Often those with a less-than-reputable past or the unhappy doubt their usefulness to the Lord and have no confidence as a Christian. With such verses and statements like, “a corrupt tree [cannot] bring forth good fruit” (Matt. 7:18b), “Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?” (James 3:11), and “They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.” (Titus 1:16), one might question his/her worth to God. “Can God really use me?” Many downtrodden believe their lives to be so burdened with sin and sadness that God cannot use them for His glory. However, consider what Paul says of the heathen slave Onesimus, “I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds: Which in time past was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable to thee and to me” (Philemon 1:10,11). Not only does the famed apostle claim this man as his “son” but calls him “profitable.” One can be useless before God, but the demoralized possess the power to overcome such a state and rise to a place of great worth in the eyes of God and the church if they have the zeal to seek it!
Those who have sought redemption must believe that God can use them to the glory of the church and to the evangelism of the world. Everyone could have a place in the kingdom of God, no matter what they have done. Jacob the son of Isaac was a cheater, a traitor to his brother. Peter had a temper and denied all association with Christ from peer-pressure. David had an affair with a married woman and had her husband killed in battle. Noah got drunk. Jonah ran from God. Paul was a murderer and destroyed Christian families. Gideon was insecure and had no faith in himself. Miriam was a gossip. Martha was a worrier. Thomas was a doubter. Sara was impatient. Elijah was temperamental. Moses stuttered. Zacchaeus was greedy. Abraham was old. Lazarus was dead! In all these individuals, God worked through them to glorify His name. These great people have forever been remembered for their services to the Lord and act as an example to all who hear their stories.
How can God work and use doubters in the current century? In each of the aforementioned excuses and shortcomings, God illustrates how to overcome them through His Word and power. Take time to read their stories! God works in the fearful today through the Word of God. “But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed” (James 1:25). If seekers of the truth spend their time in the study of the Word of God and do that which they hear and read, then they will be blessed through God, and God will be able to use them no matter what they have done in their past.
The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16). With every shortcoming, with every doubt, with every fear, God through the Word can provide an escape that the reconciled may be able to bare it (1 Cor. 10:13). From those overcome seeking material gain such as Jacob and Zacchaeus, God writes of the riches in heaven that await those who are willing to lay up for themselves treasures in heaven, but this means being generous and sacrificial in this world (Mat. 6:19-21; 16:26). For those encumbered lacking confidence in themselves such as Moses, Jonah, and Gideon, God writes “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:13). God explains the unlimited strength “through Christ” in the obedience to the gospel plan of salvation (Gal. 3:27; Rom. 6:3-4). For those blind by their concern with the pleasures and duties of this world such as Martha, David, and Noah, God writes that this life is but a “vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (James 4:14), the pleasures and burdens of this world only last a short time (Heb. 11:25; Rev. 2:10). It is better to abstain from the pleasures of sin for a short time and enjoy eternal reward, than indulge for a season and suffer eternal damnation (James 1:13-14). God will take care of the burdened if they let him (Matt. 6:25-34). For those lost lacking knowledge and wisdom such as Paul and Thomas, God writes that he has provided all the knowledge of life and righteousness in the words of Christ (2 Peter 1:3). If individuals lack knowledge, they have but to ask of God and open their Bibles (James 1:5; 2 Tim. 2:15). God can and will use anyone if they embrace His Word wholeheartedly!