10 Great Reasons to Live with Enough: A Book Excerpt
What does Agur pray for? In a word, enough. In a phrase, "just enough to satisfy my needs." And that begs the first million-dollar question, doesn't it? What do I need?
"What do I need?" If you can figure that one out, you can skip the rest of the book and move on to much lighter subjects. I need food. I need air. I need water. But I also need clothes. I need a place to live. I need income. I need transportation. So what do I really need? And when does need move over into the much more exciting world of want? I need food, but I want pizza. I need water, but I want it to be from the Rockies, or at least from an Arkansas spring. I need clothes, but I want Levi's jeans and Ariat boots. On and on it goes. That's why we have such a difficult time defining enough. In the increasingly gray area between wants and needs, finding enough can prove to be very elusive.
Enter Jesus. The man we worship as King of Kings and Lord of Lords never struggled with the concept of enough. The God who left heaven to live as a slave, the King of the universe who had no earthly place to lay his head, the Creator of all things who died with absolutely nothing, never once struggled to figure out what enough meant. And he didn't hesitate to make the meaning clear to his disciples.
When the disciples asked him to teach them to pray, Jesus gave them the brief yet profound model of the Lord's Prayer. In it, he included a line about seeking God's provision. I'm sure you can quote it: "Give us this day our daily bread" (Matt. 6:11). In one sweeping statement, Jesus presented his followers with a clear picture of what he considered to be enough. Jesus' daily bread reference no doubt harkens back to the account of Israel's wanderings in the wilderness, where God gave them daily provision of manna and quail for forty years.
In Jesus' mind, that's all God promises. He promises to give us what we need today. He doesn't promise to provide for tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year. He doesn't promise to provide in advance for our retirement. All he offers is today. According to God, today is all you need. And you know what's really interesting? If we lived on what Jesus says is enough, if we lived with just enough to meet our immediate needs, most of us would think we were poor. But we wouldn't be. We'd simply have enough.
Under the obvious direction of the Holy Spirit, the apostle Paul also chimed in on the discussion of enough. In his first letter to his young disciple Timothy, Paul offered a series of teachings to those who were wealthy. At the end of his teaching, Paul shared his own understanding of enough. He wrote, "If we have food and clothing, we will be content with that" (1 Tim. 6:8).
Really? Food and clothing? That's not a lot to live on. Where's the big screen TV? Where are my electronic gadgets? Where's my retirement plan? Paul wasn't saying that these things are bad, just that they aren't necessary. Paul added a new word to our working definition of enough—contentment. By doing so, he lowered the bar dramatically on what the Bible says we need—food and covering. Basically, if we have food in our stomachs, clothes on our backs, and a roof over our heads, we're good.
Can you see the obvious tension that exists between how so many of us live and what the Bible says is really necessary? Do you see the great distance between how our culture defines enough and how Agur, Jesus, and Paul defined it? What do we do with that? Are we sinning because we have savings accounts? Am I out of God's will because I live in more than a one-bedroom house? And what if you don't feel content with just food and clothing? What if you think you need more? What do you do then?