One of the areas of the Christian walk where we can gravitate to one side or the other is the area of character vs. gifting. Character is Christ’s nature being formed in us by the fruit of the Spirit. Gifting is God’s power being released through us by the gifts of the Spirit. Some believers deny the gifts of the Spirit, saying that all that matters is love and holiness. Others put gifting above character and emphasize the manifestation of the Spirit to the neglect of His fruit.
The reality is, we should not choose one or the other; we should pursue both. It is not a matter of choosing either character or gifting, but of walking in both character and gifting. This is what the apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 14:1: “Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts.” We have permission from God (and yes, even a command from God) to eagerly desire the gifts of the Spirit. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to move in God’s power and gifting; in fact, it is wrong to not want this!
At the same time, we must allow the Spirit to sanctify us and produce His fruit in our lives. Here is the tricky thing about character and gifting: a gift can be received in an instant, but fruit takes a long time to produce. As a result, it is possible to have great spiritual gifting, but be lacking in godly character. If this pattern continues in a person’s life, they can easily fall into sin and deception.
Take Samson for example. He was powerfully anointed by the Holy Spirit and used by God in amazing ways. However, he lacked the character to maintain this gifting and eventually fell. King Saul is another example of a man who was gifted by the Spirit, but did not have the character to match the gift. We have seen this happen all to often in the church today as well.
When God bestows great gifts to us, we have all the more responsibility to walk in the character of Christ; for the gifting will draw people to look to us. The greater the gifting, the greater the responsibility. The greater the gifting, the greater the level of character that is needed to carry the gift for the long haul.
I encourage you to not have an either/or mentality about character and gifting. We desperately need both! Grow in Christ-like character and submit to His ways. Be filled with the Holy Spirit and walk in His gifts and power. As you do both, the Lord will reveal Himself to others through your life!