There are few subjects more important, and so misunderstood, in the walk of faith as the relationship between gifts and character. How we balance God’s gifts and character we have will impact our lives; either positively or negatively.
The contrast between gifts and character
Wanda and I often discuss the great contrast between the left and right hand of God. I know it may seem strange, but there is an important truth that lies buried here. As we’ve grown in our understanding, we’ve learned that on God’s left hand are all the gifts and talents that He gives to all people. On God’s right hand is the character that forms when one renounces ‘self’ and embraces the lessons of patient endurance after genuine salvation.
There is a vast difference between the gifts God gives and the character He forms in us if we walk with Him.
The gifts of the Holy Spirit have been with us ever since Jesus’ resurrection. At first, these gifts from God’s left hand were a blessing to aid the early disciples. This allowed them to overcome language limitations and boldly proclaim the message of the resurrection. (Acts 2:2-6)
Since then, however, the ‘self’ nature in man has corrupted these gifts, so they promote the gift recipient over the gift giver; Jesus. Gift holders twist the message and the gift to extract privilege for themselves and betray God.
Sadly, because of uncrucified believers filled with ‘self,’ the gifts of Holy Spirit have become a clown show to the world.
The purpose of gifts
The perfect gifts God gives are without cost. The Holy Spirit freely gives gifts to His people without repentance. (Romans 11:29) God does this because He knows the gifts will help mature the body of Christ into adult sons. Many believe the Father sent the Holy Spirit to give us His gifts, but that is not true.
Jesus made it clear what the Holy Spirit’s job is in John 14:26. “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” The Holy Spirit’s job is to testify of Jesus so we can follow in His example and become like Him. This is the Holy Spirit’s only goal; to mature believers into adult sons and daughters.
The gifts from God’s left hand, are solemn and powerful tools to help us grow into maturity.
Getting rid of the 'self' nature
Success of the gift however, rests on whether our ‘self’ nature is being brought to death. If not curbed the ‘self’ nature will misappropriate God’s gifts to further its own agenda. The cunning and deception of the ‘self’ nature blinds the gift holder, and the one receiving ministry, to the worm of death that has crawled in.
We have watched with great sadness as many believers with great gifts squander their gifting because of lack of character. These believers saw their gift, or gifts, as more important than getting rid of ‘self’.
There is a dangerous lie in the body of believers that says the Holy Spirit’s gifts are more important than character. This is akin to saying the wrapping paper is more important than the contents inside. This is a very dangerous deception for God cares a great deal about our character.
God knows the how we are to exercise His gifts in the proper manner; and promoting ‘self’ is not the right answer.
The value of character
What God wants in His people is character; specifically, the character of Jesus as manifested in a mature adult son or daughter. When people think the ‘goal’ is to ‘minister’ or ‘use’ the gift or gifts God has entrusted them with, they missed the point.
God longs to produce the character of Christ in us; but as long as we aid the fugitive from justice, ‘self’, we will not use His gifts in any way that honors Him.
Trying to help others with a God-given gift when ‘self’ is in control, is much like trying to smell the color of the letter 8.
There is another aspect to God’s left and right hand we see in Matthew 25:31-46. Just as God’s gifts are in His left hand and character in His right we see at the final judgement people will be separated to these two sides as well. Those on His right hand understand the need to crucify ‘self’ so that Christ’s character matures in them.
Bowing low in humble obedience they accept the cross so they could be like Him in His suffering. To these disciples the gifts of God are less important than God Himself. This difference separates those on God’s right from those on His left. Instead of seeking what they could ‘get’ from God to promote themselves, those on His right hand are looking for an intimate relationship with Jesus.
Properly valuing gifts and character
The gifts at God’s left hand are for the earth; and like all things on earth, these gifts will pass away. At God’s right hand is fellowship for eternity; an intimacy that is unequaled. God’s presence is so precious that we cannot compare Him to His gifts. For our family, we have no other desire but to be in full union with Jesus. He alone is worth everything we sacrificed.
I call on those who read this to see past the gifts and talents to see Jesus. Move past your gift or gifts to the Giver and get to know Him. Lay down your ‘self’ in obedience to His lead and let Jesus form His character in you. If you do this, I promise that the reward from His right hand will be far greater than any gift you could receive from His left hand.
Homer and Wanda