There is a subtle shift from condemnation to conviction, from worthless to unworthy, from gift to anointing. For years I suffered under condemnation and I am so excited and blown away to see how Jesus lifted condemnation off of my life and replaced it instead with conviction. Until He set me free I couldn’t imagine what it felt like to walk in this freedom; I don’t think I even understood that it was possible. I equated condemnation with guilt and since we are all guilty of sin before the Lord (Romans 3:10), I thought it was normal to feel how I did. But condemnation takes your guilt and grinds it into your very soul, making you feel worthless, no good, a failure and a disappointment. Condemnation says, “you’ll never be better than this!” Our guilt does not have to lead to condemnation though when we are in Christ, because when He went to the cross for us, nay even before that, before the world was formed God had His plan in mind (Ephesians 1:4) and He had removed condemnation and replaced it with His forgiveness and loving kindness through the plan of the cross. Jesus already knew all about us (Romans 5:8) and that is why He endured the cross, not to condemn (John 3:17) but to justify. Our guilt is meant to convict us in the light of His holiness and compassion. When we feel worthless that is condemnation from Satan, for Jesus considered us worthy to die for. We are valuable to God, we are His children; the reason for His suffering is that He saw value in us and could not leave us to suffer the consequence of our sin. We are not worthy of His sacrifice but that does not mean we are worthless! There is nothing we could do to deserve His grace, but our worth and value are inherent in our very being: for we are made in the image of God. (Genesis 1:27)
When we see ourselves rightly and made right(eous) through the blood of Jesus (Romans 5:9), we also start to perceive the subtle shift between our gifts – those things that God has given us as a talent – and His anointing on those gifts. When we use our gifts and talents in our own strength, we can build on them, strengthen them, improve them. We may even be able to make the world sit up and take notice, receiving accolades, awards and earthly praise. I feel sorry though for the one to whom these successes come, either easily or through their own effort and exercise of their gift. It deceives us into believing in our own strength and abilities when the Bible clearly tells us that without Christ we can do nothing. (John 15:5) Let me clarify, we can do nothing of eternal value. We can be deceived into thinking our efforts and work here are producing results that are valuable but God knows that only what we do through Him will remain. We can work and exercise our talent to great worldly acclaim and recognition only to find ourselves standing in a heap of ashes when we come face to face with the One in whom all things hold together. For God will try our works by fire, to see if they are straw and stubble or gold and silver. Anything that we do on our own, for our own reward and glory will be burned up, leaving us with just a useless pile of ashes. (1 Corinthians 3:11-13; 13:3) What we do through His anointing and for His glory will withstand the fire and emerge purified, an offering for Him. While I am starting to see some of the talents and gifts that God has given me, I am so glad that none of them are good enough to impress the world. I know that I am wired in such a way that if my gifts were acknowledged by the world, I could easily be swept away by the excitement and recognition. When I humble myself to seek God first and His righteousness, I am aware of His anointing on the gifts He has given me and it makes me careful, allows me to see that anything I produce that would cause people to praise, is not of my own doing but is orchestrated by Him for His glory, so that I can tell the only story worth telling, His.