Preaching and writing often revolve around ourselves. Postmodernists posture, 'How will it benefit me to believe in God? What does it mean for me?'
Christians should ask themselves: how can I be useful to God? How can I be an instrument for God or how can I give God's blessing to another?
God gives tasks, such as 'make disciples of all nations'. But God also gives principles as to how we should do that. To be a useful instrument for God, we have to know the 'what' and 'how' to act according to God's methods and principles.
At some point in the history of Israel there were two kings. They were both chosen by God and set apart and yet were so very different. Read further 1 Samuel 8: 1-9. Samuel was old but his sons were not very virtuous. A problem between leaders and people arose and the two sides were not on speaking terms. Yet the problem was not resolved on their knees.
Their circumstances were much like our modern times and we see in the Old Testament how many times the Israelites made the mistake of, as Paul puts it, conforming to the world.
There are indeed Christian leaders who preach about money or are big ego trippers and I know several Christians who do not go to a church or congregation as they have already dismissed the church and simply try to maintain the faith by themselves.
Christian analysts have looked into whether there are behavioural differences between Christians and unbelievers, and sometimes they have concluded that there are few differences. If that is the case, we cannot be a blessing and we have nothing to offer.
Dissatisfaction and conformity are not good facilitators. The Israelites wanted change without going on their knees, they were looking for the easiest solution. They asked for a king. Both Samuel and God were very sad about this. If we get an answer to prayer, it does not always mean that it is God's will. Sometimes God answers for our sake. God had this situation predicted in Deuteronomy 17:14.
We see that God chooses Saul. He won many victories and was a good leader. But suddenly, he breaks God's principles and as a result he loses his ministry. He would lead the people and serve, but God said, 'I give it to another' (1 Sam 13:13-14.), There is 'someone better than you' (1 Sam 15:28).
Sometimes we can experience something similar. You're doing fine work in your church and suddenly you hear the words: we'll give your job to someone who is better than you. The rejection of Saul has nothing to do with being saved or lost, but God saw that Saul had not acted on God's principles. God can therefore stop a ministry or work. Saul acknowledged that he was wrong and he did not take God's methods and principles seriously.
There are people who wonder why God seems to sometimes be unfair. A former Bible teacher once said to me: if God can still use anyone 5%, He will do it. It's not about the percentage, but the principle that God wants to use everyone even if it is only partially and it goes against our own logic. The question for us is: are we content that God only can use us for a few per cent?
After a sinful Saul there was a 'holy' David. Well, he made a lot more mistakes than Saul, like adultery, murder, did not raise his children, was rock hard, and wanted to know how great he was by the people and so on. And yet ... God called him a man after His own heart. God chooses David, election has nothing to do with salvation, but with ministry and works.
Samuel is sent out to anoint a new king. He comes to Jesse to choose from his sons and David is out in the dullness and monotony of the sheep. None of the brothers say 'Dad, you forgot a son'. The whole family did not think that Samuel had come for David but God saw something more and something much deeper.
God began David to make ready for his calling and this time it was to use David to the full percentage. Our whole life is God's school and he has all the time. Very often I hear the preaching: 'You can come as you are'. That is perfectly true, and yet half a message: 'You cannot stay as you are.'
To be useful for God you must follow His training and that is quite different than what we get at school. It is very interesting to study men of God in the Bible and see how God educates them. Moses learned for 40 years at the court of Egypt how to be a leader. Moses was 'a somebody'. Then Moses practised as leader of sheep and he got an intensive course on how to survive in the desert. Moses was 'a nobody'. The last forty years of the training was to see what God could do with a 'nobody'. Our whole life is a school for God's tasks in the future. On the grave of a Christian it cannot be inscribed: 'Here rests'. There is work to be done in our lifetimes.
How much 'nobodies' are there in your church? Leaders may not think to ask him or her to do something and yet God says, 'I'm going to prepare that person for My job'. Of course we must look at the qualities of people for a certain task, but we will also need to look much deeper. It is too one-sided to only look for quality, which is short-term thinking. We must be alert to see where God invests. We have to delve into God's qualities to make a tool and instrument out of people. We have to understand what God considers as important and where God has sown.
Did David go after his anointing to buy a crown? No, he just went back to perform his daily work, he took up his responsibility in addition to the training of loneliness, monotony, boredom and reality.
Someone who wants to be a tool and instrument of God is trained. I was reading a book with this question: 'what does humiliation mean to you'? David says this: 'Your help has made me great' (2 Sam 22: 36).
David had problems and struggles, he had to fight with a lion and a bear. He might have complained and said 'why do I always have this difficulty?' When he stood before Goliath, he understood ... it was training and preparation. Someone said it this way: 'It's a Christian work to convert a pagan but it is a pagan work to convert a Christian.'
God wants to make an instrument for His kingdom. If you want to be this, then your whole life will be training, training, training, lifelong training. Sometimes the lessons will be lessons. We will often ask 'why?'. We want to be an instrument of God? This is only in His principles, not of man. Obedience is the key. God is looking for people whose hearts are fully devoted to Him (2 Chronicles 16:9).
I hear regularly lately: what can one person do in God's kingdom? Every person is unique. Each individual can do something the other cannot. David stood alone for Goliath and won. We now see that Christians get stuck where the blows increasingly fall. The question is, do we stay there?
Was there a difference between the method of Saul and David? I think David walked with God. Have you ever heard of the psalms of Saul? David discussed everything with God, his grief, his questions, his joy, he gave God the glory and thanks.
Developing our talents is very important. The spiritual impact or fruit of your ministry and works is determined by obedience to God's principles.
We are called God's workers (1 Corinthians 3.9) but what percentage will God be able to use us?
Dick Slikker lives in Harderwijk, in the Netherlands and is a speaker and mission consultant. Visit www.projectcaremc.org and www.lessgodmorecrisis.org