The fact that God uses men at all is a wonderful reality. From one point of view He doesn't need us. As Jesus once said, He could use stones if He wished, but He has chosen to use men. This means, of course, that He has chosen to use imperfect instruments. Yet our imperfection will not block God if our attitudes are such that we are willing to be used by Him. The man God uses is marked by a number of characteristics.
First, the man God uses is concerned only that God be glorified. He realizes his imperfection and is concerned only that God be glorified and His will be done. A subtlety of the devil is to entice men and women into Christian work for their own glory and selfadvancement, but this is the road to spiritual disaster.
Second, the man God uses is totally committed to God so far as he knows his own heart and mind. Jesus declared in Luke 9:23: "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." Jesus always spelled out the cost of what it meant to follow Him. It means dying to oneself and one's own ambitions, one's own cleverness, one's own power, and following Christ. It means saying with Paul, as he did on the Damascus road, "Lord, what will You have me do?" It means commitment to the will of God, sight unseen, declaring that we trust God's character.
Most of us, if we were to admit the truth, say to the Lord, "Show me what Your will is so I can decide whether or not I want to go along with it." Though we may not intend it, this is a consummate insult to God's wisdom and love. We are really saying, "God, I think I know better than You do what will be best for me and what will make me happy," or "God, I don't really trust You. I have a feeling You are going to make me miserable if I commit my life to You without reservation." The God who loved us enough to give His Son to die for us on the cross is not about to shortchange us in life when we come to Him in total commitment.
Third, the man God uses is the man who has faith. Faith can be defined as confident trust. It is important to realize that faith is not a sophisticated synonym for superstition. In the Christian sense, faith is based on evidence, and it is a faith that goes beyond reason but not against it. Faith involves believing in unseen realities. Those who can see with the eye of faith have a grasp of the reality of God (what He can and will do in a given situation) and are not simply wishful thinkers. This faith also involves believing in the power of God as well as in His character and integrity.
Fourth, the man God uses is the one who has seen himself and seen God and His power in experimental, as well as propositional, terms. He really trusts God's power and wisdom. The point of the story of the widow and the unjust judge in Luke 18 is not that we have to nag God, but rather that if the judge who was crooked to the core gave this widow justice because she was persistent, how much more will our heavenly Father, who is not unjust and who loves us, hear us when we come to Him. The widow went to that judge knowing that he was her only hope. This must characterize us in prayer if we are to be used of God.
Sometimes people say, "There's nothing else we can do but pray," as though all the practical things have been done and now we can only turn to the impractical. Actually, prayer should be our highest priority. We must believe that God is our only hope, and He is, if we want the supernatural work to be done.
Sometimes God puts us in a place of absolute desperation to bring us to this conviction. He told Gideon to reduce the number of people in his band to three hundred because He said if there are more than that Israel would "vaunt themselves against me, saying, 'My own hand has delivered me.'" We must trust God in His wisdom that what He does for us will be best.
Sometimes we ask amiss in prayer and God answers us, and with the answer, sends leanness of soul. But if we trust that what He does for us will be right, He will not let us down. The expression, "He gives the very best to those who leave the choice with Him," is true. We must trust the love of God. The supreme test of faith for the non-Christian is often the question of whether or not God exists. For the Christian, however, it is whether or not God is good. In the face of tragedy, only trust in His character will carry us through.
It is a great comfort to know that God does not ask us to understand Him, only that we trust Him.
Fifth, the man God uses is the man who trusts God and His providence in all that is past, in His present working and in the future. It means accepting as from God our background, our personality, our gifts, or the lack of them. We recognize that everything that has happened to us up to this point has been, not by chance but, by the providential hand of God. At the same time, we recognize that God is working in our present circumstances. He is not on vacation. He has not forgotten us. Rather, He is concerned and loves to work out His will in our lives.
Sixth, the man God uses is the one who can rest the future in the hands of this all loving, all-knowing, allpowerful God. The future is unknown to us but is completely known to God. He knows the way that we will take. We know that our ultimate destiny is to be with Christ forever, and we know that our future is secure in His hands. The man God uses rests in this knowledge and radiates peace and confidence in the midst of uncertainty and turbulence.
Seventh, the man God uses is the one who obeys God at all costs. This involves an awareness of what the commands of God are and a familiarity with His Word, the Scripture. His will is much more easily discernible than we think if we will expose ourselves to what He has already said.
Eighth, the man God uses is the one who recognizes he can do nothing in his own strength. Is anything more impossible than trying to live the Christian life in the energy of the flesh? I do not mean that we are to be passive, but rather by faith we should lay hold of all the resources we have in Christ. Paul says in Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things in him who strengthens me" (R.S.V.).
Finally, the man God uses is the one who walks with God daily by reading His Word and fellowshipping and communing with Him in prayer. To what extent are you and I qualified to be used of God? Let us examine ourselves in His presence and confess those areas of sin, failure, and lack in our lives, and then by faith recommit ourselves, without reservation, to Him who is willing to take us and use us for His power and glory. Only in this way will our lives be an investment in eternity.
Paul E. Little, was an associate professor of evangelism at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, when he wrote this article.