Have you ever wondered what the criteria are by which God chooses His servants? By what does he choose particular services and special gifts? Do we have a role to play in it or rather, does it depend solely on God and His decision? I believe that most of those who have come to believe God have asked these and similar questions sometime. I was doubtful about whether to write this article at all. The line of my thought was that I would not like to instruct anybody on how to “get the better of God” J. However, I realized that God cannot be fooled or manipulated in any way. God knows all our thoughts and all the motives of our hearts, so don’t waste time with such ideas. On the other hand, this contemplation may help somebody to recognize these principles and focus on what is substantial. As usual, we’ll seek the answers in God’s Word, the Bible.
Let’s look into the Bible and see examples of great men of God and their characters as well as God’s utterances themselves. As I don’t know the order of importance of the factors determining whether we are usable for God or not, we won’t assign them any “points”. Please take it that these factors are simply essential…
BY THE HEART
One of the main factors determining God’s choice of His servants (their usability for God) is their hearts. It is very good news, isn’t it? It isn’t the matter of appearance, education, strength or any even more elusive quality; rather, of the heart – that is, the character. The best example of the abovementioned principle that comes to my mind is king David and his calling (1 Samuel 16, 1-13).
Like the prophet Samuel, we need to be aware of this aspect of God’s view of a man. It is not enough to accept this principle just as a piece of information, rather, we have to accept it as the truth. This is the only way to relieve ourselves of bothering thoughts from the evil one who tries to stop us by feelings of inadequacy concerning our appearance, education or abilities etc. We cannot change our appearance radically, however, we are able to change our heart and character with God’s help. We cannot heal the wounds in our hearts but we can contribute to it significantly (forgiving those who inflicted them, asking God for our recovery, refusing malevolence, grudge, selfishness and all evil in our heart). Even the present state of our heart is not what is really important; rather it is the desire to put our heart right and change our attitudes and our character to please God.
I have written about it several times in other articles and I will probable return to it many times later, because our obedience and our readiness to obey is a key thing in our life with God. If we are not ready to obey what God says to us, we are virtually unusable for Him. Without obedience, we are not even able to learn to really trust God. Without the attitude of obedience, we may engage in many good and “God-pleasing” activities, however, these will be only plans of our heart or mind, rather than the will of God. God’s servants are something like God’s ambassadors. Their lives are supposed to reflect God’s character. A disobedient person can do much harm, also in respect of the aforementioned reflecting of God’s character. There is much to gain by obedience and everything to lose by disobedience. Let’s find some examples in the Scriptures to see the importance of our obedience or disobedience.
We can take the story of Saul’s disobedience as the first example - 1 Samuel 15.
The story as a whole is very enlightening. It is really serious. As you can see, it is not enough to be obedient at 50 per cent. Even eighty or ninety per cent does not suffice. Saul’s disobedience resulted in God’s taking away from him the “service” of ruling over Israel, which was previously entrusted to him. I consider it an important warning for us. We cannot afford not to obey God precisely even if we’ve already been entrusted with a service!
When Svejk was asked to take three steps forward, he started marching all over the room, saying that one step more or less, it makes no difference to him. It is not a good example for God’s servants to follow. When God says: “Take three steps forward!”, than take three steps forward! Neither one nor two, not even four or more – just three! There may be a trap waiting at the fourth step. Apart from us, God knows why he wants us to do exactly what he says. Disobedience implies unreliability. And who would want a servant who is disobedient and unreliable? And what was God’s response to Saul’s disobedience? God regretted entrusting Saul with the service …
1 Kings 11, 38: And it shall be, if thou wilt hearken unto all that I command thee, and wilt walk in my ways, and do that which is right in mine eyes, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did; that I will be with thee, and will build thee a sure house, as I built for David, and will give Israel unto thee.
This is the message God sent to Jeroboam. However, Jeroboam spoiled his way. When he became the king, his expediency led him to have two golden calves made. Then he proclaimed that these are the gods that had led Israel out of Egypt. He also appointed priests from the scum of the people, even though they were not Levites, he burned frankincense on sacred high places and so on. The end of Jeroboam was sad; and it was only because of his disobedience. When he sent his wife to seek advice with a prophet concerning the illness of their son, she was given the following reply:
1 Kings 14, 7-11: Go, tell Jeroboam, Thus saith Jehovah, the God of Israel: Forasmuch as I exalted thee from among the people, and made thee prince over my people Israel, and rent the kingdom away from the house of David, and gave it thee; and yet thou hast not been as my servant David, who kept my commandments, and who followed me with all his heart, to do that only which was right in mine eyes, but hast done evil above all that were before thee, and hast gone and made thee other gods, and molten images, to provoke me to anger, and hast cast me behind thy back: therefore, behold, I will bring evil upon the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam every man-child, him that is shut up and him that is left at large in Israel, and will utterly sweep away the house of Jeroboam, as a man sweepeth away dung, till it be all gone. Him that dieth of Jeroboam in the city shall the dogs eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the birds of the heavens eat: for Jehovah hath spoken it.
RESISTANCE TOWARDS SIN, LONGING FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS
There were people in human history who distinguished themselves from their neighbours by their longing for righteousness, i.e. an effort not to have their lives burdened with sins. The prominent representatives of this type of character might have been Jesus, Job, Noah and Daniel. And these were also great men of God, who God gave a good personal testimony about. Besides the longing for righteousness, these men stood out by their mercy. Therefore, if we wish to become God’s servants, we should think about these men and follow their example.
Psalms 45, 7: Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated wickedness: Therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee With the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
Job 27, 3-6: (For my life is yet whole in me, And the spirit of God is in my nostrils); Surely my lips shall not speak unrighteousness, Neither shall my tongue utter deceit. Far be it from me that I should justify you: Till I die I will not put away mine integrity from me. My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: My heart shall not reproach me so long as I live.
