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Read Hebrews 11:31-12:1
All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith… (Hebrews 11:39).
I have a friend who is doing “The Joy Project.” Heard of it? It’s okay that you haven’t. She made it up. It’s simple, really: She wants to be more joyful, so she looks for people who are joyful. But instead of placing them on the tiptop of the pedestal, admiring them from the distance below, she’s decided instead to learn from them. She asks them questions to implement the truths they share. And what she’s discovered is this: Greatness comes from ordinary imperfect people.
How easy to look at heroes of the faith—King David, the Apostle Paul, Queen Esther, and Joseph, the second-in-command over Egypt—and put them in a “holy box”! I gaze at these esteemed models and then at my ordinary self. The lies are quick to follow: God can’t use people who struggle like I do. My testimony isn’t interesting enough to inspire others. I just don’t have the charisma or personality to make a big difference in others’ lives. I don’t have all the answers, so I shouldn’t speak up for fear of appearing dumb.
We quantify a holy Christian to a checklist of rights and wrongs, accomplishments and righteous recognitions, unqualifying ourselves from usefulness in God’s Kingdom. Do you remember receiving a checklist from God when you became a believer? God wants your heart and affections, not a pharisaical checked list. When Israel’s first king turned from God, God sent Prophet Samuel on a quest for a heart, and along the way He had to remind his prophet: “The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7). God saw the heart of a shepherd boy, who was perceived as a nobody, and desired him to become king of His people.
The stories recorded in Scripture show God using ordinary people in mighty ways. But dig a little deeper in the dirt, and we start to see cracks and flaws beneath these faith figures. David, the adulterer, was “the man after God’s own heart.” Paul, the murderer, was the apostle who wrote most of our New Testament. Esther, the despised exile, was the woman who saved her people from genocide. Rahab, who daily sold her body to men, saved Israel’s spies. The kidnapped Israeli servant girl of Commander Naaman was the unnamed child God used to point her master towards healing. The list goes on.
Over the next seven weeks, we’ll look at some of these people. And we might find them quite similar to us. They, too, dealt with difficult people. They experienced loss. Their government failed to deliver consistent justice. They had rebellious kids and days they wished they could do over. But God used these ordinary people on ordinary Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays to change history. How did they do it?