By and large, we live in a merit-based society. While there are some exceptions to this general rule, most of the time success requires merit. The largest college scholarships are given to those who have the best grades and test scores. Usually, employees are hired to work based on the merits of their resumé or their ability to interview well. Once hired, promotions are usually only given to those who, through their merit, have earned them. There is nothing wrong with this system in society—it usually results in overall fairness and it rightly rewards hard work.
Thankfully, God does not operate on a merit-based system! God saves us “not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5 ESV). If salvation were based on merit we would all be lost because, “None is righteous, no not one” (Rom. 3:10). Even if we always perfectly did everything God ever asked, we would still be “unworthy servants” (Lk. 17:10). Thankfully, by God’s grace we all have the opportunity to obey and be saved (Heb. 5:9), but we can never earn that salvation by our own merit.
Even though we are not saved by our own merit, sometimes, because we live in a largely merit-based society, we think that we can only serve God if we are smart enough, strong enough, rich enough, etc. The truth is, no matter how poor our “resumé” might be, God can still use us! Paul told the Corinthian church, “not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong” (1 Cor. 2:26-27).
Being useful for God is not based on merit, it’s based on faith! As long as we are willing, He is able. No act of service for Him is too small and no weakness of ours is too weak that He cannot display the power of Christ through us (2 Cor. 12:9). Trust Him and serve Him and the blessings will follow!