Character vs. Gifts
“You, therefore, must be perfect [growing into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character, having reached the proper height of virtue and integrity], as your heavenly Father is perfect." -Matthew 5:48 When I first joined a particular church, I was struck by the fact that they didn't care what I did. Don't get me wrong - living righteously and doing things with excellence was definitely a part of the church mentality. But it was more an issue of heart than how well I could perform. But through the process I realized that a lot of my self-esteem had been built on how well I could accomplish something - it had been built on my gifts. This resulted in a weaker confidence in who I was as a person, because often, I was mediocre at a lot of things. As I continued to hang around people who encouraged me to be the person I was, the person I was becoming in God, all of those petty insecurities began to melt away. It didn't mean that I wouldn't encounter setbacks, difficulties, and pains, but it meant that God was strengthening me on the inside, so He could use me on the outside. Many times we believe that people only love or accept us for what we can do versus our value as a person. In the world, this is true. But in the kingdom, this is a false pretense. "For God so loved the world..." He is no respecter of persons. We are saved by grace, through faith. Sometimes we can live on the other extreme where works are not important, or works without excellence are not as vital. But it begins with the heart. It begins with love. God calls us to do things with excellence. But He is also about bringing us closer to the person he intended us to be: free from worry, shame, doubt, fear, oppression, anger, and all the things we struggle with in our humanity. It doesn't mean that we won't experience those things. But it begins operating from the heart, from our character, and this sets the tone for everything else that we do. When we grow in our abilities, it may be that our gifts make a way for us, but it's been said that it's our character that can keep us there. Who are you? What kind of person has God made you to be? Let God encourage you in your character today.