READ: Genesis 25-27, Psalm 9, Matthew 9, Acts 9

Calling Before Cleansing 

Jesus calls us before He cleanses us. We have this mistaken notion that we must prepare ourselves for service – that our usability influences God’s selection. This is true neither for salvation nor service. God calls sinners to repentance – not those who suppose themselves righteous. God called Matthew the tax collector seemingly impulsively. Matthew responds, in his unconverted mess, and Jesus forms and disciples him along the way.

Usability has much more to do with obedience than giftedness. Obedience even precedes character. If we will obey Jesus, trust Him enough to say “Yes, Lord,” and follow Him, trust Him that He sees in us something we have not exhibited yet – that is enough for Him to begin to forge our character. First, obedience. Second, character. Third, competency.

What God has done for us, we should expect Him to do for others. Like Ananias, we hold the sins of Paul against him. We doubt the call of God on the life of those we have seen err in the past. But why would God treat Paul different than Matthew? Why do we expect God to have less grace on others than He has had on us? Let us trust God to choose His vessels, then let us lay down our lives to bless them, pray for them, and then rejoice over them when they far exceed us in usefulness to the kingdom.

A true test of Jesus-like character is when we sincerely rejoice at their advancement in the kingdom, and the increase of their usability. After Ananias prays for Paul, we never hear of him again in the Scriptures. Paul’s ministry profile soars, Ananias disappears.  May we not only rejoice in the increase of Jesus and our decrease with John (John 3:30); let us also rejoice when Jesus increases in our peers.

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