Jesus said that we can know the credibility of a ministry by their 'fruit', not by their 'gifts' (see Matthew 7:15-23). Gifts of the Spirit, as well as natural talent, are important but they are no evidence of a holy life. In fact, gifts can deceive us as to the true nature of a person. That's why character is to be the foundation of all ministry. 'Who we are' (fruit) is more important than 'what we can do' (gifts).

The interesting thing about gifts is that God gives them and doesn't take them back. Read this comment by Paul when writing to the believers at Rome …

"For God's gifts and his call can never be withdrawn." [Romans 11:29-30. NLT]

That means that a person can still continue to minister with the gifts God has given to them even when their character is not right. That's pretty scary because it enables people to abuse the grace of God – for a time.

In the Old Testament, Samson was anointed by the Spirit and was able to do great exploits as a result. He continued to use his gifts even though he had developed an uncontrolled problem with sexual lust. However, in time, his lack of repentance ended in his downfall (read Judges 16).

God is gracious and he gives all of us time to repent. His judgment on sin is not always immediate. He is long-suffering and patient. We don't immediately reap what we sow. This can lead to deception, thinking that what we've done or how we're living doesn't really matter to God. But it does.

In a letter to the church at Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29), Jesus mentions a woman named Jezebel who was in the church. He had given 'time to repent' of her sexual sin, but because she hadn't, judgment was coming her way.

"People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy." [Proverbs 28:13. NLT]

Let's value the gifts God gives to us BUT let's remember that a gift doesn't mean we are a godly person. It simply means God gave us something. It is a stewardship – a trust given to us to be used for building God's kingdom and for his glory. Let's continually surrender to the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit so that his fruit may be seen in our daily life – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). 

Maybe God is challenging us at this time to become better fruit inspectors and to not be so enamored with gifts.

14 thoughts on “Fruit and Gifts

  1. Excellent message Mark. Thank you for your godly wisdom and balanced teaching.
    1 Thessalonians Chapter 5:14-22 NKJV, says:
    14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. 15 See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.
    16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
    19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies. 21 Test all things; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.

  2. Has this whole Mike Gug saga opened our eyes to something the media has cursed us with for years, or is it just because Mike was a fellow believer that we find it so much easier to forgive the man?
    So many times we can watch either the news or a dreaded show, not mentioning any names (Today Tonight), and condenm and judge people that have not made the best decisions. I am not one to justify what people have done as ok, and to be considered acts that should be forgotten… but why is it that a pedophile like Dennis Ferguson can remain in the news for weeks and topics of forgiveness and prayer for this man are as rare as hay fever in winter.
    I am not condemning the church for their actions. It has amazed me the way the church has been able to grieve over the Mike G. situation and still offer up prayers and forgiveness to a fallen man. This is just a reflection of my own steps in the mundane and the way I separate secular and spiritual. Was it only because Mike’s confession effected the church, my world, that the night I heard I went to bed sorrowful and prayerful in spirit, yet only a few nights before that the dreadful news of the Georgia Crisis made its ways to the news and I continue to move through life as normal.
    In a way, have we conformed to the rest of the world in saying that it is ok to judge and manipulate people’s stories by agreeing and feeding ourselves media that makes me catch myself ready to throw the first stone? It can only be my prayer that the positive and loving way we have responded to Mike’s exposure can also be shown upon others and see the world and even the media through the same eyes that Jesus does.

  3. That is really good reflection, Harry. I think as Christ followers we have to be so careful of not adopting dualism into our thinking.
    Also, stuff like this displays values: When US experienced a terrorist attack it was in the news for weeks (and rightly so, it was awful), however the genocide in Dafur, the calamity in Ethiopia hardly makes it into our media, or even our prayers. Thought provoking stuff.

  4. Thanks Mark for this and all your posts which stretch, challenge and encourage us. The 28th of August was 45 years since Martin Luther King’s famous “I have a dream” speech in which he talked about a country where his children would be judged not by the colour of their skin but the content of their character. As a father when I think about my own children my greatest desire for them is not whether they are good looking or “successful” etc but whether they are people of integrity. We know our Heavenly Father feels the same way about us. May our Church and the Church around the world be increasingly overun by people of integrity!

  5. PS
    Thought I’d drop a note in about AOG leadership and integrity…
    Just dropped into Phil Bakers Blog. There is an ad for the olympics on ABCradio posted that is rather gratuitous and that no pastor should ever include in a blog.
    So I’m wondering if leadership ever learns from events like the Mike G sham?

  6. Thanks Pastor Mark. Mike G. has helped me to quit watching pornography. Healer will always be a reminder or what Mike has gone through. I’m sorry I had to learn my lesson from such an unfortunate event. I pray that God will be Mike’s strength, his shelter, his salvation, his healer. In response to such an event, what would Jesus do? He would forgive – and that is what we should find in ourselves to do. It’s never easy. after all, Jesus went through calvary to forgive us of our sins.
    God bless Pastor Mark, Mike and all you guys.

  7. He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. ~ Daniel 2:21 NKJV

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