January 18, 2018 • Life for Leaders
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
Did you know that you’re a saint? Now, you may not feel like much of a saint. But, from the perspective of Ephesians, you are indeed a saint. Allow me to explain.
In common English, we use the word “saint” in several different senses. Saints are unusual Christians officially recognized by the Catholic church. They are NFL football players from New Orleans. And they are people who have shown exemplary dedication in some good deed. For example, in reference to a woman who faithfully cares for her aging mother, you might say, “she is such a saint.”
Ephesians 1:4 shows that God chose us to be “holy” (hagios in Greek). This reiterates what was said in the letter’s opening, which was addressed to “God’s holy people” (a form of hagios). The word hagios in Greek is usually translated as “holy” or “saint.” Saints are, by definition, God’s holy people.
But what does it mean to be a holy person, a saint? From a biblical perspective, something is holy when it is set apart for God and God’s purposes. For example, an animal to be sacrificed to the Lord is holy because it is designated for this special function. In Exodus 19, God set apart the Israelites as his own “treasured possession” (19:5) They would be a “holy nation” (19:6) through which God would make himself known to the world. In the New Testament, believers in Jesus Christ are referred to as “saints” or “holy people” because they have inherited Israel’s divinely-conferred status as people set apart by God for him and for his saving purposes.
If you have put your faith in Jesus Christ, then you are a saint. You are a holy person. This does not necessarily say anything about your worthiness to receive this title or your exemplary lifestyle. Rather, you are a saint because God has chosen you to belong to him and his people. God has set you apart so that you might participate in his creative and redemptive work in the world.
So, yes, you are a saint because God has chosen you to belong to him and to share in his work. What a wonder! What a calling!
Something to Think About:
When you hear the word “saint” or “holy person,” what do you envision?
Do you think of yourself as a saint? Why or why not?
Do you believe that God has set you apart for himself and for his mission in the world?
How do you see yourself as sharing in God’s mission through your daily work?
Something to Do:
At the end of the day, take some time to reflect upon all that has happened during the day. In what ways have you lived out your sainthood?
Gracious God, it is amazing to think that you have set us apart for you and for your mission. Thank you for choosing to enter into relationship with us and to engage us in your work in the world.
Help me, dear Lord, to live out who I am as a saint. May I see my whole life in light of the fact that you have set me apart for yourself and your work. May I live distinctively, reflecting your presence and values in all that I do.
Preserve me, Lord, from being puffed up, thinking that my sainthood has to do with my goodness or accomplishments. Rather, may I live humbly and faithfully, knowing that I belong to you because of your grace. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
Christmas Scriptures: Little Saints: Matthew 2 Sermon Notes
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.