Monday, February 1, 2016

How Much Is Enough?

Ephesians 2:4–10 (HCSB)
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! Together with Christ Jesus He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens, so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— not from works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.
Have you ever asked the question or been asked by someone, “How much is enough when it comes to our faith and the living out of it?”  It’s not an odd question, but sadly, there are “Christians” who ask the question because they are looking for the minimum they can do and it still count or qualify as acceptable and good?

  • How much do I have to pray?
  • How much do I have to give to the work and ministry of the church? 
  •  How often do I have to share Jesus?
  • How often do I have to come to church?

The apostle Paul addressed this in his statement to the church at Rome,
Romans 12:1–2 (AMP)
I APPEAL to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship.
2 Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].
 The Amplified Bible translates this text and gives and interesting and insightful look at what Paul and ultimately God had to say about the commitment and life of a follower of Christ.  Paul writes that a follower of Christ should live with the collective of ALL of God’s mercies in mind as we dedicate our bodies, which includes ALL of our members and faculties.  So that we may prove what is good and acceptable and perfect (what is enough) in God’s sight and do it.
While we are, on our own, incapable of perfectly fulfilling the will of God and doing what is good and acceptable in His sight, we must see that this is the standard and should be the goal of every believer.  In Ephesians 2, there is this truth: that no amount we can give, do or contribute in comparison to what God has given will be enough.  We could give all that we are and all that we have and it would still not be enough.  But because of what God has given and Jesus has done on our behalf we are seen as good, perfect and acceptable in God’s sight.  the word of the day here is imputed righteousness.
The truth is that because of Christ we are blessed, we are fortunate; we are forgiven, because any and everything we could ever, say, do or give to earn God’s favor or merit would never be enough.  As the OT prophet Isaiah wrote,
Isaiah 64:6 (HCSB)
All of us have become like something unclean, and all our righteous acts are like a polluted garment; all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities carry us away like the wind.
It is for this reason that God’s grace means so much to the Church and to a believer, because it is God’s gift of grace and not the effort of the works of men or the church that is enough.  The only work that is worthy has come through Jesus Christ and because of that, because of Him it is enough, it is sufficient (good, perfect and acceptable) and not just for the minimum but for the maximum.  Christ’s death is not sufficient only for some or for a few, but for all who will believe as Paul wrote to the church at Rome,
Romans 3:21–24 (HCSB)
21 But now, apart from the law, God’s righteousness has been revealed —attested by the Law and the Prophets 22—that is, God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ, to all who believe, since there is no distinction. 23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. 24 They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
The minimum requirement was that Jesus would give His all and God would sacrifice His one and only Son for us.  when it came to our redemption God didn't "sandbag".  He did not give some grace, some mercy, some love; He gave all and in that we have been fully forgiven and freely adopted by Him through Christ.  We have been given ALL, the maximum.
So when someone asks, "How much do I have to do or give?", the better question to ask is:
·         How much has Jesus done for you?  How much has God given for you?
Romans 8:31–32 (HCSB)
31 What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He did not even spare His own Son but offered Him up for us all; how will He not also with Him grant us everything?
Again, there is no amount we can give, no extreme to which we can effort to earn or merit God’s favor and forgiveness, but once we have received His free gift of salvation through the blood of Christ then may we not, as they say, “look a gift horse in the mouth”, but live in the light and life of His mercy and grace and honor Him in all that we do:
  • As we read the bible
  • As we pray 
  • As we give to the church
  • As we share Jesus 
  • As we come to church
So don’t live with an attitude of the minimal—what is the least amount I can do to get by and it be enough, because without Christ and His sacrifice to the maximum we have no hope, but because of Christ we have a hope, the greatest hope, all hope.  When we see the love of God and the work of Christ in the maximum we are able to see true love, the greatest love and by this love may we live to the maximum for God’s glory and man’s good, because as Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:10,
Ephesians 2:10  (HCSB)
10 For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.
Good works are what we have been created to do and the first work on the agenda is to glorify God by living in and for the maximum.  We live for Jesus because He did it well,  He did it perfectly and  He did it to the maximum all for the glory of the Father and the good of men. 
It was the 16th century reformer John Huss who said, “Beloved, knowing that the world is passing to its doom … make it your chief concern to live righteous and holy lives and renounce your sins. Next, give earnest heed to the things that are heavenly; and, finally, love God with all your heart and put your trust in Him; for He will honor you in His glory for the merits of Jesus Christ and will make you partakers of His kingdom.”

In the end, all that we have and all we can hope for is found in God’s grace and Christ’s glory on the cross.  The question to ask is not, “How much is enough”, but rather, “Who is enough” and the answer is and has always been found in Jesus.

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