BY Rick Warren
God is not arbitrary about who he chooses to use.
The Bible says, "God is looking for people to use." And if you'll get useable, God will wear you out. You haven’t really lived until you experience being used by God to bless somebody else.
Some of you are saying, "God could never use me." You're wrong. Dead wrong! Not only can God use you, but he wants to use you.
Just look at Mary, the mother of Jesus. There are a lot of misconceptions about Mary. The Bible doesn’t say we’re to worship her. It doesn’t say she was perfect or sinless. In fact, what is special about Mary was her plain ordinariness. God took an ordinary woman and used her in an extraordinary way. That's what makes her special.
Mary had all kinds of fears, but she never let her fears control her. Instead, she modeled three attributes you must have in your life in order for God to use you. If you'll build them into your life, you'll find God using you in ways you can't even imagine.
1. God uses people who want to do his will.
Pastor, if you want to be used by God, you've got to want to do his will more than anything else. God has a custom plan for you, but it's not automatic. You must choose to cooperate with God's purpose for your life or you'll miss it.
There are two attitudes that Mary showed that made it clear she wanted to be used by God. They’d also be good attributes for us to emulate.
Enthusiasm. Shortly after an angel tells Mary that she will give birth to the Messiah, she sings, "Oh, how I praise the Lord. How I rejoice in God my Savior!” (Luke 1:46-47a NLT) Does that sound like someone who is just grinning and bearing it? Of course not! Nothing great is ever done without enthusiasm. God wants you to be an enthusiastic participant in his plan.
Humility. Then she says, "Thank you for thinking of your humble servant girl." (Luke 1: 48) None of us deserve to be used by God. We're all trophies of God's grace. Mary understood this. God works in our lives and blesses us because he wants to, not because we deserve it. We show God we want to do his will when we are humble.
What do you want most in life? To get married? To be financially independent, to make a million? To retire? You’ll need a greater life purpose or you’ll miss the boat. Some of those may be admirable goals – but they aren’t a life purpose.
In fact there’s really only one place to start when discovering God’s purpose for your life. "The thing you should want most is God's Kingdom and doing what God wants. Then all these other things you need will be given to you." (Matt. 6:33 NCV) It starts with a desire.
2. God uses people who decide to pay the cost.
There is always a cost in following God's plan for your life. You’ll have to give something up. And there will always be risks that will require you to step out in faith. That’s just part of being used by God.
Mary did this. She decided to take the chance, to risk, and to pay the cost. In Luke 1:38, she says, "I am the Lord's servant, and I am willing to accept whatever he wants. May everything you have said come true." (Luke 1:38 NLT) Mary was willing to do anything – regardless of the cost. God knew that. That’s one of the reasons he used her in such a powerful way.
Can you imagine what it cost Mary to be the mother of Jesus?
Her reputation. She was a virgin. She was pregnant. She was engaged to be married to Joseph. How are you going to explain that to everybody in the community?
Her comfort. The Bible said Jesus had to be born in Bethlehem. She's in Nazareth. How would you like to be nine months pregnant and take a long journey on the back of a donkey? Do you think that was comfortable?
God's purpose for my life includes some problems. They're not accidental. They're part of the plan. And that's part of the cost.
3. God uses people who dare to trust his promises.
Mary was a woman of deep faith. She didn't have all the answers, but she knew who did, and she trusted him. Mary was a woman who was not afraid of the supernatural. She wasn't afraid of miracles.
The reason God doesn't do miracle in your life is you don't expect him to. You play it safe spiritually. When was the last time you waited to buy something and just prayed about it and gave God the chance to give it to you first? God uses people who dare to trust his promises.
Mary had every reason to be worried. She would carry a great responsibility. But instead of worrying, Mary worshiped. In fact she sang a song of worship to God in Luke 1. Why? She dared to trust his promises.
Mary's cousin understood this. Elizabeth told her, "You believed that God would do what he said. That's why he has given you this wonderful blessing." (Luke 1:45 TLB)
If God can take a teenage girl, a poor peasant teenager with no education and choose her to be the mother of Jesus Christ, don't you think your excuse for not letting God use you is pretty puny?
Many of you have enormous spiritual potential, but you just don't see it. God can see it. He has given you spiritual gifts, passions, abilities, personality, and experiences. He doesn't mean for you to just use them on yourself. One day you will stand before God, and he will say, "What did you do with what I gave you?" What will your answer be?
It's Christmastime. Let me ask you a very personal question. What are you going to give Jesus for Christmas? It is his birthday. You've bought gifts for everybody else, but normally you buy a gift for the birthday boy. What can you give God?
Tell God this Christmas, "Here I am. All of me – the good, the bad, and the ugly. You do whatever you want to with it. I am yours in 2007."
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and best-known churches. In addition, Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose-Driven Life and The Purpose-Driven Church, which was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th Century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for ministers. Copyright 2005 Pastors.com, Inc. Used with permission. All rights reserved.