“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; as it is written, “He scattered abroad, he gave to the poor, His righteousness endures forever.”
God is able. What do those words mean to you and me? Able to do what? When? How? Where?
For some, the notion of God being “able” rings hollow. After all, when was the last time we actually saw or experienced God’s work in our lives? For others, God is simply another in a long string of those who have disappointed them throughout their lives. Those who overpromised and either under delivered or never delivered at all. Those who fill us with hope only to break our hearts and shatter our souls.
It’s natural in a world so filled with secular noise to place God – an invisible, remote, impassive God – in the same category as His human creations. Is He really in control of everything? Is He concerned with us? Can He, in Paul’s words, cause “all things to work together for good?” Is He even there?
The passage I began with is one of only two instances in all of the New Testament where we find the words “God is able” (the other is in Romans 11:23). In the Old Testament, we see it once in Daniel 3:17. Yet to the reader with eyes to see and ears to hear, “God is able” has eternal meaning, the omnipotent power to do what only He can.
Consider for a moment a few of the limitless things only God has power to do.
- God is able to save and protect us – forever. Peter wrote that God can protect us through our faith “for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” When we place our faith and trust in God, His power to save and protect us extends through eternity. We see this echoed in Hebrews 7:25, which tells us God saves “forever those who draw near” Him. Compare that to our own feeble attempts to demonstrate our power over the trials of life.
- God is able to supply our needs – for everything. This is the essence of Paul’s meaning in the 2 Corinthians passage. How often have we truly placed our trust in God to “give us this day our daily bread?” This covenant is endless, unbreakable, yet so many times we reach a crucial life moment, a key decision, a seemingly insurmountable problem and instead of placing our trust in God, we place that trust in ourselves. This is especially true in our tithing. How many of us actually offer God the first 10% of our increase (time, treasure, thoughts, devotion)? “Test Me on this now,” God tells us in Malachi 3:10. Are you willing to test Him?
- God is able to cure us. Jesus built a large portion of his earthly ministry on the power of our faith and trust in God’s healing ability. “Do you believe I am able to do this?” he asks two blind men in Matthew 9:28. He poses this same question to each of us – do we believe he has the power to heal us? God may not always provide immediate physical healing, but He always heals the needs of our souls. Our belief is the tool He uses for our road to restoration. Do you place your faith in God or in yourself?
- God is able to rescue us from death. In Daniel 3 we read the account of three Jews serving as administrators in Babylon during the captivity thrown into a fiery furnace by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, after refusing to bow down to the king’s image. “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire” they say in Daniel 3:17. God delivers us from the finality of death when we proclaim His sovereignty over our lives. Do you pray to God only in times of need or have you confessed Him as Lord of your life?
- God is able to deliver us from sin. The Epistle of Jude teaches that we should “have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire” while giving glory to “Him who is able to keep you from stumbling.” God works through us to reach our brothers and sisters, giving physical evidence to His ability to keep us from straying and stumbling into the traps of sin. Do you mirror God in how you treat others?
His Greatest Gift
Of course, there are things God simply can’t do. Not because He is limited in any way, but because it is impossible given His nature. For example, God is unable to lie. He is unable to love. He is unable to break covenant. He is unable to deny Himself. God is unable to not exist.
The everlasting and eternal Truth is that God cannot do anything contrary to His Word. He cannot refrain from sharing His abundant Grace and Love to all who heed His call.
No better example of this exists than the Grace God bestowed on mankind through the gift of His son Jesus. Rather than spare His son from the pain and suffering of human transgressions, He willed Jesus to take on the pain and weight of those sins for everyone ever born or who will ever be born.
There is no rational reason for this kind of grace. God owes nothing to mankind. No humans are better or worse than others – we have all fallen short and all suffer from the burden of sin. Jesus himself said “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” There is none righteous in the sight of God. No one deserving of His Grace.
When we bring God fully into our lives, the doors of His abundance are flung wide. Sometimes this abundance takes a material or physical form. At other times, God’s abundance shows up in our relationships and peace of mind. In all cases, that abundance is real and available to all who are called to His purpose and will.
How can we experience that abundance, opening the gates around our hearts and letting God’s grace fill us? No two walks with God are identical, and your journey has likely been different from mine. However, here are three actions all of us can take to invite the power of God to become change we so desperately need.
- Yield to God’s Will. This doesn’t mean simply paying lip service to God, as Jesus chastised in Matthew 15:8. Rather, it means giving our hearts fully and wholly to His will, offering our undivided allegiance to His sovereignty. When we place only part of our trust in God’s will, reserving the remainder for ourselves, God reserves the blessing of His abundance.
- Wait for His response. We’re all impatient, wanting results and blessings right now. And there are times when the abundance we seek takes the form of a miracle we need immediately to cure a disease, save a marriage, prevent a financial disaster. Yet as we read in Isaiah 40:31 “Those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength.” God wants us to prayerfully and patiently look to Him, not ourselves. Only when we focus our eyes on God, rather than our own solutions, will be open and ready to receive His power.
- Keep our faith. Scripture repeatedly tells us that God’s power is unleashed in our lives through the strength of our Faith. If we do not expect God to work in our lives, He will not. There is the familiar story of Jesus in Mark 6 returning to his hometown, teaching in the synagogue to friends and family. Mark reports his listeners “took offense” at him, questioning from where he got his wisdom and ability to do miracles. Because of their disbelief, God did no great works or miracles. Jesus “wondered” at their unbelief. A few chapters later in Mark 9 Jesus encounters a man in a crowd who asks if Jesus can do anything to help his afflicted son. Jesus’ response is key: “‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” God brings His power into our lives when we believe.
God can deliver His abundance to each of us. There is no imperfection in His power, only the imperfection in our faith. As the late Pastor Richard Strauss once wrote: “Believe that He can do what needs to be done in your life. Expect Him to answer, then watch for Him to do it. He may work in totally unexpected ways, but He will work with supernatural power. At this very moment He is looking for people through whom He can demonstrate that power. Why not let it be you?”