Charles Stanley - The Good Side Of Inadequacy
When you feel inadequate about something, what do you do? You want to give up and quit, walk away? Because life's full of moments when we feel inadequate at the moment, or when we take the long look we think, "I could never do that. I could never go that far. I would never have the strength, the energy, the knowledge, the understanding. Other folks could do it, but I couldn't do it.
You see, I didn't grow up in that kind of a place. I didn't have a father or a mother; or it's just that my life is such that, you know, you couldn't count on me for doing anything outstanding. And I've always felt inadequate all of my life and so don't expect too much out of me". Is that one of the attitudes you have when you're faced with a challenge? Or do you on the other hand say, "I can handle it. Don't worry about it. I can handle it". Pride, arrogance, self-dependence, and all the rest, either one of those extremes do not fit who you are as a child of God. You're going to feel inadequate sometimes about something. That's natural and normal.
Sometimes it's so short, it's a matter of moments or seconds; and then you say, "Oh, I see". And everything changes. So where does inadequacy fit into your life? No one would like to feel inadequate. We'd like to say, "Well, I'm going to always feel adequate about everything because Jesus Christ is my Savior and my Lord, my Master; therefore, that settles the whole issue". But it doesn't. The Apostle Paul didn't feel that-a-way even after he was a Christian. He didn't always feel adequate. In fact, in our text in Second Corinthians, and he talks about being adequate and inadequate in his epistles. But how does it affect you?
Well, so here's what I want us to do. We know what inadequacy's about and the fact that I don't feel quite up to it, it's not quite enough. I don't measure up, whatever. But is there a good side to that? Can there be anything good about feeling inadequate? Well, you'd read most books and all the books that are about how to succeed and how to be self-confident and all the rest. So is there anything good about being inadequate? And the answer is yes, there is.
So I want you to turn, if you will, to Second Corinthians chapter three. And in these verses, the Apostle Paul is sort of defending himself to the Corinthian church. And he's saying to them, "Look, we're not sending you any messages to confirm who we are. In fact, the fact that you're saved is evidence of who we are because it's our testimony, our witness and our preaching of the gospel that got you that way". So he begins in verse one, "Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some," some others, that is, "Letters of commendation to you or from you? You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts".
He says, "The fact that you are saved and living a godly life, that's all the commendation we need. It's not about us; it's about what God is doing in your life". Then he says, now, "Such confidence we have through Christ," not in ourselves, "through Christ toward God". Watch this, "Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God".
Did he ever feel inadequate? I'm sure he did. Did he feel adequate? Yes, he did, but he understood what adequacy was all about. So I want us to look at, to see what's the good side of feeling inadequate? And when you begin to see this from the good side, all of a sudden, those moments that sometimes maybe frighten you that you feel inadequate, you won't feel that-a-way at all. And the first point is simply this: that when we respond correctly, inadequacy drives us to God. Now, when you feel inadequate, it should do what? And we'll come to this whole issue. It should in turn, turn you to God to depend upon Him because you do feel inadequate, and therefore you turn to Him. So, what happens? It builds your relationship to Him. It builds your intimacy with Him. It builds your faith in Him. You begin to see things from a different perspective. Though you feel inadequate, when you begin to look at that inadequacy in the light of who God is, and that He is living within you, all of a sudden, those inadequate feelings disappear. And it's not because you improve suddenly or you learn something suddenly. It's because of your relationship.
Now, watch this. The most important thing in your whole life, yesterday, today, the last moment of your life, is your personal intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. That's number one. So when you feel inadequate, check your relationship. It may be fine. And it just may be that that's a satanic temptation, "Well who do you think you are? Why do you think you can do this? Why do you think you deserve this"? And when we come to those inadequate times in our life, the right response is it drives me to God. "Lord, I admit that I don't think I can do this very well. I'm looking to You. I need Your help. I need Your guidance". And what that does, it strengthens your relationship to Him.
