Useless? Nope

God can’t use me. Isn’t that what we tell ourselves?  That somehow or in someway we are disqualified from being useful in God’s hands. We are too old, too young, too busy, too sinful, too clumsy with words, too poor, too broken, in poor health, just generally useless. Yet when I look through the Bible, I see all kinds of examples of God using folks who were also “too….”

Consider Moses, his ministry didn’t really begin until he was 80, everything else was preparation. Or David, just a teenager when God used him to take on a giant. Too sinful? Just about all the spiritual pillars of faith in the Bible had a sin problem of some sort. The only sin that disqualifies is the one we refuse to take to God. Moses tried to disqualify himself at the burning bush because of a stammer. Too poor? Never a problem for God. Jesus sent out his disciples with just the clothes on their backs and the sandals on their feet. Consider the widow that gave two copper pennies and the poor widow that gave her last bit of bread to Elijah. All of these folks and much more were “too” disqualified in their eyes or in the eyes of others. But they weren’t.

There’s this wonderful play on words in Paul’s letter to Philemon. Onesimus, a servant in the house of Philemon, ran away and ended up in Rome. Paul wrote, “I appeal to you for my child Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my imprisonment, who formerly was useless to you, but now is useful both to you and to me.” (Philemon 10–11, NASB95) Onesimus means useful by the way. We don’t know the whole story. Why did Onesimus run away? I do get the feeling that Philemon labeled him as useless. Neither do we know how the story ends and whether Philemon accepted him back. We can assume he did, but we don’t know for sure. Here’s what we do know. Because Onesimus met Paul, he turned to Jesus. He went from useless to useful. He went from runaway slave to being a brother in Christ.

It’s a scary thing to be used by God. It means laying aside so many things, but mostly our pride. The funny thing is that once we take that step, we discover an indescribable joy. It doesn’t mean that the way is easy, in fact usually just the opposite. I can unreservedly say, however, that you are not “too” anything to somehow touch others with God’s love. Neither is that person sitting next to you. But like Onesimus we don’t really become useful until we’ve had an encounter with Jesus. It is a scary thing, we don’t like being “out of control” or like to risk the sting of rejection. But we must put those aside and trust Jesus. How about today you and I open the door of being useful for God. It’s a simple prayer – “Lord, show me how I can touch others today with Your love.”  See? God can use you!

Dale Heinold
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