One of those verses that seem to force its way into my consciousness is Ephesians 4:1.
“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” (Ephesians 4:1)
One of the greatest mistakes we make in the Church is to judge people based on their anointing or their gift for ministry. If someone is a great teacher or anointed preacher, or if someone moves in healing power and prophesies accurately, then we assume they are mature people.
(Read more about this in my blog: The Samson Syndrome: Can you be anointed while in sin?)
A Dangerous Truth
If we dissect Paul’s words here, we see a dangerous truth. He urges them to live a life worthy of the calling they have received. That tells me it is possible to live a life that is not worthy of the calling that God gives you.
When I was in Bible school, the director used to say: “If you had to choose between gifts and character, you should choose character.” He emphasized that our character level—our integrity, honesty and morality—must always stay at the same (if not higher) level as our gift or anointing level.
Sloppy Grace Helps No One
We are dealing right now with a situation in which a minister with a high level of anointing engaged in lewd sexual behavior over a long period of time. Those who should have known better, propelled him forward, excusing divorce, adultery, accusations of homosexuality and worse—all because of his anointing. One of his mentors would not give up on him because he saw the potential.
That seems compassionate until you hear the stories of his accusers. When we allow someone who isn’t living according to God’s standard for leadership (1 Timothy 3) to continue to minister, the fruit that is produced is rotten. In this situation, there is a long line of wounded and defiled people. The fact that his sin was overlooked, excused and dealt with on a surface level has only caused more division. It has produced more defilement, controversy and embarrassment for the Gospel than any supposed fruit. In other words, the idea that he must continue to preach because of the fruit has been proven false.
Does Your Life Match Your Message?
This is why Paul pleaded with us to “live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” People are watching us. They want to see if our lives match our message. Just imagine if someone came to one of my meetings and heard me preach. Let’s say they were moved by the anointing on my life, which is a gift given by God.
Afterwards,, they saw me in a restaurant being loud and boisterous, treating the wait staff with disrespect, berating my own team and then exiting without leaving a tip. Any good that took place in the heart of my hearer when I was “anointed” would be potentially, and probably, null and void because of my lack of character. They would be confused as to how someone so “anointed” could be so ungodly.
Anointing Doesn’t Equal Value
Ministers who think too highly of themselves because they are anointed are under self-deception. Your value does not come from your anointing; that is merely a gift that God gives you to carry out His purposes in this life. When you see yourself as something spectacular because of your gift, you tend to treat others with less value than your own self-perception. Remember, the very world “gift” connotes that it was given to you—you had nothing to do with it. It was free.
The key to remaining humble in light of your calling is to live a life worthy of your calling. What does that mean? Well, let’s keep reading:
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:2-3)
Notice it says nothing about moving in the gift of healing or preaching with power. It is all about character—how you conduct yourself before others. Paul speaks of humility and gentleness in how we deal with others. He speaks of unity and love, not casting out demons.
Love Before Gifts
I have always found it interesting that sandwiched between the two most powerful chapters on spiritual gifts, something I greatly believe in, is 1 Corinthians 13, which is all about love! The point is that without love or character, the gifts of the Spirit are just noise.
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-2)
What good is it to be anointed on stage but abusive to your team off stage? What good is it to have the gift of healing but wound others with your words?
Friends, let’s make a commitment to live in such a way that when people see the anointing on our lives, they say, “That person is the same way in private as they are in public.”