Now, if you take the other route and say, "Well I can't do it. You know, I'm just one of those unlucky unfortunate people. I don't feel gifted. I don't feel talented. I don't feel this, that, and the other". You're taking the negative route that leads to disappointment and despair, instead of saying, "Yes, I do feel inadequate, but God, You said You would be my adequacy. You would meet my need. I'm trusting You in this no matter what". So it's a choice we make. It's a choice we make. When I feel inadequate, I can either remain inadequate and go down, or I can turn my attention to the God who said He would make us adequate for every single thing. You say, "Well now, but you don't understand my circumstance".
I do understand this. Your circumstance is one thing and the principles of God are something else. The principles of God do not change according to our circumstances. The principles of God, the laws of God are the laws of God. And they don't alter and they don't change. They're not manipulated by our feelings. So, the good side of feeling inadequate is it drives me to God. Watch this, whatever drives you to God is good. We're all going to come to those times of inadequacy. We have to decide when they come, how are we going to respond? It'll drive us closer to Him, strengthen us, enable us, give us understanding about our relationship to Him that we've never known before.
Listen, inadequacy can be one of the best blessings in your life if you respond properly; which is, "I'm going to trust Him no matter what". A second thing that's interesting when you begin to look at this, and that is inadequacy relieves me of the burden of trying to do the will of God in my own strength. And this is where the lot of people do. They feel like they know what God wants them to do in life and so they take off in their own strength, in their own energy, in their own limited knowledge. And so, the more God wants to do in your life, the more important it is that you and I rely upon Him day after day in every circumstance of life no matter what.
Now, the Apostle Paul, for example, on the Damascus Road, was knocked down. He was absolutely, totally, had no response at all except fear. Because he'd been persecuting the church, putting people in jail and killing Christians, followers of Jesus. Now he's totally out of it. And God begins to speak to him and he's saved. And there comes a day he writes the Philippian church and he says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me". Where do you think he learned that? He learned that when he was blind, on his back, had absolutely helpless. Sometimes God has to give us experiences in order for Him to create the atmosphere in which you and I feel inadequate so we will learn who our adequacy is.
And now here he is in prison, writing and saying, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me". "Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. You're in prison". "Doesn't make any difference". "You've been here and you've been there and you've been shipwrecked, all these things, and here you're saying, 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.' Why"? Because he recognized the absolutely awesome important lesson here: that in those times when we feel so inadequate, He is there to enable us to do whatever He wants us to do. Is it not compatible with the whole idea? Would God ever call you to do something He's not going to help you do? No. Whatever God requires of you, watch this, you have the promise of the presence and the power of God to help you do it. That's the reason he could say that. He learned that. But he was in prison when he wrote it.
And so, when I think about the very opposite of that is pride. And when you look at the verses, God hates pride. You can look in the gospels about pride, and Psalms and Proverbs about pride. God hates pride. Here's what pride says. "God, I can handle it. I don't need You". And there's a world of people living that way. You think you can handle life. You could, you don't need God. You don't need the church. You don't need Jesus. You don't need any of that religion. You can handle life. I want to tell you, you are headed toward the greatest disappointment in your life. You cannot, apart from God, know what it means to have the assurance that when you die you're going to heaven. Without Christ, you'll never have that assurance. You don't have the assurance of difficult times and hard times. You can't have enough money. You can't have enough this, that, and the other.
There are times when you are absolutely, totally inadequate. And if you don't have Him, you don't have anything. You say, "Well, I'll manage". That's the height of pride. You'll manage, listen, you may be able to handle some things for a short period of time, but you're coming down. Pride comes before the fall. Our feelings of inadequacy will come and go. And all of us will see those situations sometimes in a relationship with somebody or something you're required to do, but the question is how do you respond. And, when I think about the fact that it relieves me of the burden of trying to do the will of God in my own strength, I don't even have to. We have the promise that we don't have to.
