But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:9
The Christian life is not one of strength, but one of weakness. We are not called to live in a way that is seeking glory, but the the cross. To be broken and poured out, not to be exalted and lifted up. “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.” (Mark 8:35).
If we want to follow Jesus, then we will follow him to the cross. For in God’s economy, glory comes only through the cross. Jesus’ promise was never that he bore the cross in order that we might receive glory without suffering. No, the promise is that there is hope and future glorification for those who endure by faith.
Martin Luther talked a lot about being a “Theologian of the Cross” rather than a “Theology of Glory.” The article linked to above is helpful in fleshing that out in ways I don’t feel the need to repeat here.
If God’s grace is sufficient, then…
- When I have nothing left to give, God will make my pitiful offering a valuable treasure.
- I don’t need to “have it all together” in order to be used by God.
- I don’t need to hide in shame over my sin and failures, because they have been redeemed and used by God to demonstrate his strength.
- I have peace, because I can trust that God is the one who bears fruit, not me.
- I am humbled… because God chose me despite my brokenness (not because I was worthy).
In life and in ministry there are times when we simply run out of strength to offer. It is in those seasons when being a Theologian of the Cross is of particular encouragement. My usefulness in ministry (preaching, teaching, counseling, mentoring, etc.) doesn’t come from my strength, but from God’s grace. And my faithfulness in leading my family (loving my wife and kids in a way that reflects God’s perfect love and leading my family in Scripture and prayer) are also an overflow of whether or not I am drawing from the well of grace, if I’m running on reserves, or if I’m totally dry.
I’m thankful for God’s grace. Without it I’d be useless… I’d remain the self-centered, impatient, snarky guy who thinks he’s got all the answers. When I remember God’s grace, the Holy Spirit pulls me out of myself and reminds me of the patience and mercy I’ve received – and He empowers me to give what I have received.
What difference does the sufficiency of grace (not just the “idea” of grace, but the reality that you have received it by God) make in your life?