Gracefully Truthful


Read His Words Before Ours!

Ephesians 1:1-8
Malachi 3:16-18
Deuteronomy 14:1-2
Psalm 103:11-14

As I consider the concept of being chosen, it brings back memories of teams being chosen at school for a sport or a game.

The usual method in my school was to select two team captains who would take turns in choosing someone to join their team until everyone had been allocated a place. This may have worked well for those who were sporty or popular, but if you were anything like me, you knew the only chance you had of being chosen anywhere near the start was if your best friend was a team captain. Otherwise, there was the agony of waiting while person after person was chosen, hoping that you wouldn’t be last. 

Everyone would be chosen in the end, but if you were only chosen because you were the last one left, it didn’t really feel as though you had been chosen.

For a long time, when I thought about being chosen by God, this is the image that came to mind.

Of course, I knew God loved everyone, but I couldn’t quite let go of the idea that if I was chosen, surely it was out of obligation or politeness. I certainly wouldn’t be His first choice.

Ephesians 1 helped me think differently about this.

Paul begins by addressing the believers in Ephesus as “faithful saints” (Ephesians 1:1), and goes on to list the many blessings they have because they are chosen by God, wonderful blessings such as adoption, forgiveness, and redemption, in fact, every spiritual blessing in the heavens.” (Ephesians 1:3)

The exciting part is that if we are followers of Jesus, all of this also applies to us.

We may be all too aware of our faults and failings and struggle to think of ourselves as “faithful saints,” but that is who we are “in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 1:1)

Those three words provide the key to this whole passage. We don’t receive God’s abundant blessings or the accolade of “faithful saint” by our own goodness or effort. It is all a gift of God’s amazing grace “in Christ Jesus.” None of us earn “first pick status”, we’re all first because of His lavish love!

Truly, this is an incredible gift! Paul goes on to highlight several aspects of God’s purpose in choosing us:

  •     We are chosen to be made holy, to be set apart for God as His own special treasure. (Ephesians 1:4)

  •     We are chosen to be adopted into God’s family, brought to Him through Jesus. (Ephesians 1:5)

  •     We are chosen for redemption and freedom, purchased with Jesus’ blood and completely forgiven, showered with kindness and grace. God doesn’t hold anything back as He pours out His grace on us. (Ephesians 1:7-8)

Ephesians 1:6 uses the word “lavished.” The pastor of my former church used to say that the word translated as “lavished” in the text came from the Greek word “Nutella”. He was joking of course, but he went on to describe a slice of bread thickly laden with chocolate and hazelnut spread, right to the edges, and it was certainly a vivid illustration of the richness and abundance of God’s love for us.

It is encouraging to know this was always God’s plan.

Paul writes that we were chosen “in Him, before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4), so it is clearly not dependent on anything we have done. It was what God had already decided to do.

We see glimpses of this throughout the Old Testament of the Bible.

Malachi prophesied, “‘They will be mine,’ says the LORD of Armies, ‘My own possession on the day I am preparing. I will have compassion on them as a man has compassion on his son who serves him.’” (Malachi 3:17)

As Moses gave the Israelites the law, he encouraged them, “[Y]ou are a holy people belonging to the Lord your God. The Lord has chosen you to be His own possession out of all the peoples on the face of the earth.” (Deuteronomy 14:2)

David wrote of God’s desire to bring forgiveness and cleansing, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12)

It was always God’s plan to give us Himself, to free us, to forgive us and to make us His own people. His plan is not dependent on our goodness or our abilities.

If you’re still wondering whether there is any sense of being chosen reluctantly or out of obligation, I love how the New Living Translation of Ephesians 1:5 makes it clear that is definitely not the case. Speaking of God’s plan to make us holy and adopt us into His own family, it says, This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure.” (emphasis mine)

When we begin to truly grasp this truth, it changes everything.

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