So if you're refusing to obey God because you don't have the strength and so forth, remember, He's already promised that. Well, there's a third thing I want you to notice and that's this. Watch this, this is one of the best sides of inadequacy. And that is: because I feel inadequate, I am forced to depend upon the Spirit of God to help me. When you trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, the Holy Spirit came into your life and sealed you as a child of God, according to Ephesians. He says He, watch this, He sealed you as a child of God until the day of your redemption; until the day you die. He came to indwell you for what reason. To enable you to become the person He wants you to be; to do the things that He wants you to do. And He says you're sealed to the day of redemption.
You say, "Well, suppose I sin"? Your sin does not break the seal. It doesn't break the seal. Nowhere in the Bible does it even hint that it breaks the seal. Watch this, you didn't seal yourself. Watch this, listen, you didn't get sealed because you're good when you were living in sin and confessed it and repented of it. And when you made the turn to receive Christ as your Savior, He sealed you as one of His children. Therefore, from that moment on, whatever God requires of you and whatever opportunity He gives you, remember this. He's not expecting you to do it by yourself. You're indwelt by the Holy Spirit. And His work is to enable you, listen, to enable you to face anything and everything you face.
You may sense inadequacy, but what happens? The good thing about that is this. You can immediately say, "Thank You that You've given me the Holy Spirit to enable me". He will enable you to do anything and everything that is His will for your life, no matter what He requires of you. Listen to this. He already sees your life. He knows what you can do and what you physically can't do. Listen, God has made you adequate by the presence of the Holy Spirit. Doesn't mean that you'll never feel inadequate, but you are adequate to do the will of God. You're adequate to be obedient to God. You're adequate for whatever God has predetermined and predestined for your life. You're adequate for it because He's made provision for it.
A fourth thing is this: it frees God to use us to the maximum of our potential. For example, if I feel inadequate saying, "Lord, I don't know what You have in mind, but here I am. I may not have the best to offer but, God, here I am. I'm going to trust You". And I think there are multitudes of people who will live out their whole life, and they're going to come, many of them, many of them are going to come to where I may be. I've been a Christian for seventy years and you know what? I couldn't be more excited. I've got seventy years to look back and say, "Yes"! God made a promise, He kept them, time after time after time. He will do the same thing for anybody and everybody. It's just a matter of trusting Him.
Somebody says, "Well, what's the maximum of my potential"? I don't know that. I can tell you what will absolutely undercut it: pride. There are people who are brilliant and totally committed to God. There are people who are brilliant and full of pride. God uses one, He doesn't use the other. And oftentimes, people who are very self-sufficient cause a lot of other people a lot of heartache and trouble in life. There's something sort of healthy about this underlying feeling, watch this, let's put it this way. It's almost like a holy inadequacy. I love that, holy inadequacy. Always aware that God could do anything He wants to do, anytime He wants to do it, anyway He wants to do it. And that I must never get to the place in life, where I go above that sense of holy inadequacy.
That's the way the Spirit of God works. He wants to keep us dependent upon Him, listen, watch this because He knows that you and I will only reach our full potential by living with a sense of holy inadequacy, trusting Him to be our adequacy for every single thing in life. And I would mention one last thing, and that's this. Inadequacy enables us to live in contentment and quietness. Because if I sense inadequacy and a sense that Jesus is my adequacy, I don't have to struggle. And you know this by heart, but the forty-sixth Psalm, and the tenth verse is a simple verse, but it's awesome. And let me start in the first verse.
He says, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble". Then he moves on down to sixth, tenth verse and I love this. He says, "Cease striving and know that I am God". You know what? When you put your trust in Him, we don't have to strive. The striving, I mean, is conflict. It's questions, doubts, fears. And I think about how many people wake up every Monday morning full of conflict and they're striving. They're striving about the traffic and striving about the job and striving about the people they work with and striving about the future and striving about their children, striving about their husband and relationship, all these things going on in their mind. So they're driving down the highway eighty miles an hour; all this is going on in their mind. They have to stay in their lane and then they've got to get to work and there's more striving going on. Who's going to outdo who? That's not the kind of life God wants us to live. He wants us to have contentment and joy no matter what.
