How Do You Define Enough?
Letting God define our needs
I’m using the next several blogs to propose a most audacious, even outrageous idea. Here it is…we have enough. Last week we looked at Psalm 23:1 and contemplated what it means that God is our shepherd, and as such He defines our need and fully supplies it.
Today I want us to look at Psalm 16:
Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
2 I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”
3 As for the holy ones in the land, they are the noble,
in whom is all my delight.
4 Those who choose another god multiply their sorrows
their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
or take their names upon my lips.
5 The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
I have a goodly heritage.
7 I bless the LORD who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
8 I keep the LORD always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices;
my body also rests secure.
10 For you do not give me up to Sheol,
or let your faithful one see the Pit.
11 You show me the path of life.
In your presence there is fullness of joy;
in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Last week we asked the question, “who determines what you need?” Our daily life is fixated on meeting needs. Think about the things you did yesterday. How many were focused on:
- Making money to meet your financial obligations, buy what you need to be happy and put away enough to feel secure?
- Buying and preparing food and drink, exercising and resting to meet your physical needs?
- Achieving work and career goals to meet your needs for satisfaction and self-esteem?
- Building and strengthening relationships to meet your needs for love, belonging and affirmation?
- Spending leisure time to recover from all of the work of the day?
All of these can be laudable activities in pursuit of important needs we all share. But who sets the limits of each of these? In each area, is there a clear demarcation in your mind when you have done enough, worked enough, made enough and played enough? If we can’t answer these questions, we’re at the mercy of a culture that will gladly answer them for us. Their responses go like this:
- “You can never make enough money or have enough things to really feel secure. You must always be striving to make more, spend more and keep more for yourself.”
- “You are never fit or healthy enough. You’re either too fat, too thin, too out of shape, not muscular enough, not eating right, ingesting too many toxins, missing vitamins in your diet, taking the wrong medicines or not taking the right ones… and on and on.”
- “You must never be satisfied with what you accomplish, but always be driven to do more, achieve more and succeed in greater ways regardless the cost.”
- “You can never have enough affirmation because your reputation can be lost in a moment and friends can be fickle.”
- “You can never enjoy too much leisure time. You’ve earned it, and nothing should stop you from enjoying as much of it as you can.”
Hidden in these answers lies the insidious insinuation that perhaps, just perhaps there is no – and need not be any – limitation to these needs. The result is a scarcity-driven discontentment with whatever place we may be at any moment. Wherever we are, there is a far better place we could be. In other words, whatever we have at any moment in time, it is never enough!
Our social structures and our economy are built and thrive on perpetuating this scarcity-driven discontent. As a result, each of these unbounded areas of need become idols that demand our undivided loyalty. Without limitations on our definition of our needs, we will worship at the feet of the idols of
- A love of money and a desire for it to provide us the security and happiness we want
- Physical fixation, driven by a deeper fear of illness, aging and death
- Career advancement at the cost of almost everything else in our life
- Self-image preservation that feeds our pride, and
- Personal pleasure in the pursuit of experiences that will always disappoint
Our worship of these idols will consume us if we choose the path of scarcity-driven discontentment.
In Psalm 16:5, David offers us a different view. He claims:
The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.
I love Matthew Henry’s commentary on this verse.
This is the language of a devout and pious soul. Most take the world for their chief good, and place their happiness in the enjoyments of it; but how poor soever my condition is in this world, let me have the love and favour of God, and be accepted of him; let me have a title by promise to life and happiness in the future state; and I have enough.
If God is our portion, we always have enough. Enough of what? David goes on in verse 6:
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
I have a godly heritage.
Matthew Henry again,
Heaven is an inheritance; we must take that for our home, our rest, our everlasting good, and look upon this world to be no more ours, than the country through which is our road to our Father’s house. Those that have God for their portion, have a goodly heritage. Return unto thy rest, O my soul, and look no further.
Having God define our need means we accept with joy the boundaries set up for us. Because God sets these boundaries, they will always “fall in pleasant places.” What would it mean for you today for God to define enough? I believe for all of us it would mean rejecting the scarcity-driven discontented life and stepping into a life of abundance-based, holy contentment.
You may ask, “Does ‘holy contentment’ and ‘having enough’ mean we embrace mediocrity, be satisfied with the status quo, and reject growth and advancement?” No, just the opposite. When God defines for us what is enough, all of our needs are satisfied IN HIM. Then we are freed to engage more fully in life than we ever could in our scarcity-driven, owner mindset. When we surrender our idols to Him, pronouncing in our hearts that “It’s All His!”, satisfaction and deep peace will form the foundations of a dynamic, impactful life lived for something greater than ourselves.
We’ll give Matthew Henry the final word,
Gracious persons, though they still covet more of God, never covet more than God; but, being satisfied of his loving-kindness, are abundantly satisfied with it: they envy not any their carnal mirth and delights.