The tyranny of enough

Editor’s note: The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Inside The Pew staff.

By Paul Hughes
Special to Inside The Pew

I think more was devised by the Devil, with America as his down line. Props to Satan: distribution has been dynamic and deep. Mephistopheles is nothing if not efficient.

More money?  You’re a go-getter, bootstrapping, entrepreneurial whiz-bang wunderkind; you’re going places man.  Also, we’re having a party and you’re invited.

More abs?  You’re sexy and desirable and doable. Evolutionally speaking you’re the kind accumulation of cells all the other stars-upon-thars Sneetches want to mate with.  Also, you’re cool.

More votes?  You win.  Also you’re right.

Mephistopheles is nothing if not persistent.

Of course it goes back to Eden.  Everything does and we all try.  Adam and Eve wanted more …  and they got it, too.  Mephistopheles is nothing if not consistent.

The Slanderer is always happy to sign us up — and those who know me know I bear in my body the evidence of one man’s inordinate desire for more. My friends, such things should not be.

Because the Bible is as the kids say all about contentment.  So much so that godliness doesn’t get to stand on its own: godliness with contentment is great gain.

Be ye satisfied with yo’ stuff.

Psalm 23 … ”I won’t lack nothin’.”

Matthew 6 … “Don’t look for this stuff.”

1 Timothy 6 … “If we get something, maybe even this stuff, we’re OK.”

And yet … not so — be not so swift to agree.  Search the scriptures and see if these things are so.  Too often as Christian speaks, be he pastor-writer or web logging apologist writer, he draws false dichotomies to prove this point of his.

Bad writer.  Bad, bad writer.

For God is an Othering God, and even immense wealth can’t threaten He who rides herd over mountain ranges.

Psalm 23 … “My flagons are full and flooding onto the floor.”

John 12 … “They had enough money for the embezzler, too.”

Philippians 4 … “I can handle all, and I can handle nothing.”

The idea, rather, is awareness of abundance: what the Bible calls peace.  The idea welcomes, nay seeks, God’s action in our life: what the Bible calls grace.

Or both.

[Seventeen epistolary greetings — 17! — call for this in Christian’s life.]

It is knowing, as the pastors say, not that God will keep saints from dying, but that even if we die He will keep us.

It is not about enough at all — and that is the problem. We’re jazzed to have more than enough, proud to have less than enough, and worry if we have enough.






Nearing the end of life, C.S.  Lewis said if the Lord let him keep writing, blessed be He.  If not …

Blessed be He.


Paul Hughes writes in Southern California. He edited Think and Live: Challenging Believers to Think and Thinkers to Believe and wrote Tebow: Throwing Stones. This post first appeared at, revised for publication in Burning and Bleeding: Efforts on Faith and Culture. Follow @PoetAndPriest on Twitter. Thank you for reading.

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