Necessary and Sufficient

Necessary and sufficient are two words that often go together, especially in mathematics and science. When we find conditions that are both necessary and sufficient to prove a theorem or to explain a process, our quest comes to an end. We do not have to keep looking for any further proof or explanation. The same applies to real life as well.

How often do we find ourselves troubled by the events of the day? By evening, we begin to wonder whether evil has become a necessary part of human life. By nightfall, we are exhausted. But Jesus’ words are very comforting and practical, “Take therefore no thought for the morrow”, he says, “for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” (Matthew 6:34). Perhaps what we face is a necessary evil, over which we have no control. But it is also sufficient, meaning that it is not beyond our endurance and it ends with the day. So we can go to bed in peace and wake up refreshed with expectations of a brighter day.

St Paul, who used to call himself the ambassador of Christ in chains, was always a troubled person. But when he pleaded with the Lord about it, the answer that he received was, “My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:8-9) It is by grace that we have been saved. Salvation cannot be earned by our efforts. It is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:5-9) Grace is therefore necessary, for without it we have no salvation, but it is also sufficient. We do not have to keep seeking salvation elsewhere, or keep knocking at other doors to open for us.

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.” is a prayer with which St Paul liked to close his epistles and the Bible itself ends with this benediction. (Revelation 22:21) God’s grace is necessary for us because it makes us self-sufficient! (2 Corinthians 3:5)

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