Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

For many are called, but few are chosen.” – Matthew 22:14
“He must increase, but I must decrease.” – John 3:30

       Perhaps you have already heard the humorous little story of Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. It goes like this: There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought that Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

       That is fun and clever, but the truth is God is looking for Nobody to serve Him, because it’s the “nobody’s,” not the “somebody’s” that generally get things done. It’s the nobody’s with a servant’s heart who are content to remain and work for the Lord in the background so that when the Spirit of God comes down in power and might to save, heal, and deliver nobody gets all the glory but God who alone is worthy. The nobody’s believe Romans 12:3, “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think: but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith” and the nobody’s practice Romans 12:10, “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.” The nobody’s live according to Philippians 2:3, 4, Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”

       The principle of the “nobody’s” is throughout the Bible, and clearly explained in 1 Corinthians 1:24-31 where we read the admonition of the Apostle Paul concerning the call of God to the church at Corinth. He wrote, “But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are; That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”

       In our fallen human condition we begin early on in our earthly life trying to get everybody to adore us and make us the center of attention. We throw fits, temper tantrums, pity parties and play games to bend people to our will and way of looking at things. Adults who have never really grown up and who want to be somebody have simply fine-tuned their game playing. It never occurs to them that everybody wants to somehow be somebody as well. We don’t want to think of ourselves as going through life as just another nameless, faceless anybody who ends up being a nobody; thus, when the competition to be somebody begins, you see James 3:16 in action, “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” This evil should never be allowed to take root in our hearts, or ever be manifested in the Body of Christ, any more than any other sin mentioned in the Word of God.

       When Paul wrote to the Corinthian church about their calling, it’s clear that he was exposing their pride and lack of humility, which is a product of integrity and good character. One thing you will learn about character and humility is that the moment you take any credit for it, or pride in it, you have just shot the horse you were riding out from underneath you. At this point it does no good to grab a big stick so you can beat that dead horse. No! You must face your own deceitful heart and bring your soiled “righteous” rags to the foot of the cross and cry out to Jesus to forgive you, and His blood to cleanse you for your pride in trying to be somebody. If it’s any consolation, everybody is in this same, fallen condition. The difference, however, lies in the innermost decisions we make as individuals as to whether we will truly humble ourselves and line up with God and His Word, or whether we will allow the seeds of corruption and rebellion to remain hidden in the dark places of our unrelenting, unregenerate hearts.

       The first people Paul mentions of those that God does not call are the “wise men after the flesh.” This refers to those described in verse 18 of 1 Corinthians 1, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness: but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” How much of the world today, including those who are Christian in name only, consider themselves to be wise and the preaching of the cross to be foolishness? “But unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” God’s Word stands true, “For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world” 1 Corinthians 1:19, 20?

       The wisdom of the world is after the wisdom of Satan who tempted Eve with the lie, “Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” Genesis 3:3b-5. Those who are wise in their own eyes operate in the spirit of the world, or Satan. Isaiah 5:21 says, “Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” Proverbs 3:7 says, Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil”. But, for the true Christian their wisdom is from above. James 3:17 says, “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” This is the wisdom of the “nobody’s,” the people who have become like little children with pure hearts.

       When it comes to the “somebody’s” who see themselves as wise, it is the foolish things of the world, such as the “nobody’s,” that God uses to confound them. Concerning those things which are mighty God uses the weak of the world, such as children, the poor, the helpless, the infirm, and often women, to confound them. God chooses the base, the despised and the things which are not, to bring to naught the things that are so that no flesh should glory in his presence. There are many examples throughout the Bible of how God has used weak “nobody’s” to confound the wise. Consider the disciples for example. If He had been a man of the world, Jesus would have chosen the elite of His day to accomplish His mission; however, He used simple fishermen. These men were considered uneducated, lacking “social status,” skills, wealth or worldly distinction of any kind, yet the Lord chose these “simple” men to build the Kingdom of God.

       When the Children of Israel were slaves in Egypt, God chose a man who had spent forty years on the backside of the desert caring for sheep, who, when called by God to go set His people free suddenly felt his own weakness and said, “Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt” Exodus 3:11? Consider the shepherd boy, David, the youngest in his father’s house, and surely the weakest by the world’s standards, but God told Samuel to anoint him as king over Israel. Remember Rahab the Gentile harlot who was no doubt considered to be base, and was despised by many, but who saved the spies and became part of Jesus’ lineage along with Ruth, the Moabitess. Think of Mary, a young virgin with no impressive titles, position, power or great wealth, who said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed” Luke 1:46-48.

       Consider the two men who went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee was a man of religious status, the publican a despised “nobody” in the Jewish minds of that day. And so “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.” Then Jesus shocked his listener’s “I’m-a-somebody” sensibilities when He said, “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” (See Luke 18:10-14.)

