Have you ever stopped and thought about the people in the Bible that God used to make a significant impact on the world? There are some names that are going to come to all of our minds. Think of all of the people who played a major role in shaping God’s kingdom. The ones whose stories we still share today. We should strive to be like these spiritual giants.
What is it that all of these folks had in common? What is it that made them seemingly rise above the rest and lead God’s people? What do they have that we don’t?
The first thing that I see in every Bible hero is that they aren’t good enough. That may go against all conventional wisdom for what it takes to be great, but that is an undeniable truth in every Biblical story.
Let’s start with Noah. The last time we see him is when he is passed out drunk, naked, and cursing his son (Gen. 9: 18-29).
Then there’s Abraham, the father of God’s people. He lied about Sarah (his wife) saying that she was his sister, as a way to protect himself (Gen. 12). This put Sarah into a dangerous situation. Later, he had a child with Hagar, his slave, instead of waiting on God to deliver His promise (Gen. 16).
Jacob, who would later be named Israel and thus physically create God’s people, tricked his dying and blind dad into giving him the birthright that rightfully belonged to his older brother Esau (Gen. 27).
Let’s jump ahead to Moses, the great deliverer of God’s people. The one who led the exodus out of Egypt into the Promised Land. Before he meets God at the burning bush, he murdered a man and tried to hide the body. Once he was caught, he ran away and went into hiding (Ex. 3:11-22) He then disobeyed God in the desert and wasn’t permitted to enter into the Promised Land (Gen. 20: 1-13).
What about David, a man after God’s own heart? He would go on to be the greatest king in Israel’s history. He would lead God’s people to victory after victory while always guiding them to live holy lives. In the middle of all of that, he commits adultery with Bathsheba and then has her husband killed. It was a gross injustice of a king abusing his power (2 Sam 11).
Let’s jump ahead about 1000 years and look at the disciples. Andrew, James, John, and Peter were uneducated fishermen. Matthew was a tax collector, which means he made his money by exploiting the Jews, his own people. Simon the Zealot was an anarchist who wanted to overthrow the Roman government by any means possible. This doesn’t sound like a list of people who you would choose to usher in God’s kingdom.
Finally, let’s talk about Paul. The most celebrated missionary of the early church began by being the church’s worst enemy. After taking part in Steven’s martyrdom (Acts 7), Paul led the persecution of the church. “But Saul (who changes his name to Paul) was revenging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.” (Act 8:3) The man who would go on to plant church after church was once the man set on destroying it.
I could go on with more examples of people who we see as heroes of the faith and tell you about how they were flawed, but I think you get the picture. The Bible isn’t a book full of perfect people living perfect lives for God. There is only one man who can make that claim, and that was Jesus who was and is God with us.
The Bible is full of people who aren’t good enough to achieve what they achieved for God. How then did they manage to do what they did? The only thing that I can figure out is that they strived to follow God. Even in the weakest moments of their lives, they still wanted to live for God.
I take this as some of the most encouraging news in all of scripture! I am aware that I am not good enough to achieve anything for God. The truth is that none of us are. We are all flawed, and we all struggle with sin. That’s not going to change until Christ comes back or calls us home. Just like the giants of our faith, we are in a group that I like to call “The Not Good Enough.” We all stand on equal footing with Moses, David, Peter, John, and Paul. It’s what we do from here that will determine if we will be impactful for the kingdom.
You have a choice each and every day. You can decide to follow God or not. I don’t think that it ever occurred to most of these people that they were doing great things. They were just trying to discern what it is that God called them to do and then they were doing their best to live out that calling. Paul was just trying to fix some issues in the Corinthian church and offer them encouragement when he wrote his letters to them. Little did he know that it would be a letter that is read daily around the world by believers, strengthening and encouraging them. Phillip was just offering guidance to the Ethiopian eunuch that he met on the road. He had no clue that it would lead to the spread of Christianity to Africa and the founding of the Ethiopian church. Just because what you’re doing may not seem like it is changing the world doesn’t mean that it’s not. If you are doing everything you can to follow God, then you are making an everlasting impact for His kingdom.
Take pride in being part of “The Not Good Enough.” That is precisely who God has chosen to use for His kingdom and His Glory. Don’t lose heart when you stumble and fail, that’s going to happen. Just remember, the cross is bigger than those mistakes. Don’t dwell on not being perfect (although, always strive for it) but focus on doing everything that you can to live out the calling that God has placed on your heart. If you do that, then you will forever be described the same way the saints of old are described in Hebrews 11:38, “The world was not worthy of them…”