy who are said to be socially challenged, and even those who are short in stature might be called "vertically challenged!" Yes, all of us have weaknesses, handicaps, or challenges. Regardless of what you call it, there are areas in which we are simply not able to fulfill the call, to complete the task, or to accomplish the mission that God has given us due to some weakness we possess. How we react to these challenges will determine whether we have the attitude of self-sufficiency or the attitude of Christ-sufficiency. The self-sufficient attitude is "I can do everything!" The Christ-sufficient attitude adds, "through him who gives me strength."
Sufficiency of Christ – His Grace is Sufficient
When it comes to the sufficiency of Christ in a Christian’s life, the competing attitudes of independence and self-sufficiency have been around for a long time. In most societies, these are admired traits. It has been said that it was this "rugged individualism" that laid the foundation for the United States, and it is this same attitude that has been her strength since. Without a doubt there are times when this "can do" attitude is needed. But there are other times when we must acknowledge our weakness or challenge and ask for the help of someone with more strength than we ourselves possess.
The Apostle Paul had such an experience. Remember Paul's prayer (three times) for God to remove his "thorn in the flesh" (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). Whatever this thorn was, Paul believed it was a weakness that interfered with his call and service for God. He wanted it removed so he could do a "better job" for God! But God's response to Paul was "No." God knew Paul was better off with this thorn then without it. The "thorn in the flesh" made Paul dependent upon God. God knew that Paul was the type by nature to be out there doing God's work on his own if there was not something that would drive him to seek the strength of the Lord. God's response to Paul was, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness..." (2 Corinthians 12:9). What then was Paul's response to this reasoning? "...Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me" (2 Corinthians 12:9).
There are times when God knows we need a "thorn," a challenge, to keep us dependent upon Him. If we are wise, we will rejoice in it, that the strength of Christ might empower us and that God might be glorified. But please notice that Paul received an answer to his prayer. He did not go through life wondering why God had not heard and answered his need. The relationship Paul had with God allowed him to fellowship with God as his "Abba, Father" (a term of close endearment such as "daddy"). Paul held nothing back from God, and God held nothing back from Paul!
The context of this statement by Paul was made in light of his sufferings. His entire life served but one purpose -- to faithfully serve God and to fulfill His calling. In spite of the shipwrecks, the stonings, the beatings, the whippings, the constant threats of death, Paul stated that he could continue to serve, continue to sacrifice, and continue to pour out his life because Christ would give him the strength to do so. There is no glimpse of an "I want" in the writings of Paul. It was all about his call and his mission. He knew that he could accomplish every task God gave to him, not by his own efforts, but through the strength of Christ! For Paul it was about God, not self!
Sufficiency of Christ – Free to Serve God
Claiming the sufficiency of Christ, and realizing our sufficiency in Christ, is the absolute key to being victorious in our battles. Yes, we must be free from our attitude of self-sufficiency. We must have the might of Christ in our challenges, and in our weaknesses allow Christ to be our strength!