When you read Genesis chapters 29-31 you can’t help but be struck by all of the unethical and immoral behavior of the family of Abraham. It’s almost as if Jacob and his family were allergic to good character! Laban deceived Jacob. Jacob deceived Laban. Rachel stole from Laban. Jacob fathered children by 4 different women. The entire story sounds like daytime television! The only thing missing was Dr. Phil and Judge Judy. Yet, it was from this ‘mess’ that the tribes of Israel were formed. Out of this soap opera emerged a man, Joseph, who would save a nation from starvation and who would become one of the great men of God in the Old Testament.
Isn’t it amazing what God can do? He creates great things out of less than great material. For example, look at Abraham, who lied about his relationship with his wife, but who would be the father of the Jewish Nation and would be the one through whom the promised Savior would come. Then there was Moses who, through his anger and pride, disobeyed God. Or how about David, the adulterer, who was a man after God’s heart and who wrote some of the most encouraging words ever penned by man. Then there is Peter, who very often spoke or acted before thinking, yet became a zealous leader of the church. And, of course, Paul, who persecuted the church and murdered Christians, yet still, became arguably the greatest Christian ever. It is certainly encouraging to me, when I examine my own life and stare my own shortcomings in the face, to know that God can do mighty works through me if I’ll just do my best to understand His will and follow it. I am reminded of this every Sunday when I pray that God will get me out of the way so that His Word will come forth.
I think a lot about the factors that keep Christians from being a greater force in the world today. I wonder why, for example, that we aren’t as evangelistic as we should be. Why we don’t always make the most of every opportunity? Why we don’t study as we should, or pray without ceasing, or take care of our brother’s needs before our own? Certainly the pulls of life have a lot to do with this. We just simply get too involved with the world. But, I wonder sometimes if one of the main reasons is that, deep down, we don’t feel like we are worthy to be workers for the One and Only, the great and mighty God of the universe. When we come across a chance to serve we often are constrained by our own failings and faults.
God, however, sees our potential. He looks at what we can become not at what we have been. He has forgiven and forgotten the very things that, in our own minds, prevent us from better serving Him. He is ready to help and lead us. His presence is constant and eternal. What we have to do is get over our fears and our reservations, then trust and follow Him.
We regularly ask God to guide, guard and direct our steps, yet how often do we really let Him do it. What is really holding us back from sharing the gospel message with a friend? Is it our lack of confidence in the message or our lack of confidence in our own abilities? I doubt there is anyone who will read this who doesn’t believe Paul’s words in Romans 1:16: For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (ESV)
The gospel message saves. It is God’s desire that all men be saved. We need to stop dwelling on our own imperfections, stop putting up our own stumbling blocks, and trust in Him who can do all things. He will work through us, weak vessels that we are, just as He has with countless others from the beginning of time.
This week, may we all consider Paul’s words to the church in Colossae: Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Colossians 4:5,6 NIV84). May God give us the wisdom to realize that the power is in Him and His message and may He give us the boldness to share that message with a lost and dying world.