It’s so easy to cling to temporal things instead of the eternal. People are looking to me… they want me to “produce”… to DO SOMETHING to validate my position, my salary, my authority to lead the church or ministry.
This drives me to feel the need to perform… to demonstrate my gifts in operation in my ministry and in the gatherings… to minimize or hide my failures and mistakes… to use learned information “prophetically” in order to impress someone that I’m really “hearing from God”… to emotionally stir up a crowd in order to cover my own emptiness and lack of ability to bring about any genuine encounter with God’s real manifested presence and power.
This may also compel me to take on a title before my name to firmly establish my place in leadership. Thus, people will keep repeating my title every time they say my name. It feels good. It has the subtle effect of cementing my job security against all questioning and challenges and reminds people of what I do… even when it may not be evident (2 Cor 11:13).
The truth is that all my righteous deeds are like filthy rags (Is 64:6); and that nothing good dwells in my fleshly, sinful nature (Rom 7:18). Jesus told the Pharisees: “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15).
Yes, DETESTABLE! It’s nothing more than dead works (Heb 9:14) and it’s wretched before God! “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Prov 14:12). How different from Paul’s example, when he says: “Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me” (2 Cor 12:9)!
I must never substitute the temporal for the eternal. Temporal means that it cannot and will not last. It’s earthly, carnal, natural – unable to replace that which is lasting, that which is genuine and eternal and that will never fade away.
The eternal bears “fruit that remains” (John 15:16). This kind of fruit is rooted and grounded in relationship with God. It’s NOT manifested in the gifts of the Spirit alone. It’s not even a matter of my character or my calling, but of deep intimacy with God alone. I may be able to prophesy and bring deliverance and perform healing and miracles (Matt 7:22-23), but will He say to me, “I NEVER KNEW YOU”?!
Am I in relationship – KNOWING HIM – or am I merely performing to validate my ministry or leadership position before men? Am I relying on His presence, earnestly praying that He’ll just “show up” to exalt Himself, or am I building my own kingdom, supposedly in the Name of Christ, while operating out of my own pride and a complete focus on myself? “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30)!
Many people in ministry today are functioning in spiritual gifts and some manifestations of the Holy Spirit without the eternal fruit that is born out of relationship and intimacy. I spent many years in very effective, very productive ministry before learning this vital truth. Though there was fruit, it seldom remained, because it was temporal – not eternal. O, the years I wasted!… and it grieves my heart.
In his book, Translating God, Shawn Bolz writes: “Our ability to manifest spiritual fruit depends on our union to the Holy Spirit, not our gifts or skill level. Real gifting that builds the Kingdom comes from deep love. There will be a great distinction in the days ahead between inspired gifts (gifts that come from this abiding or resting intimacy with the Holy Spirit) and gifts or skills that operate just by the grace of how we were designed. This is why Paul said God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable (Rom 11:29). We will always have the tools that God designed us to use, but whether these tools are connected to His power and nature or just the power of humanity is up to us.”
We must learn intimacy with God and we must always place our highest priority on knowing Him. When we KNOW Him, we will be like Him. God is Love… and I can also become love, having been created in His image and yielding to His loving nature. I would never violate my relationship with Him for the sake of building influence or impact in my ministry. Out of intimacy of relationship alone comes the love and presence and power of God to accomplish signs and wonders and miracles. I must be willing to sacrifice even my own spiritual abilities and accomplishments and reputation, that only the eternal, lasting fruit of that relationship will remain.
Paul wrote: “I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of KNOWING Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, THAT I MAY KNOW HIM and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.”
Anything else is a counterfeit anointing… it’s all dead works. Even though I may mean well, only what is born out of intimacy in relationship with Him will last and will count in my daily ministry… and when I stand before Him, someday, when He says: “Well done, good and faithful servant! Enter into the joy of your Master!”