Being a Christian means following in Christ’s footsteps. We get it – actions speak louder than words. Our purpose and mission in this world is to use our God-given talents to serve the Kingdom of God, bring others closer to Christ, and love and serve others ourselves.
We cannot pretend to follow Our Lord unless we are determined to follow His example of serving and loving God and others. However, we need to take a step back to that ‘actions speak louder than words’ thing. While it is certainly true that actions do usually speak much louder than words, let me suggest a word which speaks volumes against following Christ and should therefore be avoided at all costs. That word is enough.
I vividly remember seeing some television program as a kid and hearing a character gasp “Enough is enough and enough is too much!” I thought the expression was funny, but today I am not sure why. The word “enough” can mean different things to different people. For some, enough means one has a sufficient amount and no more is needed, such as “I have enough water, thank you.” But sometimes enough means one already has too much of a bad thing, such as “We have enough confusion already!”
In the first context, enough sounds like a message of practical moderation and sufficiency. It implies that one has enough sense to know when one should be content with what one has. It is assumed, therefore, that one who feels that he or she has enough food stored will not continue to hoard more. Likewise, if I know that I already have enough mashed potatoes on my plate, I will not hog half of what is supposed to be available for everyone.
In the second context, however, enough rings as a call of exasperation in the light of some bad thing, such as “Haven’t we had enough violence in schools already?”
But while the word enough can have many useful and provocative applications in grammar and expression, it is not the best of words for any follower of Christ.
While the word enough can indicate ‘an awareness of sufficiency,’ a Christian should always be looking for ways to find and share blessings, resources, time, and effort. With so much need in the world for these things, one can rightfully wonder if one can ever have enough food, water, medicine, and clothing, for example.
Logically assuming that any Christian should be looking to share once he or she has enough for himself, and that any close follower of Christ will go even further and sacrifice to give to others, how can a Christian ever really exclaim in satisfaction that he or she has enough? One might ask “enough for what?” If the answer is I have enough for myself, then I am not following Christ who calls on us to think not of ourselves, but, rather, of the needs of others. Unless I have found the way to end all hunger, illness, poverty, and suffering then, I will never have enough from which to help others as Christ taught us to do.
We cannot multiply our resources as Our Lord did, but God will surely help us to multiply our reach as long as we continue to do our best to serve others with what we have. On this first level I suggest that we can never have enough good things because having more good things allows us to share and spread that good to others! But if all we care about is having enough for ourselves, are we not already straying from the path that Christ set for us? The Parable of the Rich Fool (LK 12:16-21) warns us of the danger of such thinking.
Turning Service and Love into a Chore
Suppose that your spouse presents you with a small gift for your birthday and utters “This should be enough to satisfy you!” Or suppose that a young man begins to read a love poem, or sing a song for his beloved, and part way through the effort stops and declares “That should be enough to hold her!” In both cases, the word enough implies that one has completed a task, a duty, or a job.
But can there ever be enough love from a mother, enough concern for one in need, or enough compassion for someone who suffers. Did Christ keep an eye out for when He had done enough for the day and simply check out afterward? At what point, then, should Christ have decided that He had done enough suffering due to our sinfulness? What exactly is enough prayer or redemptive suffering?
Truly Christian love and service are not measuring cups. They are best served with no markers for quantity or comparison. Most Christians are familiar with the gospel story of The Good Samaritan. One might rightfully ask then, when, if ever, did the Samaritan decide that he had done enough for the stricken man? The answer, of course, is that following Christ is inconsistent with never feeling that you have done enough good!
What About The Dark Side?
So the word enough can darken good things by making them seem self-absorbed or insincere. But what of the use of the word enough in connection with bad things such as sin – hatred, envy, jealousy, greed, and every other vice we can think of? At first glance, some might argue that enough declares a certain intolerance for more of such bad things and is, therefore, a noble sentiment. One can certainly champion the notion that we have all had it with all the sin and corruption in the world and will not tolerate any more!
However, use of the word enough in these cases merely implies an intolerance for the dark subject involved without suggesting how one might reduce or eliminate that bad thing. Saying ‘I have had enough of your impatience’ does little to help me deal with that impatience.
In addition to being somewhat useless and pointless, the use of the word enough with regards to negative things implies a certain tolerance to those things in the first place. When I declare that ‘I have had enough of your arrogance,’ I am implying that whatever arrogance you have shown up to this point has not been enough to warrant my declaration until this point. I am also not suggesting a way to deal with that arrogance (my earlier point).
Suppose a child breaks half of your dinner plates and you declare “I have had enough of your damage to my plates!” Are you not implying that the child had to break half of your plates before you were moved to complain? Why did you not complain when he had broken one-fourth of the plates?
In this context, a serious Christian should never accept or tolerate a given amount of sin, evil, or a litany of other things which harm people and society. A serious Christian should strive to reduce his or her own sinful behavior and not merely prevent sin from going beyond what is deemed enough sin! In this context, the word enough as applied to sin is inconsistent with a sincerely Christian life. It is inconsistent because it implies a toleration of sin up to this point and is content to keep it below whatever is a low enough level!
Enough is Both Too Little and Too Much
The implication of the word enough, in the context of a Christian life, is a lose/lose situation. A true follower of Christ should never find that he or she has loved or served neither God nor anyone else enough. There is always more love and service to give if one is truly following Christ!
Likewise, a true follower of Christ should never tolerate sin, evil, injustice, or any other bad thing enough to reach any limit for those things. It is always a good, and better path to continually strive to reduce or eliminate whatever distances us from God. We should always strive to drop far below whatever enough vice one faces. At the end of the day, when it comes to following Christ, enough really is not enough and too much.