What God Means by ‘My Grace is Sufficient for You’
Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
Are we enough? In short, no. We cannot fully rely on ourselves; rather, we need to fully rely on God. Christians can often forget that the verse where this originates (2 Corinthians 12:9) comes from a place of weakness and frailty.
God’s grace fills the holes that other things we try to rely on cannot.
What is biblical grace?
Part of the reason Christians can misquote, “My grace is sufficient for you,” is we often don’t have a grasp of God’s grace.
Biblical grace means blessing or favor from God in terms of our sinful nature. God chooses to offer salvation to us, despite our rebellious nature and disobedience to him. It’s him withholding his wrath and offering a path to heaven if we follow him (John 3:16).
Grace saves us when we cannot (Ephesians 2:8-9). The verse, written by Paul, makes it clear that in our weakness God’s grace alone saves us.
Where else does the Bible talk about grace and sufficiency?
Some other verses in the Bible that point to grace and sufficiency are:
2 Corinthians 9:8 – God makes his grace abound to us so we will be equipped for every good work. God’s grace gives us the tools we need to preach the Gospel and speak about the hope we have in Christ.
2 Corinthians 3:5 – Our adequacy comes from God.
John 15:1-7 – We cannot survive without the vine. A branch apart from a vine will bear no fruit. Because of our weakness, we can only boast in Christ because we know any good work comes from Him working through us.
These verses show us we need to rely on God. Only when we cling to the vine can we see God’s grace abound.
What is the context of 2 Corinthians 12 where we learn about sufficient grace?
Paul, here, is preaching to the Corinthian people. Like many believers today, the Corinthians had a problem with self-reliance and boasting. To go the extra mile and make a point, Paul is telling the Corinthians he has nothing to boast about except his weakness, because his weakness makes him realize how much he needs to rely on God.
He speaks about a thorn in his side that he’s asked God to remove, but God won’t take away the thing that makes him realize his weakness.
Some theologians have speculated as to the nature of this thorn. A few have suggested Paul had a lisp of some sort that made it difficult to preach, or possibly epilepsy. Others have pointed to the great persecution he experienced.
Either way, because Paul had a number of revelations and visions, that could cause some Christians to be jealous of these epiphanies, his thorn in his side brings him back to earth.
Paul tries to help the Corinthians to do the same, to realize that only God’s grace is sufficient for us, and we should boast in nothing else but God’s grace.
What is this verse trying to teach Christians today about grace?
Similar to the Corinthians, we can sometimes get a little puffed up. If we have a certain spiritual gift or a gift in a ministry, say we are strong prayer warriors for instance, we might run the risk of getting prideful about that gift.
We could forget from whom that gift came (James 1:17).
Often, we can receive a thorn in our side to remind us of our weakness and the need to rely on God’s grace.
Maybe you have a gift for music and sing on your church’s worship team, but the thorn in your side is you lose your voice or can’t sing for a few weeks.
This verse teaches us to rely on God’s grace. Although he may bring us amazing experiences, such as the visions Paul received, we can’t forget God during the good moments. We have to rely on him at all times.
We can sometimes misinterpret this verse to say God’s grace will pull us out of the hard time into greener pastures, but we run the risk of preaching false doctrine when we say that. God will not always remove the thorn in our side, but his grace will be all we need, thorn or no thorn.
Consider saying this prayer below if you feel as though you need to rely on God more or if you’re dealing with a thorn in your side, like Paul.
Dear Heavenly Father, I come to you now and acknowledge my weakness. You are the vine, I am a branch, and apart from you, I can do nothing. Please remind me to cling to you and to remember that your grace is all I need. In the good times and bad, I need you. Thank you for your overwhelming grace. Amen.
Fully rely on God’s grace.
If you find yourself relying on yourself, remind yourself of Paul. Even though many Christians talk about his accomplishments and how he shaped the faith and the history of the church, he always points back at God. One of the most famous Christians of all time boasted in his weakness, because he knew he couldn’t take a step without God’s help.
In your own life, try to find areas where you may be relying on something else apart from God. Even when God gives us a spiritual gift, we can end up worshipping it instead of Him. Find those areas and ask God to help you remove those idols and turn to His grace alone.
Hope Bolinger is a literary agent at C.Y.L.E. and a graduate of Taylor University’s professional writing program. More than 400 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer’s Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her column “Hope’s Hacks,” tips and tricks to avoid writer’s block, reaches 6,000+ readers weekly and is featured monthly on Cyle Young’s blog. Her modern-day Daniel, “Blaze,” (Illuminate YA) released in June, and they contracted the sequel “Den” for July 2020. Find out more about her here.