We want to think that the Bible is a book about perfect people. It isn’t. The Word of God is a story of real people, with real faith and genuine frailties. God isn’t looking for perfect people who have their lives in order. He is looking for people whose hearts are for Him, for people He can use even though they are imperfect.
I’m constantly amazed at the people who God used to bring salvation to our world. There were murders, prostitutes, thieves and cowards. This should not discourage us. In reality, it is encouraging to know that God can use imperfect people like you and me to accomplish huge tasks.
Read on to see why and how God uses imperfect people. God has a habit of using the unlikely for the impossible. And if you are looking for a list of bible characters and their flaw, it’s right here at the end of this blog.
Who are the imperfect people God used?
Have you ever felt like you’re not good enough to be used by God? Do you ever think that you’re too broken, too sinful, or too messed up for Him to use you? Well, you’re not alone! The Bible is full of examples of imperfect people God chose to use for His purposes. Then, who are the flawed people in the Bible that God used?
Take Moses, for example. He was a stuttering shepherd who didn’t think he was qualified to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. But God had other plans! He worked through Moses’ weakness and turned him into an outstanding leader and prophet. And what about King David? He committed adultery and murder, yet was still called a man after God’s own heart. Despite his flaws, God used David to unite Israel and establish His kingdom.
In the New Testament, Jesus called imperfect people to be His disciples and carry out His mission. Peter was known for his impulsive behavior and even denied Jesus three times, yet he became a great leader in the early church. And Paul, who had previously persecuted Christians, became one of the greatest evangelists in history, spreading the Gospel to both Jews and Gentiles.
So, don’t let your imperfections hold you back! God’s grace is not limited by our flaws, but rather, He can use them to accomplish His purposes and bring glory to His name. He uses the unlikely for the impossible, and the ordinary to do extraordinary things! Because with God all things are possible.
Why does God use imperfect people?
God uses the imperfect for several reasons. First, there are no perfect people. We all have a tendency to mess things up when we are left to do things our own way. Then, He uses fallible people because they are inclined to depend on Him. Third, God uses the frail and imperfect so that others can identify with and learn from them. Finally, God uses weak and frail humans because it brings glory to Him.
There are no perfect people
God uses flawed and imperfect people because there are no perfect people. In Romans 3:23 (NKJV), we read that, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” As much as we want to follow Christ and to be like Him, we are human. Humans make mistakes. More than that, humans sin. Paul wrote,
“For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing… What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”(Romans 7:19, 24, 25 NKJV)
If you are imperfect, take heart. You are not alone.
Does God use all imperfect people?
God does not use all imperfect people. He uses those who want to follow Him and who have a heart for Him. He uses those who recognize that they aren’t perfect, but who are striving to please Him. Abraham was imperfect, but God built a nation through him because of his faith, Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” (Galatians 3:6 NKJV)
Paul, a former persecutor of the church, became one of the greatest servants of the Most High. Still, Paul wrote,
“For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.”(Romans 7: 18, 19 NKJV)
Paul was humble. He always remembered that he had worked against God’s purpose as a Pharisee and an enemy of His church. This seemed to motivate him to work harder to spread the good news of Christ.
How does God use our imperfections?
God can use our imperfections in powerful and meaningful ways. Our flaws and weaknesses may seem like hindrances, but in the hands of a loving and all-knowing God, they can become opportunities for growth and transformation. God can use our imperfections to humble us, to refine our character, and to teach us to rely on Him more fully.
When we are willing to surrender our imperfections to God, He can use them to bring about good in our lives and in the lives of those around us. As Paul wrote,
“And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”(2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV)
For a variety of reasons, God uses the unlikely for the impossible.
1-God uses imperfect people because they have to depend on Him
Moses wasn’t excited about going to Egypt to free the Israelites. He was a murderer, and he had a speech problem. He might have even been a little bit insecure. This was good because Moses depended on God to help him as he confronted Pharaoh and as he led a nation out of captivity.
Moses didn’t run ahead of God. He followed his Lord. God reminds His servants that, ”My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV)
2-He uses imperfect people because we can identify with them
I don’t know about you, but I sometimes feel that I am not worthy to serve Christ. I can make a mess of things if I try to serve Him in my own power. It helps me to know that Paul wasn’t perfect either (Romans 7:24). I am encouraged when I read Christ chose to build his church through bumbling, impetuous Peter (Matthew 16:18), or that he allowed timid Timothy to lead an early church (2 Timothy 1: 6-8). If these men can serve the Lord, so can I.
3-God uses imperfect people because it brings glory to Him
I remember a picture of a sign that my son sent to me when he was in Thailand. It told a story of a false god. The aim was to glorify this god. As I read the story of this god, I had to laugh. He was unbelievable. He was supposedly so perfect that no one would ever believe he was real. Anyone who believed in his validity would cower before him.
Our God is real, and He is willing to work with real people. This makes Him much more relatable. I can believe in a God who understands and relates to my imperfections (Hebrews 4:15, 16). Our human imperfections highlight His great power and ability to do anything it takes to save us.
God uses imperfect vessels Scripture
While the exact phrase “God uses imperfect vessels” is not found in the Bible, the concept is certainly present throughout its pages. One example can be found in 2 Corinthians 4:7 (NKJV), which says:
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.”
