It’s not just common folk God uses in big ways …
A common message we hear from Bible teachers is that God uses the least likely, most common among us to do some of the greatest things.
There’s a lot of truth to that. Some of the greatest figures of faith in scripture were very ordinary people.
But some weren’t.
So let’s take a look at the larger picture.
That bigger picture is that God also uses the very talented and gifted among us as well as the most ordinary. To see proof of this, we need look no further than the biggest figures (other than Christ) in both the Old and New testaments: Moses and the Apostle Paul.
After being plucked from floating in a basket in the Nile River, Moses grew up in the house of Pharoah as a prince of Egypt. He had the finest of educations, as well as the finest of things in life. Moses knew prominence and prosperity, he was anything but ordinary or average. Few people who ever lived held such a position of prominence as Moses had when he lived as the son of Pharoah’s daughter. But it wasn’t his experience as a prince in Egypt that Moses turned to in leading Israel to the Promised Land, it was the wisdom, power, and mercy of God he relied on.
Likewise, the Apostle Paul, was a respected religious leader before his spectacular conversion on the road to Damascus. Indeed, Paul (then known as Saul) had studied under renowned teacher Gamaliel, gaining what would be an extensive seminary education in our day. Paul describes some of his background in Philippians 3:4-6 as follows:
I could have confidence in my own effort if anyone could. Indeed, if
others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even
more! 5 I
was circumcised when I was eight days old. I am a pure-blooded citizen
of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin — a real Hebrew if there
ever was one! I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest
obedience to the Jewish law. 6 I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault.”
For some reason, we seem to almost want to hide the fact that these two giants of the faith were already highly accomplished men before God called them to the greater purpose He had for them. There’s no reason to be skittish about their grand pedigrees, especially because of this key fact: it wasn’t their existing skills, talents, and successes that was the source for the great things they accomplished for God — it was God Himself, enabling and working through them!
It doesn’t matter if you are educated or not, skilled or not, talented or not — what God will accomplish through us for His glory and His kingdom will always be because of God Himself working in us.
Paul echoed this truth when he wrote, “28 So
we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone
with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God,
perfect in their relationship to Christ. 29 That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me,” Colossians 1:28-29.
It’s interesting how we are loud about God using the most common among us, but we often see elder boards or other church boards stacked with men of worldly prominence, not necessarily selected for their spiritual maturity but often because of their business successes.
Being “useful” to God has nothing to do with your resume, but everything to do with who He is to you. God can use the least, or the greatest, among us for His purpose and glory if we are yielded to Him working through us. The least skilled, least gifted, and least experienced can do great things if God wills and enables it; and the greatest among us can accomplish for God nothing more than what God supernaturally enables us to do.
So how does God select leaders from among us?
“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart’,” 1 Samuel 16:7.
foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s
weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength. 26 Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. 27 Instead,
God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those
who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame
those who are powerful. 28 God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. 29 As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God,” 1 Corinthians 1:25-29.
No resume is so small a person cannot be used greatly by God. And no resume is so great that God is not necessary to do spiritual work. Kingdom work requires the calling and enabling of the King; with it, anything is possible, without it our efforts will be futile.