God chooses people for some specific tasks for His kingdom and then that person is equipped in certain ways to fulfill the assigned role. Abram was renamed Abraham to strengthen his faith and David, though yet a teenager, was anointed to be king and both heeded the call and used their hidden talents to glorify God in their lives. Every person has certain God given talents and he/she may not even be aware of that but God places them in situations where the same are successfully used. But there are certain basic characteristics inherent in all specifically useful to perform great tasks for God.
The essential traits of the chosen ones – A potter was distributing earthen lamps free to anyone who took it. On being asked the reason, it was very simple for he wanted people to light up their darkness with his lamps. Some people asked for two or more also and they reasoned that they would like to carry the light to someone else’s house also. Caring for others is always necessary in a man for being useful to others and God. Lord Jesus told His disciples, ‘You did not choose Me, but I chose you’ (John 15:16) and Apostle Paul narrows it further that ‘He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world’ (Ephesians 1:4). Moses sought God to show him His glory and the answer he received from God was, ‘I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion’ (Exodus 33:18-19).
If it all depends on God then how can I be blamed for living a life away from God? God chooses someone not for what he/she is but that person can do for His kingdom. Many times the person may not be aware of his/her latent capabilities that only God knows and can use for He gives to all according to His will. God gave free will to man by planting the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the garden of Eden and man made the wrong choice despite the warning. God has revealed Himself firstly through His creation (Psalm 19:1); second, through His Word, the Scriptures; third through His Son (John 17:26) for Lord Jesus declared to us God, the Father and finally the indwelling Holy Spirit continues to reveal God to us. God chose Abraham after seeing the zeal in him to know God and decided to have a nation state through him to take knowledge of God to all other peoples in the world. God chose Moses to lead the Israelites from bondage to freedom to transform the lives of all of mankind (Exodus 3:10). Moses was chosen by God though he was ‘not eloquent’ and was afflicted, being ‘slow of speech and slow of tongue’ (Exodus 4:10).
Apostle Paul brings in God’s choosing His people ‘in Him before the foundation of the world’ (Ephesians 1:4) for as ‘All-knowing God’ He was well aware of their usefulness for His kingdom before anything came into being. To further confirm this he quotes God’s word to Moses, when Moses sought Him to reveal His glory, ‘I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion’ (Romans 9:15).
But then is God unjust in rejecting others, while choosing some? For this, two things must be considered, one is fairness which means to give all the same things equally, irrespective of their own state. God is not fair for otherwise everyone will have and use the given equal opportunity to know His Son and be saved. But justice is to give what one deserves and all of mankind being in sin deserves to go to hell but it is God’s choice to show mercy to whoever He wants. No one has any claim on His mercy and that is where the election choice of some rests. We cannot impose our own standard of justice on God’s actions for He is the ultimate standard for everything.
There are certain visible traits in all of God’s chosen people– first, availability, if someone does not want himself to work for God given task, that person will be useless. Second, obedience, the command to Abraham was ‘Get out of your country, from your family, and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you’ (Genesis 12:1& 4). This was a journey without any predefined destination but Abraham ‘departed as the LORD had spoken to him’. How many will be willing to obey in such a manner and that is what resulted in ‘all the families of the earth’ being blessed in him through his descendent, the Messiah. Third, faith, anyone chosen by God must have faith that the path defined by God is the right one and though there may be initial hurdles eventually it will turn out to be good. Four, God is love and anyone filled with hatred, jealousy or anger is unlikely to be chosen by God. ‘A dispute arose among them (the disciples) as to which of them would be greatest’ but after ascension and glorification of the Lord, they moved out of Jerusalem to reach out to all communities while leaving James, the brother of Lord Jesus to be head of the Jerusalem church (Luke 9:46). Five, desire to know God for ‘no one has seen God at any time’ and only the Son of God reveals Him to us (John 1:18). The chosen one must nurture a deep desire in him to know God. Six, desire to learn was one of the dominant traits of all disciples and they were with the Lord always and sought clarifications on matters difficult to understand. Seven, surrender, Lord Jesus wants His followers to ‘deny himself, and take up his cross’ (Matthew 16:24). This denial is of all perceived rights and claims and one bearing his cross was destined to suffer and die.
The LORD God told Prophet Jeremiah, ‘I, the LORD, search the heart (seat of desires), I test the mind (Source of all thoughts), even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings’ (Jeremiah 17:10). King David realized God’s Sovereign authority and said, ‘Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book, they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them’ (Psalm 139:16- 17). He also praised God for His kind thoughts towards him though He knew all about his weaknesses before-hand. The reality is that none of us is worthy of all that God has done for us for on our own we could never have known God and be redeemed. It is God’s Sovereign power to show mercy and compassion to anyone that He chooses to do so and no created being can question the Creator.
