GIFTS & RIFTS

     This is a reflection on human character. Now everyone likes gifts, and it seems that God has bestowed/endowed most all folks with something extra in some area of talent. Athletic talent, musical/singing voice, personal charm, math wizardry, mechanical, etc. But scripture does explain the natural gift phenomena. “He has given gifts to men . . ." (Ephesians 4:8) A lot of church denominations put an emphasis on spiritual gifts. Now is there another side to this “coin?” 
     I believe there is a balance in nature at all levels & I ask, Do people have foul gifts also? Something like inborn rifts of character from an early age? “Even a child is known by his actions.” Proverbs 20:11 We were in a McDonald’s restaurant yesterday in Hawaii April '14 where a young lady was blowing her RAGE & profanity LOUDLY in the manager’s face because of some fault with her sandwich. As she left passing close in front of me I noticed a black eye – probably from an earlier scrape with someone else. We sat down to drink our coffee only to notice a young man at the next table who obviously thought he was a female. (The Aloha & Mahalo islands have people problems too.) Now Christian theology teaches that people need to be lifted/redeemed from the natural “unsaved” human condition (Acts 4:12.) Fine & good. But I suspect that even after God’s cleansing touch of salvation we still have residing in our character some raunchy natural “gifts of slime.” But I don’t blame God for their origin – they are the product of a fallen world.
    There is a place in the Book that sheds light on this. “I suspect there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, selfishness, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder.” 2 Corinthians 12:20 Other references mention much worse “rifts.” And could there be an un-holy spirit that hangs around people & cultivates their natural bad traits or fallen instincts? (If it’s not so, then we have to re-write the New Testament because it’s full of encounters with evil spirits. Read any couple of pages & you will see info on demon activity & their products – character rifts & chaos. Especially in the four gospels where Jesus Christ is interacting with people.) Even so, we are still responsible for our actions. “The devil made me do it” could be true, but he is not prosecuted yet. And as for the on-going debate whether born again Christians can be possessed by demons; I think not, but they can be oppressed by them, and residual bad traits can sometimes flare up.
     People who care & desire to live above the sins of humanness can be discouraged. (Myself included.) So what can we do? First, admit that negative traits are natural. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 1:8 Second, realize that the purpose of life in general is a character test (Acts 17:26) which is a serious proposition from God himself – it’s supposed to be tough down here.  Third, maybe God wants us to be humbled by our stubborn character roots (& demons?) so we can be more usable by Him in the long run. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 Fourth, don’t give up. Quitters lose by default. In some races just crossing the finish line “warm & breathing” is a success. “Fight the good fight of the faith.” “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil & he will flee from you. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. . .” James 4:7-8 
    Finally I’d say, true repentance & acceptance of Christ’s salvation generally gives folks power to enhance their good gifts & suppress their bad ones. See also “Roots” link 31. “But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God;”  John 1:12   Choose Jesus.   He is alive.  See also "Dragons of The Mind" link 185.

Many other Titles: www.gospelnotes.net - Link 1 is Index                                        * * F. J. Stone * *