By: Leigh Ockey
Hermann and Pauline lived in the German town of Ulm where they ran a small enterprise that produced featherbeds.Though their success was marginal, they branched into gas boilers and began toying with electrical products. All the time they were worried about their son, Al, who seemed to have a learning disability.
He didn’t start speaking until he was nearly four, and he preferred playing by himself with his puzzles and spent hours building houses of cards. He could entertain himself endlessly with a simple compass. But in school, it took him a long time to solve problems, and teachers who expected a quick answer were disappointed at his plodding work.
One day Hermann was given the bad news. Albert was virtually hopeless. “It doesn’t matter what he does,” said the boy’s teacher bluntly, “he will never amount to anything.”
Hermann and Pauline needn’t have worried.
Young Albert Einstein did just fine.
I can’t imagine telling a child that he’ll never amount to anything. That’s a cruel phrase. It’s been used by coaches, teachers, parents, and dubious friends in many hurtful ways; but it always damages and destroys.
“You’re Not Good Enough”
Here’s another phrase that can cripple a person’s self-esteem: “You’re not good enough.” Those words were sometimes heard on the television show American Idol in the days when Simon Cowell served as a judge. He became famous for his blunt assessments of contestants, making a thumbs down sign and saying, “You’re not good enough to be a singer. Find a new job.” Who knows what happens behind the scenes in a television show, but in real life, that kind of language can cut like a knife.
As children of God, we have an enemy who constantly whispers words of insufficiency in our ears. He feeds us lies, telling us we’re insufficient to merit God’s favour, His power, His love, and His forgiveness. He knows that if he can get us feeling bad about ourselves, he’s achieved his objective of getting us focused on ourselves. When we wrap ourselves up in self-centred blankets of self-pity, it’s hard to see Jesus.
And yet . . .
And yet we are insufficient, aren’t we? Left to ourselves, we will never amount to anything, will we? We are not good enough, are we? Is it possible that Satan can defeat us by telling us the truth? No. Satan is a liar and the father of lies. Whilst he may weave a little truth into his lies, he never tells us the whole truth. The devil says, “You’re no good and you never will be any good and you will never amount to anything.” The Lord says, “Yes, in your flesh dwells no good thing. But I still love you, and My grace is enough for you, and your sufficiency is in Me.”
To put it in the language of 2 Corinthians 3:5-6: “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient.”
An Article About Nothing
Think of this as an article about nothing. The Bible says, “All nations before Him are as nothing. And they are counted by Him less than nothing and worthless…. He brings the princes to nothing; He makes the judges of the earth useless…. He will reduce to nothing all the gods of the earth…. The flesh profits nothing…. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells…. For without Me you can do nothing (Isaiah 40:17, 23; Zephaniah 2:11; John 6:63; Romans 7:18; John 15:5).
But the Bible also says that nothing is too hard for the Lord. “With God, nothing will be impossible…. According to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death…. Be anxious for nothing…. for in that He put all in subjection under Him, He left nothing that is not put under Him…. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (Luke 1:37; Philippians 1:20; Philippians 4:6; Hebrews 2:8; James 1:4).
His Grace is Sufficient
In us—that is in our flesh—“no good thing” dwells. Yet “no good thing” does He withhold from those who walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11). That’s the biblical balance. When Satan tempts us to focus on our weakness, we should instead focus on our completeness in Jesus. His grace is sufficient. If you feel like you’re nothing, well, just add Jesus. If you think you’re a zero, just add His grace; you will discover you’re someone possessing abundant life, an heir of God and joint heir of Christ, a soul of great worth in His sight. Zero plus Jesus equals everything.
Affirmed in Christ
Many times people seek affirmation from a parent, a classmate, or a friend, and if that person fails to send the right message, they often feel unworthy and unloved. While we all enjoy being recognized for who we are, instead of seeking the approval of people, we need to remember that we are affirmed in Jesus Christ. The knowledge that Jesus loves and accepts us then frees us to love others unconditionally.
In his book, Spiritual Depression, Dr D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, tells of encountering people in his ministry who respond to the Gospel by saying they’re not “good enough to be saved.”
“They are still thinking in terms of themselves,” wrote Lloyd-Jones. “Their idea still is that they have to make themselves good enough to be a Christian, good enough to be accepted with Christ. They have to do it! ‘I am not good enough.’ It sounds very modest, but it is the lie of the devil, it is a denial of faith. You think that you are being humble. But you will never be good enough; nobody has ever been good enough. The essence of the Christian salvation is to say that He is good enough and that I am in Him!”
Jesus is More Than Enough
It doesn’t take an Einstein to understand it: Jesus is more than enough. His grace is sufficient. He is all we need. Remember Paul’s words: “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient” (2 Corinthians 3:5-6).
Article supplied with thanks to ACCTV.
About the Author: Dr Jeremiah is the founder of Turning Point for God and senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California.