Perhaps you have seen Charlie Mackesy’s popular book, “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse”, with its simple drawings of animals and people conversing about the big issues of life. Snippets of the world’s wisdom written and illustrated in a beautiful way, giving solace and sense to many in this difficult world.
The boy’s best discovery seems to have been his realisation that he is enough as he is. This kind of conclusion may bring some clarity to those struggling with low self-esteem in a world where social media shrouds the truth and encourages despairing self-criticism in the face of “everyone” else’s picture-perfect life. It might also, perhaps, relieve some soul tortured by perfectionism from within or unrealistic parental or societal expectations from without, but I wonder if this “best discovery” doesn’t miss the mark in a major way.
You can imagine the boy in the piece coming to a point in his life where, under the burden of meeting everyone else’s expectations, he decides that he is opting out, cashing in his chips, and that he is fine just the way he is. An empoweringly positive affirmation of being comfortable in his own skin no matter what anyone thinks. But what if he is not enough? What if he is unpleasant or unhealthy, inconsistent or inconsiderate, angry or argumentative? Is he really enough just because he says so? Is anyone enough as they are? I know that I am not.
What we are really looking for is an objective standard against which we can really measure whether we are enough. A timeless yardstick against which we can test our “enoughness”. Thankfully God hasn’t left us at the mercy of the opinions of society, trial by social media, our parents or even ourselves: he has provided an objective assessment known as the moral law. Encapsulated in ten commandments, God’s standard is laid out. Fairly, equitably and transparently available for all.
In the Bible, God says: “Honour your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:12). Cast your mind back to your teenage years. Can you say that you have never once disrespected your parents?
God continues: “You shall not murder” (verse 13). But Jesus Christ, the Son of God, ups the ante by saying that “whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment” (Matthew 5:22). Have you ever been angry without justification?
Again, Jesus gets to the heart of the age-old problem of adultery (condemned by God in Exodus 20:14), stating that “whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Surely no one reading this piece stands innocent in the face of these charges.
A final example from God’s moral law commands us not to steal. Not a penny, not a pencil, and not even a moment of an employer’s time. Let that sink in. What do you call someone who steals? A thief! By my own confession I have failed to measure up to God’s standard, and how many sins does it take to show that someone is a sinner? Just one. The Bible’s assessment of all of us is not that we are enough as we are but rather that “all have sinned” and that we all ”fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23 NLT). “There is no one righteous, not even one” (verse 10 NIV).
All of humanity stands condemned by our own conscience and by the standard of God. We are not enough.
But that is not where this article ends – leaving the poor boy with the sense that his epiphany was a false hope, condemning him to perpetual despair. Thankfully, there is one who was and is enough.
There was one man who lived a holy life, meeting God’s standards in every way. His name was Jesus Christ. He came to earth, experienced what it was to be a man and, at 33 years of age, was executed by Rome on a cruel cross. Jesus Christ was tested and not found wanting. He was enough and His death on the cross for the sin of the world was enough; in it He defeated sin and reversed the curse of death. At the end of three hours of punishment at the hands of a holy God, He shouted, “It is finished”.
Three days later Christ came back to life, proof that, as a sinless man, death had no claim upon Him. After all, the Bible does state that “the soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4). The resurrection was also proof that He had done all that is necessary to allow a holy God to forgive unholy sinners like you and me; effectively, God said, “It is enough”. All you need to do is confess your sin, believe that Jesus Christ died for you and rose again, and you will be saved.
Only when you realise that you are not enough can you appreciate that He is.