My foray into understanding the word “enabled” begins with 5-Hour Energy. I’ve never used this product but discovered its story and the story of its owner through a documentary, Billions in Change, that I watched while exercising one day. A product description on its website explains the product’s influence this way:
“Sometimes a little help… Is just what you need. Some days you just need a bit more to get going – or just keep up. Shopping, errands, and lunch dates with friends. It can take a major toll. So why not get the added boost you need to tackle your daily to-do list…”
You could say that 5-hour energy enables you by giving you extra energy.
Billions in Change
The product 5-hour energy made its creator, Manoj Bhargava, a billionaire four times over. Bhargava uses 99% of his fortune to help others by developing and delivering inventions to help the “unlucky half” of the world with basic needs. He focuses on the fundamentals of water, health, and electricity that set the foundation for education, health, and livelihood. He believes that enabling people improves life for themselves and their families.
“We are enablers. We invent for free electricity, free fertilizer, and clean water because when you address that which is fundamental, you enable everything above it. So we don’t do education, we enable education. We don’t do health—in terms of vaccines and cures—we enable health. We don’t give people money; we enable them to make a living. The fundamental areas of energy, water, food, and health enable not only wellness and livelihood, but they also enable lasting solutions to the world’s biggest problems.” (Billions in Change)
How Bhargava and Billions in Change use “enable” contradicts what I thought the word meant, which prompted me to better understand it.
The dictionary definition of enable is not inherently negative. It means to “provide with a means or opportunity,” “to make possible, practical, or easy,” “to cause to operate,” or “allowing someone or something to do something.”
An enabler, on the other hand, is misguided support to a person (such as someone with substance abuse issues). It’s a person who facilitates the self-destructive behavior of another.
Our culture seems to promote a negative connotation of the word enable. At least, I only thought of it as a negative term based on how I’ve heard it used. There’s a positive aspect of it, though, that’s crucial for us to understand as Christians.
Enabled by God
The context if Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians begins with him having told the Corinthians he would come visit again but changing his mind because some still had not yet responded to the call for repentance. He knew he’d have to rebuke them and didn’t want to go for that reason again. He wanted to go when he could celebrate with them.
Because of this change of mind, Paul is accused of have a fickle mindset (i.e., not stable; erratic) and of being insincere. He must now refute these claims, and this is what he does in the first part of his second letter to them. Within this explanation are the following words:
“It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us.” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)
These two verses have three crucial points we must always keep in mind to help in understanding the power of the word enable for the Christian.
1. God enables us to stand firm for Christ.
This enabling moves us from feeble, vacillating, and fluctuating to immoveable and steadfast, and it is a universal possession of all Christians. Paul is saying that he is who he is – he is enabled – because of Christ and that we and the Corinthian are who we are because of God enabling us. Not by self-will or any determination we can muster on our own but by God’s grace and mercy are we enabled to stand firm.
2. We are commissioned by God.
Being commissioned by God means we are anointed and given ability to do/be what he wants. We are put in a state of readiness for service to him, and we are authorized to do the will of God.
3. God identifies (i.e., marks) us as his own through the Holy Spirit
This mark is a guarantee of all the promises yet to be fulfilled (e.g., Christ’s second return, eternity), and those who are marked as genuine Christians are enabled to stand firm. In other words, we are under the influence of the Holy Spirit and can stand firm because we belong to God.
Paul’s struggles with the Corinthians illustrate the truth of God’s enabling in his, their, and our lives. It exemplifies what is still true for Christians today: We must live enabled because God has enabled us.
We’re unable to be steadfast without God’s enabling much like half the world is unable to rise out of poverty without being enabled by those who have more. When you don’t feel stable and secure, when you or someone else questions who you are (i.e., your identity), or when you or someone else questions what you do (as you live in God’s will), remember:
The Christian life is one of assurance and stability because it is from God, in Christ, and guaranteed by the Holy Spirit.
When you focus on these truths, you can know your purpose and stand firm in accomplishing it. You can stand firm for Christ with a fixed conviction that he is who he says he is. As a result, your attitudes, actions, and words are affected in powerful ways that are noticeable to others.
We can be what we are because of the Holy Spirit, God’s mark of an enabled Christian. Timothy acknowledged this truth with gratitude.
“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.” (1 Timothy 1:12)
God enables you to stand firm. He’s marked you as his own by the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is evidence of our security in Christ. Is this evidence clear in your life?
“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14)
How would your life be different if you fully embraced the truth that you are enabled by God?