One of the most encouraging things in all the world is to find out that the best of people are all sinners. Better still, that all of those people in the Bible had their weaknesses. Jacob had his self-pity, something that bedeviled him all his life. And one of the greatest prophets of all – Elijah – was so filled with pride, self-pity and self-righteousness that it is a wonder that God used him.
Consider Elijah at Mount Carmel. He claimed to be the only one of God’s prophets left. Wrong. He had just met Obadiah a day or two before and knew that there were prophets Obadiah had hid in a cave from King Ahab. And yet Elijah said before everybody, “I alone am left”, showing that he felt he was so worthy! God might have said, “STOP! Elijah, I cannot use you now; you have just given into self-righteousness and shown contempt toward many of my prophets”. In other words, God could have stepped in and stopped the whole procedure.
But God let Elijah carry on. He did not embarrass Elijah. He waited for days and days to deal with Elijah. Then one day it was as if God said to Elijah, “Oh by the way, Elijah, I have 7,000 that have not bowed the knee to Baal”. In other words, God sorted Elijah out later on – privately and alone.
God does that with all of us. We have all messed up and given God a thousand reasons for disowning us and stop using us. But he overlooks our weaknesses graciously and later – privately, letting us save face – shows us what is wrong with us.
I sometimes wish I could start 57 years of ministry all over again. But I tell myself, if God could use Elijah, he could use me. And if God can use me he can use anybody.