The danger of depending on your gift.
For some months I wondered what happened to a gifted and powerful prophet, Apostle Arinze ( not his real name) and why I was no longer seeing him on television or hearing about his exploits. Apostle Arinze drew large crowds to his programs which held in open fields and in big halls. He was in demand because of his prophetic gift.
The way his fame spread everywhere you would think that he would be like that forever. You would think that nothing would be able to come against him or his gift. He seemed so invincible, untouchable and powerful.
But suddenly he stopped holding his crusades and big programs broadcast live on television. He had a series of problems which essentially shut down his ministry and banished him to irrelevance and obsolescence.
Recently Apostle Arinze was dragged to court for owing about $1million dollars and couldn’t repay the loan. He said he wanted to use the money to jump start his ministry. If you knew Apostle Arinze about two decades ago you would realize that his ministry was essentially dead.
But how could this have happened? How could somebody so successful, so powerful, so gifted become irrelevant? What happened to Apostle Arinze that banished him to the backsides of life?
The bible says that the gift of a man will make room for him. Proverbs 18:16.
The gifts and calling of God are without repentance. Romans 11:29
The fact that God does not take back your gift does not mean that the gift will last for your life time no matter how you live your life and no matter what you do.
One thing we must understand is that your morality affects the operation of your spiritual gift.
A spiritual gift, no matter how powerful it may be, is carried by and resident in an earthen vessel. For we have these treasures in earthen vessels that the power may be of God and not us. 2Corinthians 4:7
Earthen vessels are human.
Earthen vessels are weak.
Earthen vessels make mistakes.
Earthen vessels are fragile.
Earthen vessels are imperfect.
Earthen vessels can fall.
Earthen vessels can break.
Earthen vessels can fail.
The effectiveness of a gift is determined by the state of the earthen vessel within which it resides.
The strength or weakness of the earthen vessel determines the productivity of the gift. A gift in an earthen vessel is very far from perfect. A number of things could go wrong rendering the gift in the earthen vessel ineffective.
If you depend on a gift in an earthen vessel, it could disappoint you.
Paul told Timothy that if we purify and sanctify the vessel, then we will be used in an extra-ordinary way by the Lord.
So the condition or state of the vessel affects the productivity of the gift it carries. Your gift may be divine, but the vessel that bears this gift, the vessel from which this gift operates and functions is weak, fragile and human.
The fragile nature of people affects the productivity of their gift.
To think that you can live as you like but expect your gift to produce at its optimal level is self delusion. The productivity of your gift is subject to how you live your life by the word of God.
Your morality affects the productivity of your spiritual gift.
The level of your holiness affects your spiritual productivity.
All those who violate the law of purity will eventually lose their gift.
All those who place mammon above the Lord Jesus will eventually lose their gift and ultimately their calling.
God may not take back your gift but many things can happen to your gift to render it impotent and essentially useless.
A gift can be stagnated.
A gift can be sabotaged.
A gift can be hindered.
A gift can be weakened.
Your moral weaknesses can negatively affect the use and productivity of your gift. A moral failure could stop your gift from functioning and being productive.
Solomon was a wise man. His wisdom was a gift from the Lord. He was once said to be the wisest man on earth. Yet he fell and he failed. Why didn’t his gift save him from failure? He was wise. Couldn’t he use that wisdom to save himself? No he couldn’t.
Solomon’s fragile, weak human nature betrayed and sabotaged his gift. He yielded to his weakness and married 700 women and 300 concubines. The moment he yielded to his weaknesses, he sabotaged his gift, sabotaged himself, sabotaged his assignment and calling, and started falling until he failed.
One thing we were never taught is that your gift can fail you.
You heard it right.
No matter how powerful, strong, impressive, mind boggling your gift may be, it can fail you.
You are not infallible.
Your gift is not indestructible.
You are not invincible.
Your gift can fail.
You can fail if all you do is lean on that powerful gift you have.
A gift cannot sustain itself. It takes strong character to sustain your gift and your calling. If you don’t agree with me, ask Samson who fell at the hands of Delilah because of a weak character.
It is true that God will not take it back but your human weakness can become the weapon the enemy uses to sabotage and destroy that gift from functioning. When we were taught from scripture that ‘a gift is irrevocable,’ (Romans 11:29), what we heard was that a gift will keep operating and functioning no matter what we do. But this is not true at all. A gift can fail. And when this gift fails, it had better not be what you have built your life upon or else you will fail with it.