This verse speaks to the idea that we, as humans, are fragile and imperfect vessels, but we carry within us the treasure of the Gospel message. It is not our own strength or abilities that make the message powerful, but the surpassing power of God.
Another example can be found in 1 Corinthians 1:27-28 (NKJV), which says:
“But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the [base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are.”
These verses emphasize that God often chooses to work through those who are weak and despised in the eyes of the world in order to show His power and bring glory to Himself.
List of Bible characters and their flaws
If you are wondering who are some of the imperfect people God used, open your Bible and you will find many. Both the Old and the New Testaments show who are the flawed people in the Bible that God used.
Here is a list of Bible characters and their flaws:
- Abraham was old and a liar. As a matter of fact, he betrayed his wife more than once because he feared someone would kill him and kidnap Sarah. Poor Sarah! (Gen 12:10-20; 20:1-11). Still, God used him to build the nation of Israel. It saved all people through one of Abraham’s descendants, a “son of Israel” named Jesus Christ.
- Moses was “slow of tongue” (Exodus 10:14,) and he was a murderer. He disobeyed God and struck a rock in anger. He forgot to give God the glory for causing water to come from that rock. (Exodus 20:10 -12) God used this imperfect man to lead His people out of Egypt and to the promised land (Ex 3:9-10; Hos 12:13), to give us the ten commandments, and to write scripture – the Pentateuch.
- Rahab was a prostitute who trusted God. She defied the king of Jericho and hid the Israeli spies so that they could conquer that city. (Joshua 2)
- Our Lord called David, a faithful sheep herder, to be the second king of the Jewish nation. Dave was far from perfect. He was an adulterer and a murder (2 Samuel 11). To his credit, David was also humble. When he came to terms with his crimes, he sincerely repented of his sin. Look at the beautiful words he wrote in Psalm 51:10-12 (NKJV) “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”
- Gideon was fearful, but God used him to deliver his people from the Midians. (Judges 6:14). Gideon shows us that God can use the least likely of us to accomplish the impossible. The Bible verse that shows God uses the unlikely for the impossible is in Judges 6:15-16 (NKJV): So he said to Him, “O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” And the Lord said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man.”
- Jesus used a Samaritan woman, an infidel who had divorced 5 times, to share the news of redemption with the people in her town Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” (John 4: 39 NKJV)
- Jacob cheated his brother out of his birthright, but God used him to build the Israelite nation (Genesis 27). Through Jacob, the promise God gave to Abraham continued. This was the promise that Abraham’s descendants would be a great nation and would bring salvation to all people (Genesis 28)
- Peter was impetuous (Matthew 16:22, 23; John 18:10–11), and he denied Christ three times (Luke 22:54-62). Nevertheless, Peter believed that Jesus was the Messiah. Jesus used him to build the New Testament Church (Matthew 16:18)
- Matthew was a tax collector. Jesus called him to be one of his 12 followers. (Matthew 9:9) He turned out rather well. This is the Matthew who wrote our first Gospel.
- Paul was a pharisee who persecuted Christians… until God got hold of him. He never forgot the work that his Heavenly Father completed in him. (Acts 9: 1–19) Paul labored tirelessly to spread Christianity across the known world.
- Last, Timothy was a favorite of Paul. (2 Timothy 1: 6–8). He was a man of sincere faith. He probably believed as a child. His mother and grandmother modeled strong faith. Timothy wasn’t perfect, though. Paul had to remind him that, “The Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. “That Paul told Timothy to take a little wine for his stomach and for frequent illnesses leads me to believe that he might have been a nervous person. (1 Timothy 5:23). Despite this, God used Timothy greatly.
Apart form this list with from ‘ordinary to extraordinary Bible characters’, there were many other imperfect servants of our mighty God who accomplished great things through Him. Our God was big enough and wise enough to help them fulfill His purposes.
What is God calling you to do?
We all have our flaws and imperfections, but that doesn’t stop God from using us. He uses the ordinary to create extraordinary things. What is God calling you to do? Do you feel inadequate? Don’t worry; God qualifies”
“… being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”(Philippians 1:6 NKJV)
If you follow the Lord in humility and in obedience, the things that He can do through you will be limitless. It is amazing what a little faith can do.
Prayer to be used by God despite our imperfections
Dear Lord, I come to you today with all my imperfections, flaws, and weaknesses. I recognize I am not perfect, but I know you can use even imperfect vessels for your purposes. Please help me trust in your power to work through me, despite my limitations.
Father, I ask that you use my weaknesses for your glory. Help me see myself as you see me – as a beloved child of God, worthy of your love and grace. Guide me in the path that you have set before me, and give me the strength and courage to follow it, even when it feels difficult or impossible.
Lord, I know I cannot do anything on my own, but with you, all things are possible. Please work through me to accomplish your will and to bring glory to your name. Thank you for your grace, your mercy, and your unconditional love. In Jesus’ Name, I pray. Amen.
GUEST AUTHOR: Sharon Shoemaker
Sharon Shoemaker was born and raised in Maryland. She came to know Christ as a teen. She began writing short stories, devotionals, and poetry as a young adult.
Sharon is a published poet, blogger, and worship leader. Sharon considers her faith and family to be most important to her. If she isn’t spending time with her friends, family, and her dog named Toby, she is writing a new thought found during times spent with God.
You can find Sharon’s blog at Sharonroseblog.