CHARISMA OR CHARACTER?

Which is more important, the fruit of the Spirit or the gifts? The Corinthians did “not lack any spiritual gift” (I Cor. 1:7), but they sure were immature. They couldn’t get along, were immoral, and were taking each other to court. Don’t think I would join that church. Maybe we can learn from our charismatic friends on the Grecian seacoast and experience authentic church. To do so we…

DON’T PREFER THE GIFTS OVER THE FRUIT.

The charisma of leaders may blind us to the lack of character. We need to fly with both wings, the supernatural character of Jesus (the fruit) and the supernatural ministry of Jesus (the gifts).

So we do as Paul said and we “follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts” (I Corinthians 14:1). To vote for the gifts over the fruit, as the Corinthians did, produced dissonance, “a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” Gifts without fruit produces childishness. Gifts are tools, not toys, but my tools were the toys of my children as toddlers.

DON’T PREFER THE RESURRECTION TO THE CROSS.

Look at the advertising of conferences in charismatic magazines and see what they are broadcasting: powerful signs and wonders, healings, impartation. Wonderful! I have never read, “The power of the cross will be evident,” but that is what Paul majored in. We need both, as Paul made clear: “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings” (Philippians 3:10). But Paul did resolve to know nothing ”except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (I Cor. 2:2). We favor strength to weakness–and we get what we ask for. Paul chose weakness, and he experienced the power. How would he advertise a conference in our city?

DON’T PREFER PROPHETIC WORDS TO THE PROPHETIC WORD.

Peter wrote, “And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place” (2 Peter 1:19). The surest prophetic word comes straight from the Word of God and from the greatest of all prophets, Jesus Christ. If I am hankering for a now word but not planted in the eternal Word, I am thrown off balance. We are urged to seek after the gift of prophecy, but that very urging comes from the Word that is “forever settled in heaven.”

DON’T PREFER THE SPRINT TO THE MARATHON,

the short-cut to the endurance run. Hearing about the promise at a conference of impartation, I am both blessed and cautious. I do know that gifts, healing, and empowering can be given through the laying on of hands, but let’s be careful not to promote the quick fix or the fast-food blessing because that is what people want, or we short-circuit the way of the cross. When Peter tried an end run around the cross, Jesus delivered the strongest rebuke that disciples had ever heard. Simply put, no shortcuts exist. Charisma can come fast. Character takes years.

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