The work of the Holy Spirit in us (part 2)

von Johannes Justus

A well known equation runs: “Charisma minus character equals chaos.” Without a character shaped by the Holy Spirit one cannot be spiritually convincing in ministry. Therefore the Holy Spirit first wants to work in us before he can effectively work through us.

The character of a human being is certainly influenced by his or her upbringing and hereditary factors. However, this should never be taken as an excuse to avoid necessary changes. To be a Christian involves being open to change that God wants to work in uns. He intends to turn our indifference into love, our wrath into gentleness and our indiscipline into self-control. Paul makes this clear when speaking of a life in the spirit and listing nine divine character traits (“fruit of the spirit” in Galatians 5:22).

The character of Jesus

Some exegetes call these traits the character of Jesus Christ. I believe they are right. If there ever was a person who perfectly embodied these qualities it was Jesus. No one else could ever make this claim. In this sense, Paul calls on us to “put on” Christ (Galatians 3:27, Romans 13:14). It may sound somewhat simplistic, but just as I decide every morning to put on certain clothes, I should daily choose to “put on” Jesus Christ. Thus, the development of personality and character is also a matter of making intentional decisions daily.

Leading by character

Viktor Frankl once said: “Everything you have can be taken away from you, but what you are nobody can take away from you.” The character is an indicator of the inner size and the riches within a human being, by which he or she will inevitably influence his or her surroundings. Over the years of my ministry I have come to realize that personality is one of the most important tools of a spiritual leader. God’s method are people. Above all he works through personality, not through programs, concepts or talents. In other words: The man or the woman is the message. Not what I say, but what I am is what people receive. Those who want to influence their environment and lead others should first and foremost do so through their character.

Personal integrity

With a character shaped and minted by the Holy Spirit one will not only win the hearts of others, but also safeguard one’s own heart. Only if thoughts, words and actions are in harmony, one will be at peace with oneself. Personal integrity and authenticity will protect us from a double life, which would sooner or later lead to a dissociation of our personality and the destruction of our ministry. Thus, the people who continually work on their character do the greatest favor to themselves. It is so good that God has not left us alone with this task, but has given us the Holy Spirit. He wants to work in us. If we actively desire and allow this, God can influence, shape and mould our innermost being according to his will.

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