Genesis 6, 9: These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, and perfect in his generations: Noah walked with God.
Genesis 7, 1: And Jehovah said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.
Daniel 6, 4: Then the presidents and the satraps sought to find occasion against Daniel as touching the kingdom; but they could find no occasion nor fault, forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him.
Daniel 6, 22: My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, and they have not hurt me; forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.
ZEAL (IN CONTRAST TO TEPIDITY)
To be usable for God, we need to be burning. We mustn’t be tepid. If somebody is really burning, he is usable even if he is not in the know in some respects. Who is “cold” can be awakened to life. However, tepid people present the biggest problem. They cannot be easily thrown off balance, on the other hand, they are difficult to move. Jesus’ words in Revelation of John are telling:
Revelation of John 3, 15-16: I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16 So because thou art lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spew thee out of my mouth.
We could find even more examples of people who were burning with zeal for God’s issues; and God rejoiced in all of them. However, I would like to mention the apostle Paul because his example is very important for us. Paul was really zealous. He was a Pharisee (an expert on torah – the core of Old Testament), consistently sticking to traditions and God’s commandments as he understood them.
Acts 26, 4-5: My manner of life then from my youth up, which was from the beginning among mine own nation and at Jerusalem, know all the Jews; having knowledge of me from the first, if they be willing to testify, that after the straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.
Acts 26, 9-18: I verily thought with myself that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And this I also did in Jerusalem: and I both shut up many of the saints in prisons, having received authority from the chief priests, and when they were put to death I gave my vote against them. And punishing them oftentimes in all the synagogues, I strove to make them blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto foreign cities. Whereupon as I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests, at midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them that journeyed with me. And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice saying unto me in the Hebrew language, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the goad. And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. But arise, and stand upon thy feet: for to this end have I appeared unto thee, to appoint thee a minister and a witness both of the things wherein thou hast seen me, and of the things wherein I will appear unto thee; delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom I send thee, to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive remission of sins and an inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith in me.
Paul was burning with zeal to serve God. He wanted to eliminate what he considered a sect of the followers of Jesus of Nazareth. The only thing Jesus needed to do was to open Paul’s eyes. His zeal for God’s issues didn’t get lost. Jesus only showed him the right direction. From then on Paul was a real servant of God.
One of the essential factors in our usability for God is humbleness. Pride is probable the most common cause of people being unusable as God servants. From my point of view, the greatest hero, besides Jesus, is Moses as far as humbleness is concerned. In his time, Moses was the humblest man in the world. Thanks to that God could entrust him with the task to stand as the leader of several millions of ever-complaining people. Moses was so humble that he always took a stand between the people and God, praying God for mercy. Otherwise God would have eliminated the mob of Israelites several times.
Numeri 12, 3: Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men that were upon the face of the earth.
GOD DOES NOT TAKE SIDES
Acts 10, 1-6: Now there was a certain man in Caesarea, Cornelius by name, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, who gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always. He saw in a vision openly, as it were about the ninth hour of the day, an angel of God coming in unto him, and saying to him, Cornelius. And he, fastening his eyes upon him, and being affrighted, said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are gone up for a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa, and fetch one Simon, who is surnamed Peter: he lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side.
Acts 10, 34-35: And Peter opened his mouth and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is acceptable to him.
As was mentioned at the beginning, God doesn’t choose His servants by appearance, education, social position etc.; rather, by their character. He knows what is in minds and hearts of all people, he knows about their every act. As a good example we can take the abovementioned Cornelius. From the Jewish point of view, Cornelius was a heathen; however, as he was pious and very merciful, God sent an angel and the apostle Peter to explain him details of God’s plan of salvation.
SERVICE IS BEYOND OUR CHOICE
We are not to choose a particular service, it is God’s business. It is God, Jesus or Holy Spirit who call to service. We can either accept or refuse it. The type of service depends primarily on the gifts we have received from God, on our character and to a great extent on what we have lived through. Who has ever been addicted to anything, unable to get over it by himself, can after his deliverance by God (and after thorough preparation) serve to those who are chained with addiction; for only such a person can understand them and show them sympathy. It is similar with those who have suffered painful rejections or other emotional harms or who have experienced serious diseases, phobias, demonic harassment etc. and have got through it with God’s help. These people are the most usable in the field that once was so painful for them. However, it is not a matter-of-course; only God can give the instructions to do that!!!
We need to ask God where our place is. It is futile to try to find a better way of engagement…
Ephesians 2, 10: For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them.
Gifts of the Spirit are of great help in efficient service. However, these also are beyond our choice. nevertheless, we can and ought to pray for them and strive to get them.
1 Corinthians 14, 1: Follow after love; yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.
1 Corinthians 12, 4-11: Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are diversities of ministrations, and the same Lord. And there are diversities of workings, but the same God, who worketh all things in all. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit to profit withal. For to one is given through the Spirit the word of wisdom; and to another the word of knowledge, according to the same Spirit: to another faith, in the same Spirit; and to another gifts of healings, in the one Spirit; and to another workings of miracles; and to another prophecy; and to another discernings of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; and to another the interpretation of tongues: but all these worketh the one and the same Spirit, dividing to each one severally even as he will..
We have looked at major factors by which God chooses His servants. We have found that it always depends on an individual’s character and heart. We cannot choose the kind of service we would like to do, however, we can make ourselves available to God, asking Him to make us His servants. Whether to work on the healing and cleaning of our heart or not is our choice. Whether to change our way of thinking and character or not is our choice as well. You’ve already know what is important – so what will you do with it?