Salvation is for all. Service is for those chosen for it. All may
serve. That all do not is simply because service requires qualities which all do not have. Yet, again, all may have them who will, for the required qualities are heart qualities
. And every one of us can cultivate the heart qualities. There is special service, chiefly of leadership, requiring brain qualities as well as heart. But the Master attends to the choosing of men for such service.
And where His spirit has touched human hearts there will be a glad doing of just what service He appoints. It will be an honor to do just what He asks because He asks. What it may happen to be will be a small matter in itself. It is for Him, at His desire, and that is full enough to bring out the best we have.
Our old Tarsus and Antioch friend and leader has written a special word about this matter of being chosen for service. It is in his first letter to the recently organized church at Corinth. It is really his second letter, for he seems to have written one before it that has not been preserved. There were some very serious matters in this new church requiring strong treatment by its much-loved founder. Among them was one about service.
There were some who had gifts in service that seemed more attractive and desirable than others had, it might be said more showy. And their brethren, not free from the old worldly spirit, were envious and jealous. And these who had such gifts were not free from a boasting spirit. Factions or parties had arisen as a result. It was the bad world spirit of competition and rivalry in among Christ's followers where it should never come, yet where it still does come. In writing this letter Paul throughout blends great plainness and common sense with great tenderness.
In the beginning of his letter he calls attention to the fact that there are not many among them of those who were reckoned by the world's standards as wise or mighty or noble. On the contrary, in choosing His leaders God had purposely chosen those reckoned by the world's standards foolish that He might show plainly the shallowness of what they deem wise. And so things reckoned weak had been chosen to give the conception of what true strength is. And things even base, and despised, and not counted at all had been used that so men might learn the God-standards of wisdom and strength and honor and of what is worth while. The purpose being that men should quit glorying in themselves and glorify Him from whom everything had come, and was ever coming.
The passage has oftentimes been quoted as though God prefers weakness; never put so bluntly as that perhaps, but plainly meaning that. That of course is not true. God wants the best we have. He needs the best. And for leadership often His plans must wait till a man of the sort needed can be gotten. And gotten frequently means broken, shattered, and then made over wholly new, that the native strength may be used according to true standards.
Jacob was chosen rather than his elder brother Esau, not because of Jacob's goodness but because of Esau's weakness. God was narrowed to these two grandsons in carrying out the promise to Abraham. Jacob was contemptible in his moral dealings, but he had qualities of leadership wholly lacking in his brother. His moral character was a serious hindrance. God had to handle him heroically before He could get the use of his stronger mental equipment. Jacob had to get a bad throw-down before he would be willing to let God have His way. His body must be weakened before his mental power would yield. That was the weakness of his stubbornness. Stubbornness is strength not strong enough to yield.