Too often, Christians focus on gifts — natural and supernatural — and overlook character. But it does not take into account the basic principle of the Christian life: gifts and abilities - no matter how beautiful they are - are either limited or perfected Christian character. In this regard, John Blattner, in his book Growing in the Fruit of the Spirit, describes character as a multiplying factor:
He (character) multiplies the effectiveness of our gifts, for both good and evil. If you give a spiritual gift to a person of ordinary character - let's put it one point - he is more likely to use it appropriately. The same gift in the hands of a person with a stronger and better formed character - say, five points - will be five times more effective.
Of course, this principle can work in other ways as well. You may remember from your math class at school that any number multiplied by zero equals zero. Even impressive and flamboyant talent is wasted if the character of the person who uses it is weak. In this case, of course, we get "negative numbers". This reflects the detrimental influence of a talented individual who uses his gifts for distorted purposes.
I believe this phenomenon is widespread among Christians. In fact, it was a big stumbling block for me to get into the power of the Holy Spirit. One of the main reasons I used to refrain from speaking in tongues in the past was that many of the people I met who spoke them did not like me!
Gifts of character as body ornaments. Fine jewelry - jewelry, smart clothes, etc. - look good on a beautiful body. But when the body is unkempt and already unattractive, there is almost nothing you can do to fix it - even decorating it with jewelry, perfume, dressing up in beautiful clothes - it still does not look the way it should.
It is the same with spiritual gifts. They need to be a decoration for a well-formed character, which is the basis for their correct use. Thus, we must seek first the fruits of the Spirit and then the gifts of the Spirit.
An important feature of the fruit is that it grows through a developmental process that culminates in maturity. The fruit does not ripen in one day; it goes through a developmental process that combines both internal factors (its genetic structure) and external factors (water, soil, temperature) to reach maturity.
It's the same for Christians. We also go through a character-building process during which the fruits of the Spirit ripen in us. With the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, we have a “genetic makeup” that reflects God's nature. But repentance for sins alone is not enough for Christian maturity. Therefore, we must be willing to patiently submit to the discipleship process and actively contribute to it, realizing that there are no shortcuts to maturity.
We are often impatient with this process and look for ways to shorten it. I often meet people who are trying to reach maturity through "magic" or "form."
Undoubtedly, such people want something real. They seek happiness and fulfillment in the Christian life. But they have not yet learned how to equate self-realization and the completion of the growth process.