Home > character, holiness > >Getting the foundations of our character right

>Getting the foundations of our character right

>I came across Charisma earlier this year. Though the name Lee Grady seemed familiar, I had not read any of his material. He is editor of Charisma magazine and writes a blog Fire In My Bones. In his post Are You Ready for a Holy Ghost Building Inspection? he addresses Paul’s admonishment to build with materials that will not be destroyed when tested by God. As part of that Grady emphasises character. While I think Paul is probably implying that what one does and teaches should be in line with God, the call to godliness is an important one. Specifically Grady points to 4 areas of character that he perceives are important in the current climate. They are sexual purity, financial integrity, Christlike humility, and theological soundness. I will quote from his post quite extensively (although out of order).

Sexual purity. It should go without saying that church leaders must live in moral and marital faithfulness. Yet when we look around today we find that ministries are tolerant of flippant divorce, hidden adultery and even unspeakable perversion. Some ministers admit to serious moral failures yet they never step out of ministry even for a week to get counseling. God has issued His clear warning. Ministries that tolerate sexual sin are already crumbling. It does not matter how big your auditorium is, how massive your television outreach, how many people shout during Sunday sermons or how enduring your spiritual legacy may seem. You can preach about God’s grace all you want, but you are trampling on that grace if you continue to practice immorality.

Paul argued that such people should be rejected from the church till such time that they repent. Further, restoration is to fellowship, not necessarily ministry.

Financial integrity. Jesus drove the greedy moneychangers out of His temple with a whip. He requires faithfulness of His stewards. Ministries that have committed spiritual extortion will have a day of reckoning—not necessarily with the IRS but certainly with the heavenly Auditor. Those who sell prophecies or charge $1,000 to gullible people to make them “spiritual sons” will soon lose their platforms. Those who misuse God’s money to buy Bentleys, vacation homes and expensive clothes and shoes will soon experience the Great Repo.

Peddling the gospel is a great evil. I have no intrinsic problems with people being wealthy. I don’t even have problems with ministers who happen to be wealthy. I have no problems with people who do God’s work being supported by others. But receiving the honour of others is very different from asking for money, selling the gospel, or manipulating people with promises of blessing. If you happen to think God blesses (financially) those who give of their financial resources (a questionable claim), then best you encourage people to give to ministries other than your own.

Theological soundness. We can walk in humility, integrity and purity and still fail if we mix error with truth. We must preach Christ and Him crucified. We must contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints. We must guard the flock from deception and avoid the subtle lies and compromises that creep in from our culture and from occult influences. In segments of our movement today, charismatic theology has been diluted with New Age spirituality, universalism, pop psychology, Gnosticism, false prophecy and just plain weirdness. We need to reactivate the neglected gift of discernment and get rid of the theological hay and stubble that has caused our movement to lose its credibility.

It is encouraging to hear the call from charismatics for sound theology. While their emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit is helpful and needed, this does not need to come at the expense of sloppy, or worse, incorrect, theology.

Christlike humility. We cannot build God’s house with pride and carnality. In the early days of our movement God winked at our immaturity—but we have no excuse today. Mature leaders should act like servants, not rock stars or mafia bosses. We must trade in our entourages and high-minded demands and return to the way of the Master—which includes the manger (humble beginnings), the donkey (a humble ministry style) and the towel (serving those we are called to lead). God resists the proud, and any church that embraces the bless-me gospel of egotistical charlatans will not enjoy His manifest presence.

Self awareness is not necessarily pride. But we need to think of others more than ourselves. Paul called himself the least of the apostles.

It seems that when it comes to ministry, the call of God is what many people focus on, possibly more so in Pentecostal circles (though I wonder about this tendency in liberalism). While this should not be minimised, we are not to dismiss what God is doing. And the belief of ministers that God is using them should not remove them from self scrutiny. In fact, they should probably be even more self-examining than others.

I think we are called to show respect to those over us, but this does not allow them to be immune from criticism. And criticism against a minister is not refuted by referring to God’s anointing on his life. It may be that the complaint is unwarranted, and such person is answerable to God for speaking thus, but the response is to leave the issue to God or to refute the specifics. Claiming anointing status that makes one untouchable is the defence of scoundrels.

Further, having a true anointing of God does not make one immune to fault. God chooses who he wishes. He is able to use a donkey. Look at the examples of King Saul, Eli, and Balaam. Balaam is quite instructive as despite God using him to bless Israel, his love of money meant that he encouraged Moab in enticing Israel to sin in a way that would lead to their judgment. Thus Balaam’s end was destruction.

Categories: character, holiness
  1. 2009 November 29 at 23:36

    Solid post. I’m shocked that the (an)editor from Charisma magazine made those statements.
    I truly hope it would touch the hearts of the readers, and some of those that have been on the covers, and have subscriptions to the magazine.
    Also, your interaction with the brothers thoughts were on point. Blessings.

  2. 2009 November 30 at 13:03

    The sexual purity one is by far the hardest one to commit to in this day and age of opportunity being everywhere.

  3. 2009 December 5 at 04:56

    Hi Donald, Thanks. I am quite impressed by Grady, he has told other leaders they need to be open to scrutiny and has taken flak for it. I should probably read him more often. My theology is charismatic (non-cessationist), though I don’t always agree with Pentecostal expression.

  4. 2009 December 5 at 05:01

    Mike T, very much so. Whereas it seems previously one had to search out material, one now has to consciously avoid it.
    I am reminded of the parable of the wheat. The West may not face quite the persecution of the rocks (well as much as other brothers around the world), but they definitely have to fight the weeds of money and distraction and pleasures.
    Thanks to Jesus who has conquered the world and whose Spirit can win over our flesh.

  5. Mrs. Pilgrim
    2009 December 14 at 23:02

    Bethyada, even Pentecostals don’t always agree with each other. *smile* The movement has, unfortunately, a strong tendency to fall into heresy, partly because the Experience carries a powerful emotional component to it, and it’s easy to lose sight of the intellectual component.
    It’s also partly the same issue that the Church at large has: plenty of people claim to be Christians, but aren’t really.

  6. 2009 December 16 at 03:40

    Hi Mrs Pilgrim, I wonder whether the emotionalism makes some less discerning.
    I also wonder if some of the appeal of cessationism is a reaction to charismaticism gone astray. But I think the correct response is to repair charismatic belief, not reject it.

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