In Judges 13-16, we read about Samson. Samson had a powerful gift. With his gift he wrecked havoc on the Philistines. Even though Samson’s gift was powerful and made him invincible in battle, it was Samson’s weaknesses that self-sabotaged his gift from functioning. It was his insatiable hunger for sex that opened the door for his gift to be rendered impotent, useless, powerless. After opening up himself to be dominated by his weakness, he self-sabotaged his gift.
Samson lived as he liked, in total contravention of divine instructions but he expected his gift to always be in operation whenever he wanted it to.
He was bitterly disappointed.
His arrogance and his moral recklessness were the instruments of his self-sabotage which hindered his gift from functioning.
You cannot be morally reckless but expect it not to affect the operation of your gift. It will affect it. It will compromise it. It will destroy it.
Samson’s parents were warned before his birth and given specific instructions about what he should not touch or eat. One thing he was told not to touch was alcohol. But Samson violated this instruction by drinking wine. As a Nazarene, he was told not to touch the carcass of an animal but he took honey out of the carcass of a lion he killed. That was an abomination. But Samson did it. His moral compass was broken. He was drawn to the most broken women in society, women he should have stayed away from, those were the very ones he desired. He slept with whores and the most despicable among women, when he woke up from the bed of iniquity his gift still functioned and this made him think that his gift was invincible and he could not be destroyed no matter what he did and no matter how perverted he became.
But he was greatly mistaken.
His lack of character eventually destroyed him.
Character is what upholds and sustains the power and productivity of your gift. If we give in to our weaknesses and allow our character to be compromised, our gift would be affected and we will essential self sabotage.
Over two decades ago I worked for pastor Bimbo Odukoya. One day she shared with me something profound which has been helpful to me through the years.
She called me aside after a meeting in church and said: “There are weaknesses you have now which will not affect you at your current level in life because you are relatively unknown. But as you grow and become more successful in ministry, if you do not deal with those weaknesses now, they will bring you down in future.”
Paul gave Timothy instructions that responsibility should be given to faithful men and women of character, not to gifted men and women, 2Timothy 2:2. God is not looking for gifted men and women, God is not searching for men and women of skill. God is searching for people who hold their vessels in honour, people who have their weaknesses in check, people of character. Why was Timothy instructed to find faithful men and women and not gifted people? Why was Timothy told to find men and women of character and not gifted people?
What God needs from you is character, faithfulness to your calling and assignment. He will supply all the other things you need including the gift and ability to fulfil your calling. Character can sustain you and help you fulfil your assignment even if you are not highly gifted.
Character cannot fail.
Christ-like character driven by love cannot fail.
Christ-like character never fails.
But a gift on its own is not strong enough to sustain the fulfillment of your assignment. A gift can fail.
It is therefore dangerous to build your life and ministry on a gift. No matter how powerful, productive it may be, a gift on its own is not strong enough to sustain you on your life’s journey. You must also develop strong character to uphold your gift.
Having a strong gift could become a curse rather than a blessing because a strong gift could delude you into thinking that you don’t need character to be successful as long as that gift is working. A strong gift may make you think that the observations people make about your poor character doesn’t matter as long as your gift keeps on working. A strong gift could deceive you into thinking that all you need to be successful in life and ministry is a strong gift and you would be wrong.
A powerful gift is a dangerous thing if it is all you depend on. If anything happens to hinder that gift from operating, then you are in trouble. The moment Samson’s gift stopped operating he became a slave to his enemies.
Your gift is a blessing from the Lord and you will give account how you used it. Use your gift but build a life that does not depend on your gift alone to operate. Build a life that would work, a life that would be productive without depending on your gift.
Leadership is not about building a ministry or business around you and your gift. Leadership is developing people, building a system that delivers value without you.
When it comes to your gift, you should understand that there are people with more powerful gifts than yours. Their gifts are sharper than yours, more developed than yours, more productive than yours.
If the market is saturated with people who have your kind of gift, then you are in danger of becoming irrelevant.
There are people whose gifts can out-produce yours.
What do you do when new entrants enter your industry with sharper, keener minds than yours, and their gifts out-produce yours? You should not build your life on a gift no matter how powerful it may be.
Build your life on the strong foundation of character.
Character will outlive any gift that you have.
© Praise George, May, 2019