Years ago, Donald Barnhouse wrote an interesting little pamphlet called How God Uses Little Things. It was excellent. In that pamphlet he went through the Bible from beginning to end, listing all the things that God uses. He began with Genesis, asking, “What did God use when He made man?” It was not plutonium. It was not gold. It was not steel, or any of the many other things we would consider valuable. It was dust, one of the most useless things there is. But what happened? God breathed into the dust so that man became a living soul.
The pamphlet continues on through the Bible, looking at many little things that God uses. Then at the end, Barnhouse begins to list the nobodies of Scripture. God used a slave girl to bring the means of healing to the leper Naaman. He used a poor widow to preserve the life of Elijah: as long as he lived with her, her cruse did not run out of oil. He used Joseph, an imprisoned slave, to become the prime minister of Egypt and save many people. He used the Samaritan woman, almost a prostitute, to save her town. The little things, you see, the foolish things, the weak things, God deigns to use.
I want to put a parenthesis in here, however. When we say that God has not chosen many wise, mighty, or noble, note that he says “many” and not “any.”
Years ago in the days of John Wesley and George Whitefield, there was a noble woman in England who helped them in their crusades. Her name was Lady Huntington, and she said that she got into heaven by an m. Well, when people asked her what she meant by that, she said, “It’s the m in the word many, because it does not say that not any wise, not any mighty, not any noble are called but not many.” You see, she was one of them. So when we say that God does not choose many wise or mighty or noble, but rather the foolish, weak, and base, we should not forget that this is not an exhaustive or an exclusive description, because sometimes God does choose the wise, the powerful, or those of noble birth. Unless we realize that, then in a very strange way we get a kind of inverse pride and we say, “Well, thank God, I’m not like that.” And we are soon doing just what the publican did. The point is simply this: salvation is by the grace of God. God chooses whom he will choose. God does not usually choose the wise, mighty, or noble, but God chooses the weak and the base. This is the contrast of this verse in the “But God–” series, but now, we go on to see why God does it.