Making Your Calling and Election Sure
There seems to be a great deal of confusion surrounding the question of God's will for our lives. Recently, I was under such a predicament. I was looking for the big ministry, the one that affects thousands of people, the kind that in some way gives the glory to me and puts me on the seat of power. I wanted to write novels and books that would shake the church and the world. I secretly wanted the name and prestige such success would bring. I believe that God has given me the gift of writing, but he showed me the clear difference between gifts and talents and His will or calling for my life. His ultimate will is for me to love him and put him first, follow the alling He has put on my heart - to love and serve others. The gift of writing is merely a tool to be used in serving others to encourage them. The door to my selfish success never fully opened the way I thought it would. Instead of the grandiose career in publishing, he sent me to a local city hospital to volunteer my time to visit the sick and elderly who were shut-in. This is something I had only mildly considered, something I thought I should do, but I put priority on my career instead. So I quickly shut that door. But once I agreed to obey Him in doing this, my heart was filled with jubilant excitement. I knew He was going to walk into every room of sadness with me and bring His joy, love and peace. What could top this? I was about to embark on a wonderful adventure.
Why does God give us gifts and talents in the first place? For several reasons, to use for His glory to bring encouragement to the saints, salvation to the unsaved, pleasure for others, ourselves and Him, as a way of communicating His love and concern for us. And does God call only the talented, intelligent, rich and famous to do His will? Scripture says just the opposite is true.
For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. 1
What makes this passage difficult for us to grasp is that it is directly opposed to the philosophy of secular man. This particular passage of Scripture hits on several things. First, that God does not call a man or woman according to financial status or ability to persuade or control. It also deals with the pride of humankind and man's quest for power and control which is usually propelled by the amount of money he has at his disposal. Other places in Scripture warn us that we cannot serve God and money, for we will either hate one and love the other. We are faced with some hard decisions. God will not compromise and neither should we.
The last part of the above quoted Scripture is the key to the entire passage. God will not share His divine glory with proud fallen man. The rest of the Scripture exhorts us to glory only in what the Lord has done for us. He has given us (verse 30) "wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption." How does this relate to God's calling on our lives? First, that we put aside any grandiose dreams that are filled with pride and are geared to bring glory, power, and wealth to ourselves. Even a pastor of a church and the church itself may falter in this area. The pastor has dreams of doubling the size of his congregation, which will in turn likely increase the size of his income. Perhaps he will move up the ranks in his denomination and start up or head up other churches. It all looks good and sounds good on paper - to further the work of the Lord and bring many more to Christ. However, at what cost is this pastor and congregation willing to do this? In the past several years, newspaper headlines have confirmed that this is exactly what happens to some TV evangelists who abuse their positions of power.
There is always the grave danger of abuse when God grants us gifts and talents to be used for His ultimate glory. King Solomon concluded that, "all is vanity" (Eccl. 1:2). For a man that God had been blessed with much wisdom and riches, he discovered the folly of opulent living.
Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself? 2
King Solomon wisely considered the time span of man, that we are only on this earth for a period of time and then we must give account of our lives to God. He ended his book with the following:
Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgement, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. 3
What does it mean to fear God? Since God is not the author of fear (as in anxiety), it means to reverence or respect God. We cannot glorify God or give Him glory without maintaining an attitude of reverence towards Him. Can we have self-centered pride in our heart and a reverence for God at the same time? It appears that many professing Christians believe it is possible and indeed even justify it.
In conclusion, God always looks at our reason for doing things. Any gifts or talents he has given us are meant for advancing God’s work to show others His love and care. To truly know the heart of God is to follow this one important verse:
Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. 4
We must frequently ask ourselves this question, "If Jesus were physically on this earth, where would He be and what would He be doing?" You and I can be His hands and feet and voice. We don't need a lot of gifts, talent and money to do His perfect will.
Romans 9:11 (For [the children] being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)Romans 11:5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.Romans 11:7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blindedRomans 11:28 As concerning the gospel, [they are] enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, [they are] beloved for the fathers' sakes.1 Thessalonians 1:4 Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.2 Peter 1:10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
1 I Corinthians 1:26-29 KJV
2 Ecclesiastes 7:16 KJV
3 Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 KJV
4 James 1:27 KJV