My good friend Charlie once told me about an interesting saying he had seen posted on a church sign. It read: “God does not call the qualified. He qualifies the called.” What did this mean?
The first part of the saying reflected the Lord’s teaching at a dinner party. Jesus “saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office” and invited him to become a disciple (Matt. 9:9). The tax collector joyfully accepted the invitation and left his profession to become a follower and then an apostle of Christ. After his call, the first thing Matthew did was host a big party for his friends and coworkers.
The Pharisees criticized Jesus, the guest of honor, for associating with “tax collectors and sinners” (Matt. 9:11). When the Lord heard their grumbling, he said that “those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. […] I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (vs. 12-13). “God does not call the qualified” because no one is in the qualified category. All men and women sin and fall short of God’s glory.
The second part of the saying posted on the church sign neatly summarized Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians: “We always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his call, and may fulfill every good resolve and work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God” (2 Thess. 1:11-12). The Thessalonians were sinners. They worshiped idols (1 Thess. 1:9) and indulged lustful passions (4:2-5). But the Lord would make them “worthy of his call” (2 Thess. 1:11).
God “qualifies the called.” His overflowing grace renews the convert’s heart and mind. As a faithful disciple submits to God’s will, his character becomes more and more compatible with the holy and loving environment of heaven.