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God uses imperfect people to accomplish His purposes. A good example of that is Jonah. Jonah had run away the opposite direction when God told him to go to Nineveh. He went out and pouted after the city repented. But his ministry, however reluctant, resulted in the whole city repenting (see Jonah 3). It can even be claimed that God made use of his disobedience to bring the sailors in the boat going to Tarshish to repentance (Jonah 1). Now I do not advocate disobeying God and hoping He will nonetheless bring good out of it. But I do think there are some implications of this.  

God does not easily give up on us. He will give us second chances. He will use us even if our attitude is not perfect. He will work with us to help us see the error of our ways rather than simply discarding us. Now this is not an excuse to sin, but it is a comfort when Satan accuses us or we accuse ourselves. It is easy to get the feeling that we have blown it so badly God cannot use us or that we are so inadequate God cannot work through us. But the Bible makes it clear God forgives our sins (Romans 8:33,34; John 3:18; Hebrews 8:12). He also gives us the empowering to be adequate to do His work (2 Corinthians 3:5,6; Colossians 1:29; Ephesians 2:10). Now we do need to repent of our sins we are aware of (Proverbs 28:13; 2 Corinthians 7:10; 1 John 1:9), but we should not allow past sins or failures to prevent us from living for God.


But we also should not assume numerical success means we are doing what God wants or are living the way He commands us to. We are told it is God who works in the world to accomplish His purposes (1 Corinthians 3:6,7; Matthew 16:18; Psalms 127:1,2). Therefore, just because we are outwardly successful in accomplishing God’s purposes does not prove we are personally living a life of obedience (see also the story of Samson, Judges 13-16). We need to be careful of equating the outward success of a ministry with the spirituality of the people in charge. Nor should we conclude the external smallness of a ministry proves that those running it are unspiritual or doing it wrong. But we also need to be careful of jumping to the opposite conclusion and claiming there is something wrong with all large and successful ministries and all small ministries are spiritual. Rather, we need to evaluate every case on its own merits. But we should beware of pride if things are going well or discouragement if they are going poorly. Above all, we need to remember that God is the One in control of the world and His purposes will be accomplished (Ephesians 1:11; Romans 8:28; Isaiah 43:13). Even if those purposes are accomplished through imperfect people like Jonah. Or imperfect people like us.

Professor Erich's Take

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