It is that time of year where we take a few weeks and look at a specific passage of scripture and dig in. For our Winter Bible Study this year I was thinking that character might be a good subject; the moral qualities distinctive to an individual. What are the proper character traits we need to develop as followers of Christ? What is Christlike character? Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Life is full of characters, that’s the nature of it. Each one trying to stand out, be an individual, get noticed. We remember the outlandish stories of some of our favorite characters and enjoy retelling them. That’s how many make a name for themselves. That is how we remember them.
My mind thought of two such people with the recent passing of their children; Elvis and Evil Knievel. I think they had the same tailor, I guess a jumpsuit was the thing back then. They were bigger than life and always going bigger and more elaborate to gain attention. They certainly were characters but not the type of character I want to talk about.
Moral character is something inside each of us. It is the foundation of who we are. We were created to have a certain understanding but we have corrupted that. We all have the potential to display good moral character if we choose. Therein lies the secret, if we choose.
Man tries to define what is good and what is right and it can sometimes be elusive. Different circumstances and situations may involve different ways of dealing with. What might be best in one situation could be counterproductive in another. That goes to say that there isn’t a hard fast solution in every situation, we must use discernment. That is where moral character is applied and needed.
What is the first sign we are developing moral character? When we consider the circumstances of others and their needs as it relates to life. Civilization begins when we take the time to care for and help someone heal. That is when we start to understand the world doesn’t revolve around us.
To be fair, developing the character of God isn’t easy. It is a challenging task mainly because it challenges us to put the needs of others ahead of our own. We live in a world that is increasingly self-centered. We are teaching the next generations to look out for number one, get yours first then consider what might be good for others.
Proof of that is in the age at which we settle down to build a home and family. We have transitioned from wanting to do that early in our lives, our 20’s, to not even considering it until we are into our 30’s if at all. Truth is when we get into our 30’s we have already developed a pattern that serves us and we are not sure we want to give it up.
God established the family as the center of creation. He designed the family to be the foundation of our lives. As we have migrated away from that and developed a more self-centered existence we have seen some of the destruction it causes; isolation, depression, frustration, division, and envy. Those things have started to tear apart the world we live in.
How do we move things in a different direction? We look to God for the basic instructions he gives us on how to develop an inner moral compass.
We will spend some time looking at the contrast between the ways of the world and the ways of God. The hurdle is we live somewhere in the middle. We will never be all one and none of the other. We will have good days and bad. Sometimes at the end of the day we are able to sleep at night. Other days there is no peace. That is the internal battle between good and evil. One produces peace and the other turmoil.
This passage is one we may be familiar with. We will not focus on the ways of the world, but how we can learn to reflect the character traits that produce peace, a peace God’s Word says is beyond understanding.
Galatians 5:19-23; 19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
We will focus on patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. As with many things in God’s world there is an order to things and when we look closely we will find they build on each other. Many of our weakest character moments come about when we fail to display patience.
Before we can understand patience we need to grasp the first three, Love, Joy and Peace. We talked about them in our preparation for Christmas, but let’s take a quick look again and see how they are connected. One truth we need to understand is without the presence of God we cannot hope to display these types of behaviors on a consistent basis.
Love comes before all things, unconditional love, God’s love for us, his willingness to sacrifice for us so that our sins could be forgiven. When we receive that gift the Holy Spirit resides in our heart, God’s presence, without that Joy is not possible. God’s presence produces peace, an eternal security that we belong to Him and no matter the mistakes we make we know that they will not separate us from him. From there we jump into the journey that leads to developing the character we need to display for this life to be satisfying and fulfilling.
We have embraced a way of living that is not beneficial to us. We have sacrificed peace for turmoil. We can decide to live differently. We can decide to follow God. I encourage you to come along for the ride as we develop a character that will lead to a rich and satisfying life.
John 10:10; The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.