When my kids were little, one of their favorite books was titled, On My Own. It was about a little monkey who always tried to pull away from his mom and do things on his own. He didn’t think he needed any help, but in the process, made a mess of things within the jungle world. In the end, he always ended up falling asleep in the arms of his mother. He had no idea how many times his mother and others intervened on behalf of his safety and well-being in a given day.
Like a child wanting to be in control of themselves, we also think we need to prove to the world how self-sufficient and “enough” we are. But, I believe that a greater testimony is one of humble dependence on and faith-filled trust in God. Falling into the safety of the Father’s arms illustrates our dependence and trust in Him. We may never know until Heaven how what we thought was our “enough” was God intervening, protecting, and providing for our every need.
A Cultural Trend
As I watched a singing competition show the other night, a young woman said that she had discovered through being on the show that “she was enough”. I assume that she meant that it gave her confidence in her abilities despite being rejected before.
I see slogans and articles and social media posts regularly using the phrase “you are enough” from Christians. I am always curious as to their intended meaning. I am sure many are trying to encourage others to view themselves as valuable, treasured beings while others are sending a confusing message.
Discerning the Truth
Something in my spirit always bristles as people pronounce their “enoughness”. As a Christian, I think it is good and right to stop and consider if this is true, what the Bible says about it, and ask how it leads us to love and serve Christ better.
Short answer: After searching the Bible (KJV translation) for the word enough, which appears 32 times in Scripture, there is not one instance where it is used to describe mankind in this intended way. This phrase is a cultural one and not a biblical phrase.
Even though the phrase is not used in Scripture, is the concept behind the words in line with God’s character and therefore, what should shape ours?
Short answer: It depends.
It depends on the intent behind the words. When we say we are enough, what exactly do we mean? People may be using it in different contexts and with varying motivations.
I think many people in our culture are using it in an ungodly way to say they don’t need God or anyone else. How they are is how they are. People just need to accept that. I think for a Christian, some of this thinking is deeply flawed.
As in any study, the first place to start is with a definition. What does the word “enough” mean in our culture today? We will look in a current dictionary since the term is not used in this context within Scripture.
According to Merriam Webster the adverb form of enough is: in or to a degree or quantity that satisfies or that is sufficient or necessary for satisfaction. To go further, to satisfy means to fulfill the desires, expectations, needs, or demands of; make content.
Are we enough to satisfy the desires, expectations, or needs of ourselves and others? I would say the Bible says no. Are we enough to bring contentment? No.
For me, the sentence, “You are enough” needs a noun to fully understand how it is being used. What are we enough of? What are we sufficient for? To what degree do we satisfy?
If you read the Bible, you will know that God loved you so much that He planned a way of rescue from the foundations of the earth (Ephesians 1:3-4). He knew us. He knew our sin would wreck us. And still He created us and made a way to reconcile us back to right relationship through Christ. He made us in his image (Genesis 1:27). We are valuable to God (I Peter 2:4-5, Luke 12:7). He loves us with an everlasting love (John 3:16, John 13:34, Jeremiah 31:3). We are his workmanship (Ephesians 2:10).
We are all these things in Christ: conquerors, priests, holy people, and masterpieces. There is no room for doubt of our worth to God. But we are all of these things not because of any merit on our part. It is all because of Christ. Even after we receive Christ, we have to choose to love and serve Him daily. We have to deny our flesh and seek Him. We are not enough on our own.
A Better Phrase
In Christ, we are EQUIPPED to do the good works He has assigned to us. In Christ, we are satisfied. In Christ, we are able to be competent and confident in who we are and what He has called us to do (2 Timothy 3:16-17, Hebrews 13:21, 2 Cor. 10:3-5). We can be a workman that needs not be ashamed. But as 2 Timothy 3:16 points out, we have to actually study Scripture to obtain this. We are not enough without Scripture. We are not enough on our own without the Holy Spirit’s guidance. We are made enough to God by the precious blood of Christ washing away our sins. That alone allows us to come boldly before the throne with full acceptance of who we were created to be.
In Christ, I am Equipped and Content
I believe with Christ, I am enough in God’s eyes. Because of His grace and mercy, we are able to fulfill the good works He has planned for us and to live righteously in order to glorify God (Eph. 2:8). My sufficiency in all things is from God (2 Cor. 3:5; 2 Cor. 12:9). Apart from the vine, I can do nothing (John 15:5). And with Christ, I am equipped to become what God desires of me.
When I am Not Enough
When my flesh controls me, I am not enough. When the world attacks, I am not enough. Without the armor of God and the power of His resurrection, I am not enough to stand against the enemy. Through yielding to the Spirit, searching the Bible, and putting on the armor of God, He equips and upholds me.
As a mom, I am not enough. But I believe God equips me to grow in love toward my children. We run out of patience and are not enough on our own. We have to be seeking God’s guidance to parent from a place of maturity.
As a wife, I am not enough. I will never fully satisfy my husband and will never be completed by him either. We learn daily to surrender and sacrifice our ways for the good of the other and work together as one. It’s a life-long journey.
As a friend, neighbor, and citizen, there are times when I will not be enough. We just can’t be enough to some people, and that is ok. We all fail and let people down. Thank goodness for forgiveness and mercy from God!
In my work, I will never fully arrive. I will hopefully keep growing in character, knowledge, and skills and will never be fully satisfied with my work this side of Heaven. I am content in my work done to my best in Christ, but I will always have room for improvement. We can be content and at peace with God yet driven to know and grow.
The Bible is clear that we are not enough to rescue ourselves from the penalty for our sin. There is none righteous. No not one (Romans 3:10). Only Christ is sufficient for salvation. There is no other name.
I think part of the problem many have with accepting these truths comes from thinking that this sounds depressing – that we can never be satisfied with ourselves. I think it is a subtle mind shift to view ourselves rightly before God. There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ. We are loved despite anything we do or don’t do. But true peace and joy come from satisfaction that only He can provide.
Enough: What we are in God’s Eyes
Made in his image and likeness. Uniquely created.
Valuable enough for God to make a plan to restore us from the foundations of the earth.
Loved enough for Christ to go to the cross on our behalf.
Seen, known, and forever loved by the Creator of the world.
Covered by the blood of Christ – righteous and blameless before the Father.
This post is not meant for condemnation or controversy. It is a study of a topic that is permeating much of the Christian culture these days. It is wise to consider how we show up for these conversations as God’s people. God alone knows the thoughts and intents of our hearts.
From my overview of Scripture, I believe that we would be better served by saying “In Christ, we are equipped”. In Christ we are satisfied. He is our daily bread and living water. Our ability to be content in who we were created to be while still making every effort to grow into a clearer reflection of who He is, comes through the power of Christ in us. Let us seek to make that known to a world trying so hard to be the best “them” in their own strength. Our rhetoric can make a difference in someone seeing their need for Jesus.
Remember the monkey that wanted to do it on his own? He always ended up crashing in his mother’s arms. Rest in the spiritual blessings you have inherited as His children and move forward in His strength to become a workman that is fully satisfied in our Savior.
What would you add from a biblical/spiritual perspective to this conversation? Do you believe we are enough for God and yet totally dependent on Him? Where do you struggle with this idea?