Did God make a mistake in choosing Judas Iscariot as a disciple? God does not make mistakes and there is a purpose in all that He does. Lord Jesus told the disciples beforehand, ‘there are some of you who do not believe. For Jesus knew from the beginning who did not believe, and who would betray Him’ (John 6:64). Lord Jesus in His prayer to God the Father said, ‘I have manifested Your name to the men You have given Me out of this world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me’ (John 17:6). God was, is and will always be fully in control of every situation and He cannot be surprised by our actions. God’s plan was clear from the very beginning, that ‘The Son of God (as seed of the woman) shall crush your (Satan’s) head and you will bruise His heel’ (Genesis 3:15). The prophecy was about the sufferings that the Messiah was to undergo for ‘paying in full’ for all that was to be heaped onto mankind for their sins. Since this was a plan conceived before ‘anything was’ the Holy Trinity was fully involved in this. Since the resultant salvation for mankind would set in motion the initial plan of restoration of the heavenly kingdom on the earth, first in the hearts of His followers and thereafter physically, ‘it pleased the LORD to bruise Him (the Messiah); He has put Him to grief’.
The choosing of Judas Iscariot was exactly as per God’s plan and the reasons for that could be – first, to fulfill Scripture. Quoting the prophecy ‘He who ate My bread has lifted his heel against Me’ (Psalm 41:9), Lord Jesus told the disciples ‘I know whom I have chosen, but that the Scripture may be fulfilled’ (John 13:18). All along while the Lord moved towards the cross, He was ensuring fulfillment of every word in the Scripture concerning Him that needed to be fulfilled. Second, God is in control and even horrible sins serve His purpose. Being betrayed by a friend and by a kiss also was as per God’s plan ‘to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done’ (Acts 4:28). When evil thinks it is prevailing, it turns out that it is exactly as God had decreed. Third, miracle working or professing is no guarantee of possessing God’s Word, for Judas Iscariot also received and used the Lord’s authority over demonic forces (Matthew 10:1). He had walked with Him for three years yet he never really knew the Son of God to be saved. Four, Predestination does not absolve one of personal responsibility. Judas realized his sin to say to the chief priests and elders, ‘I have sinned by betraying innocent blood’ (Matthew 27:4). We have free will to follow the Lord or the devil and though God desires that all must be saved, we must be ready to face the consequences of our choice. Five, love of money and worldly treasures corrupts completely. When Mary anointed Lord Jesus with ‘very costly oil of spikenard’, Judas Iscariot condemned this as wastage of money which could have been used for the poor (John 12:1-6). However, the Scripture reveals his true reason for objection, ‘this he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he weas a thief, and had the money bag’.
Lord Jesus, being aware beforehand about Judas’ greedy nature, provided him a chance to mend his ways by entrusting the ministry finances to him. But since he chose to follow his evil desires, when his soul condemned him, he ‘went and hanged himself’. God desires the best for everyone but we are never compelled by Him to follow His commands. Adam, like Judas Iscariot chose to follow his own desires and suffered. Salvation is a free gift to all of humanity but not all choose to follow the Savior.
Our responsibility while waiting – Joseph had a dream about his destiny but was sold as a slave by his brothers, landed up in Egypt as a slave, charged with a false accusation of attempting to molest his owner’s wife and imprisoned with no hope of ever coming out alive (Genesis 40:6-7). Even under such dark circumstances, when he met the Pharaoh ‘s officers, who were also imprisoned, he asked them ‘Why do you look so sad today?’ While waiting for the call to undertake the mission decreed for you by the Lord, do not feel sad for the delay but do your best to help and encourage others for that may be the training period for the big job.
Second, Prepare and pray without ceasing, ‘being vigilant in it with thanksgiving’ (Colossians 4:2). It is to have our minds focused on the things of God, being in constant fellowship with Him to make every moment of life fruitful for His work.
Third, accept all responsibilities with gratitude for God to then keep you rising up the ladder to get closer to Him.
Four, be diligent in following and doing the small and least important things with as much delight for He searches the hearts to reward accordingly.
Five, develop a close relationship with the Lord through His Word, ‘meditate on it day and night, that you may observe to do all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous’ (Joshua 1:8). Lord Jesus told the disciples, ‘The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner’ (John 5:19). Every task that God assigns to His people must be performed as per His way only.
Six, expect the unexpected always – Mary was visited by the angel Gabriel with the news, that any woman of the world would love to hear, and she readily answered, ‘Behold the maidservant of the LORD! Let it be to me according to your word’ (Luke 1:38).
Seven, obedience – Joseph wanted to quietly divorce Mary, after learning of her pregnancy, but when told about her blessed state through a dream, took her to be his wife (Matthew 1:23-25). And he ‘did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn son’. Both Joseph and Mary had been living lives in close relationship with the LORD God and it was this reason of their being chosen and readily surrendering to His Divine will.
God is ever ready to use all who are ready to serve Him but he seeks only those who are willing, prepared and waiting for the call. Am I ready and waiting for the call?
To obey God’s call for any role, we do not need any special quality in us but God the Holy Spirit guides and strengthens each one of us. On our part we are to excel in our efforts in whatever we have undertaken to ensure the best possible outcomes. Every moment and every work of our lives prepares us for the greater works that lie ahead. But invariably, while seeking higher responsibilities we miss out for being out of focus, we spoil the present and miss out. Our God, the great ‘I AM’ is of the present while leading us into the future expects us to live in and for the present moment and excel in that. Are we ready?