        In spite of their lower social status, the disciples had a hard time learning how to be humble nobody’s and true servants. Surely they had to know from the reading of the Torah that God told the prophet Jeremiah, “And seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not: for, behold, I will bring evil upon all flesh, saith the LORD: but thy life will I give unto thee for a prey in all places whither thou goest” Jeremiah 45:5. Nevertheless, we read in Luke 9:46-48, “Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest. And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by him. And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.” Jesus spent a great deal of time teaching His disciples that the way to virtue and godly character is the way of self-denial, sacrifice, and humility. In Luke 14:11, after telling them the parable of the great supper, Jesus said “For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”

            Who do we think we are to not be willing to humble ourselves before the Lord God Almighty? Who do we think we are to refuse to submit to His Lordship, His Word, His commandments, His example, and His will for our lives? Jesus is our supreme example and even He prayed, in His most desperate hour, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” Luke 22:42. When He taught the disciples how to pray, He first taught them humble reverence, “Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven.” If Jesus thus prayed who are we to defy His holy order by insisting that our will be done rather than His? Our Lord taught self-abasement, not self-love and self-exaltation. He said in Luke 22:27, “But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.” 1 Peter 5:5, 6, “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.”” Think of Mary who humbly submitted to God’s authority and said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” King David, a man after God’s own heart, declared “For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness Psalm 84:10.” A good study is Micah 6:8 which tells us what kind of a person God will look to, “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” Consider Queen Esther’s humility and submission when she said, “Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish Esther 4:16.

            The cry of the Apostle Paul’s heart to Christians throughout the ages still rings strong and true today in his letter to the Romans, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith” Romans 12:1-3. Paul had no hidden personal causes or agendas to be a “somebody”, and said “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God” Acts 20:24. The truth is the Christian life is not for the purpose of making mankind the center of the universe. That means if you wonder “what’s in it for you” and continually insist on being a “somebody” who is not willing to be a behind-the-scenes “nobody,” then you lack godly character, are treacherous, lack a servant’s heart, and cannot be trusted to truly minister to God’s sheep for their sake and God’s glory alone.

       “The Ministry” is all too often used as a platform for aspiring somebody’s to be seen of men, applauded by others, exalted into positions of power and authority, and to serve as a means of implementing unbiblical, self-serving agendas and causes. We are warned in God’s Word to beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing, false prophets, workers of darkness, heresies, Satan’s wiles and his “ministers of light,” as well as those who preach “another Jesus, another gospel, and who have another spirit.” How very desperately the Church that Jesus died for, the Church that He is building, and the Church He is returning for needs spiritual discernment!

       As implied in this article, the key to being a “nobody” whom God can use for His glory is true humility. Everybody and anybody, along with somebody and even the “nobody’s” have to deal with pride. Andrew Murray hit the nail squarely on the head when he said, “Pride must die in you, or nothing of heaven can live in you.” He also said “Humility is the displacement of self by the enthronement of God.” We cannot have it both ways, we cannot serve two masters! The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.” (1 Corinthians 15:31). In James 4:6 we are told, “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.”

       Rayola said in one of her Bible studies “You cannot properly submit unless you come from a position of humility. The mind of Christ in you is humility—an attitude of humility.” She also reminded me of the different impressions of pseudo humility people can operate in such as the following: 1. Fake Nobility – Gives the impression of humility but lacks integrity. 2. Self-Pity – Lacks true brokenness that leads to repentance. 3. Victim – “This is my lot in life – God is unfair.” 4. Outward Piousness – Gives the appearance of humility but lacks the spirit of humility. She states, “Humility is a state that is prepared and willing to be humbled by the truth, revelation, and Word of God. Without humility a person is not in the right state to receive instruction from God by faith.”

       What are you? Are you a humble “nobody” in your own eyes, or do you see yourself as a “somebody” who deserves to be “in the ministry” as a notable individual? If you consider yourself to be a “nobody” in the kingdom of God, but nevertheless the fire of God’s Word burns in your soul, your spirit longs for all that God has for you, and your heart’s desire is to be a servant of the Most High, then consider who the Lord is searching for to serve Him in 2 Chronicles 16:9a. For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him and in this gripping Scripture in Ezekiel 22:30 “And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.” Isaiah 66:2b says “but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. Jesus said, “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him John 4:23.”

       Final questions to consider: Is God calling your name? Are you willing to humble yourself as a little child, to become an unknown “nobody” for the cause of Christ, one who is willing to become broken bread and poured out wine in identification with the Lord Jesus Christ, and join the nameless, faceless martyred “others” according to Hebrews 11:36-38a, “Of whom the world was not worthy”?