“Many are called, few chosen.”
Who are chosen? What does it mean that only a few are chosen? Why does God only choose a few? How do I know if I am chosen? What is God saying to each of us in this statement? What can or needs to be done to be available to be chosen? Obviously, this succinct expression was designed to give life rather than cause anxiety or confusion. So it is necessary to ask for help: “Holy Spirit, open up this truth and help us receive it.”
It is always wise to go back to the context of these words. In Matthew 20 Jesus is talking about the master who goes looking for laborers and several different hours of the day. He hires those who are available. Finally near the end of the day he finds some whom no one has hired so he also sends them into the field. There is some jealousy among the early workers about the last ones being paid the same as the ones who worked all day. However, the master does pay the first workers exactly what both he and the workers had agreed, so it is up to him how much he wants to pay the last workers and he tells them so. Then the parable finishes with the words, “Many are called, few chosen.”
From the parable the master is looking for laborers and readily hires those who are in the marketplace ready to work. He doesn’t even make a distinction between those who show up at different times. It makes sense that God has called each of us to be a part of His body and that he has specific tasks for each of us to do (Ephesians 2:10) “which He has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” However, the point of the story seems to be how do we get ourselves in a position to be “chosen.”
Most people spend the majority of their lives concerned about their job, their finances, their relationships, their pleasures, and many other facets of daily life. People get preoccupied with the busy-ness of life and take little thought of a higher purpose for their lives. Even Christians rarely consider whether we are preparing ourselves to be chosen. Who is God looking for?
According to the statement in Isaiah 66:2 “But on this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word,” He is looking for those who humbly acknowledge their need, are genuinely repentant for their wrong choices, and who show respect for the authority of God’s word.
God is an awesome powerful God and yet He delights to show mercy and is looking for those who know and trust His merciful love. In Jeremiah 9:24 God delights in those who understand and know Him, as the one who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness in the earth. Furthermore, Psalm 147:11 declares “The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy.”
God is faithful, and likewise puts high priority on faithfulness. In Jesus’ parable about the talents, He demonstrates that he who is faithful in little will be given much and enter into the joy of His father. Luke 12:42 reveals that God will bless the faithful one by making him ruler over all that He has.
Why would God choose you? A clear answer of His purpose is given in John 15:16, where Jesus assures each of us, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.” The purpose is to glorify Him with a fruitful life that depends upon God’s continual answering of your prayers.
Finally in Colossians 3:12-17, the word summarizes how God desires the “chosen of God” to respond. “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love…let the peace of God rule in your hearts…let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom…singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord…and whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”