Consider Your Calling

Along with a few others, I am reading through my Bible again this year. I’ve done this several times before but not for the past few years so I am enjoying being re-exposed to the breadth of God’s Word to us. On Wednesday, one of the passages on my list to read was 1 Corinthians 1:18-31. I was struck by the beginning of this verse

1 Corinthians 1:26 For consider your calling, brothers…

Paul then goes on in the next few verses to remind the Corinthians of who they were before God intervened in their life.

I think that it’s wise and helpful for us to heed Paul’s words and consider what God saved us from. John Newton, the African slave trader turned pastor, made a practice of annually of doing just that. Every March, Newton would set aside a day or more to get alone with God and spend time contemplating what God had done in his life. He wrote, “But I endeavor to observe the return of this day [the day of his conversion to Christ] with Humiliation, Prayer and Praise.” And he did so for over a half a century.

Newton intentionally set about to put signs in his path to help him never forget God’s grace to him. For example, over the fireplace in his vicarage study at Olney, where he would always see it as he prepared for Sunday services and mid-week meetings, he placed a plaque reading, in large letters, as follows:

“Thou shalt remember that thou wast a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord thy God redeemed thee (Deuteronomy 15:15 in the Authorized Version).”

In addition he often called himself “The old African Blasphemer” as a way to keep himself humble and draw attention to God’s great mercy in his life.

One danger that we face is beginning to take God’s grace and mercy for granted. Instead of being astonished that God would become a man and die on a hard, wooden cross to rescue us from our sin, we are prone to minimize our sin and thereby minimize the cross. Maybe that’s what was happening in Corinth so that Paul needed to encourage the church to “consider your calling.” Maybe that’s happening in our hearts too.

Since I read that verse some 24 hours ago, I’ve been reflecting on my stubborn pride that caused me to exalt myself at other’s expense, my own sinful appetites that used to rule me, my thin veneer of religiosity that led to sickening self-righteousness. God, not because of anything I did or deserved, graciously opened my eyes to see my sin, opened my mind so that I would understand the cross, and softened my heart so that I would believe in him.

Now I don’t mean to give the impression that I no longer struggle with the sins that I just mentioned. Of course I struggle with those sins and many, many others. But my point is that that God rescued a sinner and has put me on a life-long path of following him. His grace saved me and his grace is changing me.

If you would like to start reading through your Bible over the course of a year, print out this chart from Discipleship Journal. Although it starts with January, you can begin anytime that you’d like. For example, cross out January, write in April, and start reading.

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