Now, I'm not saying that you get up on any given morning and the traffic's way back yonder and you should say, "Well, thank You, Jesus, I just couldn't wait for this". Because I know that's not realistic. But I know this is realistic. "Lord, You know how I feel about this traffic; and I just need You to give me Your sense of contentment, help, and, Lord, if You want to speak to me for the next forty-five minutes, because I'm going to be sitting here that long, I'm available to listen, whatever You want to say to me". Because, listen, if you cut off the radio, shut the phone down, and autos these days are pretty quiet, you should be able to listen to God sitting in that traffic. If you decide, "I'm not going to be striving and stressed out of all this. I'm going to see if God has something to say to me". And more than likely, He will. In fact, I can't imagine anybody saying to God, "Lord, I'm available for You to speak to me, if there's something I need to hear".
I can't imagine God saying, "Well, I don't have anything to say today". I don't think He would ever say that. You know why? Because He loves you. He wants the best for you. And He doesn't want us striving and struggling. And so, I can accept that there are moments of inadequacy, but if I turn that moment of inadequacy over to Him, what happens? He becomes our adequacy. He makes you sufficient, adequate. He can bring calmness and quietness and peace in the most difficult situation there is. Why? That's who He is. "My peace I give unto you; not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled and don't be afraid about anything".
Is all inadequacy bad? No, it's not. And if I'd-a just had one point to the message, that would have been sufficient. Whatever drives me to God is good. Whatever brings me to the end of myself to rely upon Him, it's good. So, it's a choice we make. When you feel inadequate, in that moment, you make a choice. You make a choice to give in to your feelings of inadequacy or you say, "Thank You, Father. I don't know what to do at this point, but You do. I'm going to trust You to make me adequate in this situation, in this circumstance in whatever way it takes to bring You honor and glory, to please you. I'm going to trust You".
I think about people who live like this all the time. This is life to them. That's not life. That's just an oncoming death. The truth is your heavenly Father, think about this for a moment. And I'll just tell you what happened to me this week. I was praying and it was a certain time, I don't always pray this certain time every day, but most of the time at this point, and I was praying, and for some reason this just hit me in a different way. Because my father died when I was nine months of age, so I never had a father. And I was reading in the Scripture, and reading that prayer, "Our Father, who art in heaven; hallowed be Thy name". All of a sudden, it dawned on me, "God, my son calls me Dad. My daughter calls me Dad. I've never called anybody Dad. I've never called anybody Father except God". And all of a sudden, I had this little sinking feeling. I thought, "Lord..." Then He reminded me of something. I thought, "When I read that passage, can I honestly say, 'My Father who art in heaven, who is in heaven?'"
And for the first time in my life, something happened to me when it came to fatherhood. I never thought about it that-a-way. It would ring in my ears once in a while when my son would say, "Dad". Or Becky would say, "Dad". And I never had anybody to call that. And while I was still praying, God just showed me something awesome. "I'm your Father and I've been there all along. All along I've been there". And if you've trusted Him as your Savior, He's your Father. He's your Dad. He doesn't want you living apart from Him, being full of anger and strife and all the rest.
So I pray that today, if you've never trusted Christ as your Savior, that you will acknowledge that you're a sinner and you've sinned against God by living your life apart from Him; ignoring the cross, the shed blood of Jesus. Asking God to forgive you for that and to cleanse you from that, and surrender your life to the Lord Jesus Christ; that He may live His life in and through you and accomplish His purpose for you. That surrendered life means that we put everything in His hands, and the result is that we can have peace and confidence and assurance no matter what we're going through. There's a sense of quietness. There's a stability. There's a security, just like a child finds security in being able to say, "He's my dad". When you and I are able to say to God, "He's my Father". For me personally, it was a lesson I learned, and I trust you'll be able to call Him your Father.
Father, how grateful we are that You love us. I pray that Your Holy Spirit will take whatever parts of this message are necessary and apply them to each one of us accordingly. And let us walk out of here acknowledging that we are inadequate in a number of things. But when the time comes for whatever You require of us, we will be adequate because You are our Heavenly Father. And I pray this in Jesus' wonderful name, amen.