Magnificence from Insignificance
By Patricia Knight
In the early history of mankind, for decades God’s people followed a predictable pattern of disobedience, prompting God to allow their enemies to conquer and enslave them as punishment for their sin. When the people could tolerate servitude no longer, they cried out to God in repentance. God was merciful and raised up judges to deliver them from exile and to lead them back into fellowship with Him. Peace was enjoyed for a time until the people once again adopted the pagan methods of worship. Then the cycle revived and revolved as before.
The judges God selected from among the Israelites had no specific knowledge or talent, but God was aware of their potential.
“The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.
Man looks at the outward appearances,
but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
The Lord focuses on a person’s character and desire to submit to His will and instructions.
God called the lowly rather than the mighty to do His work. God used Ehud, the second judge, to deliver peace to Israel. Left-handed and courageous, Ehud was qualified for the gruesome task of killing Eglon, the enemy Moabite king. Because most people of his day were right hand dominant, only Ehud’s right side was searched for a weapon before he entered the king’s quarters. “Ehud made a double-edged sword about a foot and a half long, which he strapped to his right thigh under his clothing” (Judges 3:16). From there he wielded it to kill the king, ensuring peace in Israel for the next eighty years.
Israel had no iron weapons, but for Shamgar, the third judge, an ox goad was the tool of his trade. A crude instrument used for prodding draft animals, it was a long wooden rod, sometimes fashioned with a metal tip. The ox goad doubled as a weapon of war that Shamgar used to kill 600 Philistines who had been terrorizing their main route of travel (Judges 3:31). Shamgar learned that whatever you have, no matter how humble, God will use it for His glory.
Judge Gideon was commissioned to save Israel from the Midianites. As leader of a group of quiet, persistent marchers, Gideon signaled them to blow trumpets and break pitchers at the precise time appointed by God, demolishing the walls of the city of Jericho. The enemy was pursued and subdued by the Israelis, securing peace for forty years.
When God first called Gideon, he was weak, frightened, and timid. Before Gideon could serve, God had to strengthen his wobbly knees and his cowardly heart. It proved to be a long, arduous process. God was patient, always supplying the man He chose with His Spirit of power. Weak vessels are the only kind He will use, not wanting man to boast of his own accomplishments, only those that glorify God.
After judges ruled Israel, the people begged God for a king like those who ruled their neighboring countries. Saul, their first king, had a humble beginning as a donkey wrangler. The people chose Saul based entirely on his physical attributes. Saul was not God’s choice, but because the people were insistent, God allowed them to learn a difficult lesson. “God changed Saul’s heart; the Spirit of God came upon him in power” (1 Samuel 10:9, 10b). God was patient and instructive with Saul, giving him every opportunity to succeed, but Saul didn’t give himself wholeheartedly to God or to the people’s interests. His monarchy was punctuated with pride, selfishness, personal ambition, disobedience, and jealousy. David eventually replaced Saul as king. Contrast Saul’s performance with that of David, God’s choice for king. David’s heart openly communicated and worshipped his heavenly Father. He was fervent about serving God and his people, whereas King Saul was self-serving.
God typically chose little men in character; mediocre, and feckless, to do His work—to lead and to achieve. They had no obvious talents and often possessed glaring faults, sometimes the very reason God chose them: Moses escaped after murdering an Egyptian; Jesus’ disciple, Matthew, was a despised tax collector; the Apostle Paul sincerely believed he should annihilate all Christians; and Peter, Christ’s disciple, denied knowing his Master on three consecutive occasions. God uses common people to do uncommon jobs; ordinary folk to perform extraordinary feats. He converts His weak children to towers of strength to promote His important tasks, all of them through the Spirit’s power and direction. The weakest and the most unprepared were believers God could mold and make from a previously inadequate person into a useable instrument for His glory. “Does the Potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay something for noble purposes and some for common use?” (Romans 9:21).
Is God using you to your full potential to accomplish His work? If your heart is open to His love and responsive to His leadership, there is no end to the magnificence He will create in your life. You may never be recognized as a person of importance, but God knows that your heart is responsive and prioritizes obedience to Him. “Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the Potter. We are all the work of your hands” (Isaiah 64:8). No one who yields to the molding of God remains commonplace. Our Lord only deals in the extravagant and the splendid, lavishing believers with unique abilities to accomplish His sovereign work. “But each man has his own gift from God” (1 Corinthians 7:7).The more we submit to His will, the greater power with which He equips us.
Believers, exercising their own efforts, are unable to achieve anything for Christ. It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit within us, who provides the strength and grace to please God and makes our lives count for Him. “The Lord… has filled you with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills” (Exodus 35:30-32).
As a believer, would you be eager and available to respond when God has a job to be done? To be hand-picked for a unique task, as the judges and kings were in ages past, identifies us as outstanding in our faithfulness toward God today. God delights in His servants and endows each one with spiritual gifts. God peers into your heart, looking for your willingness to serve, obey, and submit to his will. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” (Colossians 3:23).
Let us offer ourselves unreservedly as instruments for God’s work. Mortals cannot submit to the immortal without a major transformation occurring. Insignificance will give way to magnificence under God’s direction!