When You Don't Measure Up

 By Kara Ranck

PC: Unsplash

The shutdown in March provided the opportunity to tackle an extensive home renovation in our 1889 farmhouse. From March through June, you could find me removing wallpaper that my husband’s great-grandmother hung, scraping chipped paint off ceilings and spindles, spackling, sanding, scraping again, sanding again, and priming. By July, I was ready to paint. It’s mid-September, and we are finally done—with that project, that is. As I look around my home, I can make a long list of jobs that still remain. That’s the nature of home ownership, especially owning an old house. There is always something to improve and maintain. An update to satisfy the standard of living we desire. The list never ends; the paint keeps chipping.

Our lives are a lot like our homes. We keep improving, trying to update ourselves to maintain or satisfy who we desire to be. I have spent most of my almost 34 years attempting to measure up on my own strength. Even as a professing Christ follower since high school, I still tried to do life independently much of the time. In the recent years, I became acutely aware that I am falling short. I am not enough. I don’t meet the standard that I and the world have set for me.

As I compare myself to God and those around me, in both spheres I come up wanting. God through his word in scripture tells me I come up short when I am measured against his perfect standard. I am truly guilty of not meeting what he requires. When I compare myself to others or my own self-imposed expectations, I have a false sense of guilt for not meeting the transient standards of the world around me.

Friends, you and I are not enough. We all feel this to some degree at some point. This feeling increases as our need increases. It's easy to believe we are adequate when life is going smoothly. We may be sensing this in new ways as a global pandemic and political dissonance are affecting our lives. Many have lost jobs, changed routines, experienced relationship discord, and lost valued social interactions—just to name a few. The platitude “you are enough” feels like a Band-Aid on a gaping wound. Knowing we aren’t enough can feel like failure, guilt (true or false), regret, or just plain truth—but it is actually good news. The bad news is believing we can be enough on our own.

This isn't a new human problem. It all started many, many years ago. In the beginning was God (Genesis 1:1, John 1:1-5). He was enough—sufficient, adequate, ample, abundant, a full measure (Revelation 22:13). When God created the world and Adam and Eve, God walked with them. They needed him. They were in fellowship with him. They were complete in his presence (Genesis 1 & 2). They were not enough on their own, even before the fall.

Then came the enemy in the form of a serpent. He started by telling Eve the truth—she wasn’t enough on her own. But then comes the lie—she could be like God and have his knowledge by eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17). If she eats the fruit, she will be enough, he implies. And she believes him and disobeys God (Genesis 3).

The thing is, we believe this same lie every day. We all do; no one is immune. Our culture tells us conflicting messages. We can be enough if we do more or rest more, work more or play more, manage our time better or be more flexible, take better care of our bodies or love ourselves as we are, buy more expensive things or embrace minimalism, make ourselves over or embrace our mess. So we try these methods and come to find out we are still not enough.

We were never designed to be enough. Whether we receive that truth through conviction from God’s Word and the Holy Spirit (true guilt) or even a deceitful message from the enemy (false guilt), the feeling—the knowledge—that we are not enough should point us to the only one who is—Jesus. When we try to find fulfillment in anyone or anything apart from Christ, we are setting that person or thing up as a god. That, my friends, is making an idol.

Certainly, we are valuable souls made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-27), made with a purpose (Ephesians 2:10) and a plan (Psalm 139:13,15-16), made to worship (Psalm 100:2-3), made to work (Genesis 1:28-30), and more—but we were not made to be enough.

The good news of the gospel is that because we are his valuable creations, God loves us even though we don't measure up, so he sent us his very own Son—who is enough—to meet our need daily and eternally.

God didn’t leave us at the bottom of his measuring stick. Instead, he broke the stick in two, made a cross, and sacrificed his Son to give us the full measure of himself. Jesus fulfills the standard on our behalf. Jesus is the standard. The only one who is enough is Jesus Christ, God incarnate.

We can spend our limited days fruitlessly trying to achieve the unachievable, or we can rest and be at peace in who he is and who we are not. We can have joy and hope, because through his death and resurrection, he destroyed the guilt and shame of not being enough. And as believers, we can trust that when we stand before God, he will call us enough because he sees Christ in us.

Certainly, we can do more or rest more, work more or play more, manage our time better or be more flexible, take better care of our bodies or love ourselves as we are, buy more expensive things or embrace minimalism, make ourselves over or embrace our mess. But his Word tells us we should do everything as onto him—not for ourselves and not to feel like we’re enough (1 Corinthians 10:31). It tells us our bodies are his temple, his dwelling place (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Everything we possess belongs to God; we are caretakers of that which he’s entrusted to us (Psalms 24:1). Even our time is not our own (Psalms 139:16).

So as we work, play, rest, spend our money, care for our bodies, our homes, and our people—it should all be done out of gratitude and reverence for God and the salvation he’s provided us in Christ. In Christ, we have the full measure of him who is enough.

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