Trusting God For Our Promotions

Acts 1:21-26
21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” 23 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

After the resurrection and ascension, the eleven apostles discerned from the Scriptures that another person needed to take the place of Judas, the one who betrayed Jesus (Acts 1:20, Psalm 109:8). Jesus had intentionally chosen twelve disciples and this carried significance. Twelve corresponded to the number of tribes within the nation of Israel, connecting this new covenant work to the old covenant. Revelation 21 describes the new Jerusalem as having twelve gates with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel inscribed on them and the walls of the city having twelve foundations with the names of the twelve apostles. Clearly, there were compelling reasons to bring on a twelfth apostle.

Two men were brought forward who had been followers of Christ from the beginning of His baptism and could testify of His resurrection. Lots were cast and Matthias was selected to the office of apostle. We don’t know much about him but it’s likely that since he had followed Jesus from the beginning, he was one of the seventy-two who the Lord sent out to preach about the kingdom of God (Luke 10). But other than this recorded selection, we never hear Matthias’ name mentioned again in Scripture.

Barsabbas was the other man brought forward who wasn’t selected. I wonder how Barsabbas felt when he was passed over for this role. Was his heart pounding with hopeful anticipation as the lots were cast? Did his heart entertain any jealousy towards Matthias? Did he subtly lobby that they do two out of three tosses? Being passed over can be one of life’s thorny challenges. Many deserving people have been passed over for promotions, awards, and recognition. Even in ministry, Christians can get overlooked or passed over at times. Why was I not asked to lead? Why was so and so given the opportunity when I could have done a better job? Why didn’t anyone express appreciation for my efforts?

The Lord’s timing and the Lord’s promotions rest in His wise counsel. Matthias might have wondered why he wasn’t selected as one of the original twelve and Judas of all people taken instead of him! Yet his faithful obedience eventually led to his promotion. Barsabbas remained faithful as well. He became a trustworthy and outstanding elder in the Jerusalem church and is mentioned in Acts 15:22 as one of the delegates sent to Antioch to represent the apostles and elders and their decision regarding how Gentiles were not obligated to follow Jewish customs.
Much of our character is formed when we are asked to do the little things. Household chores like doing dishes, folding laundry, cleaning up after your puppy may seem like mundane things, but your willingness and faithfulness to doing them can prepare you for greater things if you allow them to. The same goes for our work environments. Do you volunteer to do the things that others feel are beneath them? When people think of you, do they think of someone who is helpful or someone who is easily bothered by inconveniences?

Jesus told the parable of a master giving ten of his servants ten minas each (a mina was about three months wages for a laborer).  Those who brought back a return were commended and given authority to rule over a number of cities (Luke 19:11-27). Similarly, in another parable, servants entrusted with a measure of talents (a talent was worth about twenty years wages) and showed themselves to be faithful, were entrusted with even more authority. Both of these parables speak of promotion to greater things after faithfulness with lesser things. While we need to trust the Lord for our promotions, our faithfulness in our current responsibilities can be the proving grounds for those very promotions we hope for. Interestingly, both parables depict money, even large sums of money, as the less valuable things. Jesus specifically called this out when He said in Luke 16:11-13:

'11 If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? 13 No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.’

Will you remain faithful to the Lord even during those seasons when you feel passed over? Are you o.k. with living in obscurity as long as God is being seen and glorified? This doesn’t mean you should never volunteer for a leadership position but always remember that the Lord gives us our promotions in His timing. Our responsibility is to remain faithful with what He’s already entrusted to us.

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