This morning, I was reading through Acts 1. The last 6 verses talk about the disciples finding a replacement for Judas Iscariot. After discussing it among themselves, they came up with two people from which to choose the one to replace Judas. They were Joseph, called Barsabbas and Matthias. Verses 24-26 have this to say about how they went about choosing between the two:
And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
I have read this passage a number of times and never really gave much thought to it because the apostles decided they needed someone to take the place of Judas and they prayed about it and asked God to point out which one and after the lot fell on Matthias, it was a done deal. I never really put more thought into it. Lesson is when big decisions need to be made, be sure to pray and seek God’s counsel so you make the wise decision. However, this morning, the passage stuck with me and something else came about I had never really thought about.
What happened to Joseph, or Barsabbas who was also known as Justus? Even though he was apparently qualified enough for the position, God did not choose him. For some of us, we know what it is like to not be picked for something. Maybe it was for a team in gym class or maybe it was being chosen for an All-Star team in some sport. You thought you deserved the position but it was given to someone else. To make things harder, it was given to someone you were pretty equal with talent wise. I have been in a position like this before where I was applying for a job where it came down to them hiring me, or moving someone from within the company into the position instead. It seemed each time this happened, they went with the person already within the company to fill the position I had applied and interviewed for. However, this is something much more important than simply being picked for a team or a job. This position was once held by someone who Jesus had chosen to follow Him. This position was an esteemed position because the men he was joining were the men who spent the most time with Jesus out of anyone else alive. But, the decision did not ultimately come down to the 11 apostles voting or the 120 others present; they prayed and left the decision in God’s hands. After deciding who was qualified enough for the position, they left the final say in God’s hands and God made it known through the casting of lots; Matthias would take Judas’ place.
I can only imagine the tension that might have been present in the room when this decision was finalized and Matthias was chosen. But at the same time, maybe there was no tension. Maybe Joseph was completely fine with this decision and was truly happy for Matthias. However, if I know humans, and I do since I am one, Joseph probably felt a bit of a letdown in his heart. He was probably disappointed to an extent because what human wouldn’t be if this were to happen to them? Is it wrong to have this feeling afterwards? No. But what is wrong is if you let this feeling take hold of your heart and do not keep it under control. Being tempted is not sin; acting on those temptations is sin.
There are 3 references linked to this passage where the man spoken of could be the same Joseph spoken of here in verse 23: Acts 15:22-34; Acts 18:7 and Colossians 4:11. I would encourage you to check them out. If they are the same person, it really speaks to the character of this man. When we are placed in a situation like this, we have 2 choices:
- We can allow the fact we were not chosen to lead us to become bitter people with a chip on our shoulder. We can believe with all of our heart we should have been the person picked for that position. But, since God did not give it to me, there must be some reason why so I am just going to “sit and sour” and bring down others with me. Yes I will still come to church but I am not going to give it my all anymore. I am going to stop serving in the same capacity. I am going to want to be served instead of serving. Why should I since when I did, God apparently did not like my work enough to give me the higher position. So I am just going to be bitter.
- We can realize even though we were not chosen for this specific position, God has something better for us to be doing for the body of Christ which will ultimately bring us more joy. Too often we want to fight for the higher positions thinking they are more important when the fact is, the church is a body. A body needs everything working together and filling their specific roles to remain healthy. So it is with the church. The church needs everyone working together and filling their God-given roles in order to work properly and in the way God intended. If we do not strive to find what God wants us doing and where God wants us serving, we are not the only ones who suffer, the body of Christ suffers.
To conclude, see what 1 Corinthians 12:18-20 has to say: “But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as He chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.” There is not part of the body that can tell another part, I have no need for you. If Joseph had chosen to get bitter, the body of Christ would have suffered. Even though Joseph was not chosen by God for that one specific position, God had another place for him to serve. So, if you have ever experienced the feeling of not being chosen, you are not alone. There are numerous stories throughout the Bible of people who are not chosen for something. It was not because God did not love them the same. Many times we do not know why God works the way He does. I have wondered this many times in my own life when God has closed a door. As I look back at my life, one thing I know God has wanted me to keep doing, and what He desires for each individual member of His body, is what 2 Peter 1:10 says:
“Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.”