Can God use messed up people? When I read about Abraham and Sarah, I would have to say, “Yes, He can.” Abraham was a liar and Sarah was spiteful. What a team! God was very patient and gracious with this couple. They weren't exactly model believers.
I'm not sure what a model believer is, but the Bible is full of least-likely people that God found useful. Abraham and Sarah made poor decisions resulting in further sinful behavior, which in turn affected others. With Abraham lying twice about who his wife was, and Sarah treating her maid Hagar badly, it's a wonder God blessed them at all. Amazingly, God didn't write them off as a hopeless case.
Sometimes I write off certain individuals as hopeless, only to be ashamed to find out later how God has used them in spite of their past. Or, my personal history with them doesn't see them as good candidates for God's usefulness. Isn't that our story too?
When I became a Christian in college, one of my closest friends could hardly believe it. She told me later that she thought I was a hopeless case! I had another friend who bounded up the stairs to my little apartment, knocked on the door and breathlessly asked, “Is it true that you became a Christian?” (Emphasis on YOU). She left shaking her head in amazement.
Does it ever bother you that sometimes God blesses Christians who seem to deserve it least? Come on, don't leave me hanging alone out here. We've all had those thoughts. God can and will continue to use the least likely, immature, prideful, weak, and foolish people. This may sound a little radical, but can't we all find ourselves in those categories? When God looks at us through His lens of grace, He sees potential, He never gives up on us.
That's where grace comes in. The breadth, length, and depth of His grace toward us is unending, measureless, and glorious. It is we who measure each other by our own personal standards. We write people off as not useful or unacceptable. So where does that leave Abraham and Sarah (or you and me for that matter)? They were ordinary people just like us. In spite of their sins God found them useful. They had a purpose. They were part of a larger plan. We have a purpose and are part of God's plan too.
Don't live like grace is just for you; grace is meant to be displayed and lived out in our everyday life. It encompasses forgiveness, humility, compassion, patience, and tolerance. Sometimes we don't get grace until we get grace—not just at salvation, but when we've really messed up.
The people that we write off as hopeless, God sees as useful and full of potential. We all have a story that was ordained and put into place long before we were born. The Bible is full of stories that involve messy people living messy lives. The world of Abraham and Sarah was very different from ours, but mankind’s sin nature has not changed, and neither has God’s grace toward us. Grace still abounds from our Savior!
Pray for someone this week that you deem as hopeless.
Pray for people who have failed and hurt you, and whom you can't possibly see God using.
Pray for God to give you eyes to see others in a more gracious light.
Pray that God will use you even in your imperfect state.