“Now, it came to pass after the death of Joshua that the children of Israel inquired of the Lord, saying, ‘Who should go up for us first against the Canaanites to fight against them?’ And the Lord said, ‘Judah shall go up. Behold, I have given the land into his hand.’”
“And no one takes this honor upon himself, but one called of God.”
In Judges, if any tribe other than Judah had attempted to go up first against the Canaanites, they would have failed because God had chosen Judah to receive that honor, and nobody can annul God’s choices. When some wicked men tried to stir up envy in John the Baptist’s heart toward Jesus, he sharply answered, “A man can receive nothing unless it be given to him from heaven” (Jn. 3:27). What a wise man! John knew that if Jesus was accomplishing a holy work, then God had chosen him to do it, and that if Jesus was doing his own will, whatever he was doing would amount to nothing. That understanding left no room for envy of Jesus, for all true honor comes from God alone, and it cannot be stolen.
Some years ago, some of us were listening to an old reel-to-reel message by my father to the congregation in Louisville, KY. In it, he made this statement: “I may not always be right, but I am always pastor.” That bold and humble statement struck me, and I have never forgotten it. He was saying, in effect, “Even if I have failed at times to perfectly fulfill my office, God chose me for this honor.” That is a very humbling thought because it is more than just a thought; it is real life. I know my own foolishness, weakness, and faults, and I have confessed them to God many times in prayer.
Paul’s confession in 1Corinthians 15:10 means a lot to me. After admitting that he was unworthy to be an apostle, he said, “Nevertheless, by the grace of God, I am what I am.” That is all that anyone can truthfully say who has been chosen by God to receive any honor. Wise souls walk worthy of the honor that has been given to them by God. And because that is true, I desire your prayers, that I might be found faithful in handling the honor that God has given to me to be your pastor and teacher.