God’s Sufficiency For Our Need
By D. M. Panton
Ambition is a thirst planted in the soul by God, and spiritual ambition – the only ambition open to the child of God – is the longing to achieve the highest of which we are personally capable. This ambition is justified by one of the golden texts in the Bible. It is set in a passage teaching that the more generous our giving of all we have and are, the ampler and richer will be our harvest.
“He that soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he that soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully” (2 Cor. 9:6). Wise ambition plots for a perfect harvest.
One dazzling jewel here meets our entire need. “God is able to make all grace to abound unto you.” Grace has been defined as the unmerited complement of need. It is the one foreign word in every language, for it is peculiarly the product of heaven. The ability of God here revealed is a power exceeding all possible need. “God is able to make all grace” – that is, every kind of grace without exception – “abound” – not merely meeting our need, but far exceeding it; not a Congo River that sinks into a swamp, but an Amazon that continues for a hundred miles into the ocean – “unto you” – not to other worlds, not other dispensations, nor other saints, but “you” – any soul, anywhere, under any circumstances, at any time, every child of God who reads the promise.
In a remarkable word of General Booth: “God loves with a great love the man whose heart is bursting with a passion for the impossible.” Here is the divine response, expressed in language as expressive as could be conceived.
“God is able to make all grace to abound unto you; that ye, having always, all sufficiency in all things may abound unto every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8).
It will richly reward us if we grasp thoroughly what grace is and how it works, especially when it is “abounding grace.” Grace, the complement of need, means that the need is entirely met, and abounding grace is not only a meeting of need, but a reverse of the defect: ill temper becomes sweet temper; sloth changes to activity; conceit becomes humility; the sharp tongue, a loving utterance.
Abounding grace can take the slothful believer and make him a shining example of overflowing labor. It can take a backslider and make him throb with every impulse that moves the heart of God. Fiery Moses, who killed a man, can become the meekest man on earth. The Peter who denied his Lord can own Him by being crucified head downward. The Paul with the great intellect becomes the fool for Christ.
Look at the facets of the jewel. “Having always all sufficiency.” A golden sunrise can end in a fog and storm, or even a total eclipse. How blessed is a grace that gives us always all sufficiency! Pardoning grace, keeping grace, suffering grace, rejoicing grace, grace in the business and the home, witnessing grace, if need be by even martyr grace, living grace, dying grace.
Phillips Brooks says: “Do not pray for easy lives; pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers; pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then the doing of your work will be no miracle, but you will be a miracle. Every day you will wonder at yourself, at the richness of life which has come to you by the grace of God.”
Our Reliance on God’s Ability
The next facet in our jewel is practical. Having always all sufficiency God is able to put into our hands every tool, every weapon, for the most effective life; every right thought, every apt word, every needed opportunity, every necessary penny, every essential equipment. Toil sometimes, suffering sometimes, study sometimes, recreation sometimes, sleep sometimes, but sufficiency always. God gives us what we have, not so much that we might have it, but that we might multiply it. He can amplify our resources and multiply our capacities more than we dream.
The next facet of the jewel is the wide sweep of life. “Having always all sufficiency in all things.” Our Lord put it to the test with His apostles. Immediately before Gethsemane, and when He was shortly to return to His Father, He asked them: “When I sent you forth…lacked you anything? And they said, Nothing” (Luke 22:35). “All sufficiency in everything” – in every point of contact with heaven or earth or hell. As James 1:4 puts it: “That you may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing.”
The last facet of the jewel is our final fruit. “God is able to make all grace abound unto you: that you, having always all sufficiency in everything, may abound unto every good work.” God’s grace pours in only that it may pour out. If there is any good work anywhere in the world, that is a reason why I should be in sympathy with it. The Christian’s horizon is to be boundless and his cooperation with good infinite.
The “alls” of our passage are like a peal of bells, in succession of lovely chimes, quieting fear and routing doubt, and launching us on the ocean of God’s power. It will reinforce it on our hearts if we read Dean Stanley’s paraphrase: “God is able to make an overflowing not of one only, but of every kind of gift, so that, not in one matter only but in every matter – and not at one time only, but at every time – you may have for yourselves, not one kind only, but every kind of sufficiency; and that you may in your turn overflow, not in one kind only, but in every kind of good work.” In other words, God’s grace is the “1” which, when put before our zeros, makes us millionaires.
The Connection Between God’s Resources and My Need
“God is able;” the verse says no more. How is God’s ability to become our experience? Where does His infinite resource find its connection with my infinite need? Solely by personal contact.
As Mr. Spurgeon has put it: “Behold, before you is the sacred casket of truth. But where is the key? It hangs upon the silver nail of prayer. Go and reach it down, unlock the casket and be rich.”
In the Marian persecutions, as one martyr came in sight of the stake he cried: “Oh, I cannot! I cannot!” Those who watched supposed he was about to recant, but they saw him suddenly drop on his knees in an agony of prayer. Then, rising, he shouted in triumph, “I can! I can!”