We are called to be careful how we live. People will be watching us wherever we go; how we are, and what we are will be scrutinized. Therefore, we must strive to do our best, so our Lord is represented with excellence through us. Even if we never do wrong, we may be accused of wrong. However, character always triumphs because it convicts those who do not have it. They will see Christ through us, but we have to remain firm in our trust and obedience in Him. Others have the option to believe in Christ, but the key may be in how you remain faithful to Him as His witness (1 Peter 2: 11-12)!
We are to act nobly to others in spite of how they may treat us. We are to watch our conduct by working out a biblical character. This is formed by our growing faith as well as a balance between exhibiting holiness and setting boundaries from potential harm. In Peter and Paul's time, Christians were accused of being cannibals because of the Lord's Supper, of being disloyal and atheists because they did not worship Caesar (John 19:12), of causing civil unrest (Acts 16:16-24), of being hateful because they did not participate in pagan practices (Col. 2:16), of teaching that slaves are free (1 Cor. 13:13; Gal. 3:30), and of being antisocial (Acts 15:29). Thus living honorably, even in the face of oppression and enticement is paramount, as the Epistles tell us. This is a call and challenge for us to see the world differently so we can respond in kindness and virtue. The world, with all of its lusts and evils, is not to be the place of our identity or the place in which we want to be enveloped; rather, it is to be the place we are to influence.
We can be influencers even if we are being influenced from the wrong areas and guidelines. Our guidelines come from the character and teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ. If they come from any place else, our thinking is influenced, and thus, all we think and do becomes inclined toward the negative. Then, we become the carnal Christian who repels people from the Lord, giving the message that Christ is not sufficient or adequate.
We are on a journey in life. Basically, we are not made for this world; we are made for eternity. We are here on this earth to live and learn, to experience and grow so we can personally and passionately know Christ and make Him known to others. We do this best with our good character and virtue, seeking Him, so all that we are (as in our will, thinking, heart, and direction) is permeated by His care and call. This all comes down to how we are in this world and that all we do is to be glorifying to God. When we are lined up to this, then our conduct is honoring to God and others.
Character only comes from our submission to God, which produces love, kindness, gentleness… This happens when we are changed by what He has done. You have to ask yourself, "Am I doing this? If not, why not?" When we profess Christ as Lord or make a public testimony, we are declaring that Jesus Christ has a hold on our lives¾from now through eternity¾that transcends human understanding. We are no longer of this world, but belong to Him as His child¾saved and redeemed. This is the start of our personal relationship with Jesus Christ as not just Savior, but as LORD over all, over our desires, needs, and plans. This is imparted to us though our intimacy with Him (Psalm 15; 36:9). True intimacy with God is not found in our feelings, works, deeds, the saying of creeds, or even by having the right theology in mind, which is important. Rather, real, true intimacy is a deep affection and knowledge of Christ that is generated by our heartfelt devotion, commitment, and trust. This is, in turn, demonstrated by our willingness and the action of moving forward in our journey of faith.
We can learn more on this character and apply it better when we give careful scrutiny and conformity to the will of God; His work in us forms our obedience, dependence, gratitude, and then submission to what He has clearly revealed in His Word. Remember, this comes from our heartfelt worship of Him first!
The Bible calls us to a higher level of excellence than that of others around us¾one of truth, love, honesty, and functionality. This is His Fruit of the Spirit and Character in action; it is the implementation of His Ways in the practice of our daily Christian lives. We are adhering to His rules, morals, and principles (Zech. 8:16-17). This means we, as people of the faith, will place character, without excuse, ahead of our ambition and will. Most of all, we will have the focus to glorify God and not our circumstances or ourselves. In so doing, we will be doing the right thing all the time with no guilt or fear and nothing to hide. So, we do what we say we will do from the practice of God's Truth and Character that He has for us. We must be willing to do this regardless of our comfort, convenience, challenge, or controversy¾without excuses. (In addition, to do what is contrary to His Word and say we must do it because we said we would for integrity's sake is also evil). His ways give us meaning, and leading a righteous life gives us satisfaction.
We become a Christian by the work of the Spirit. But, our maturity in Christ and how we practice our faith is determined by the choices we make from the conviction and confidence of our beliefs. We choose to take the faith He gives and make it more real and effective. We choose to make the right choices or not, so we have no excuse when our life is messed up by neglect or poor choices. Yes, we have forgiveness and grace, but we are still left with a life that could have been so much more. So, we have to make the determination and be willing to align our lives to His Word and precepts so our behaviors represent who we are in Christ. After that, we need to be more conscious of the decisions we make, both large and small, without the compromise of solid ethics.
First look up the Character in an concordance or Bible dictionary and read the passages associated with it. Or you can use our Character Bible Study series that list the passages along with questions and commentary. Now ask yourself and then God in Prayer, or in a small group or mentorship setting:
- What is the definition of this Character?
- Is this character working in me?
- How do I now exhibit this character in my daily life?
- How should I exhibit this character?
- How can I use this character to develop a better willingness to respond to others-especially to the ones I love-with a since of awe, and fear of God, and respect for people?
- What blocks this character from working and being exhibited in me?
- How can I make this character function better, stronger, and faster, even in times of uncertainly and stress?
- What part does this Character play in your relationships with fellow church members, friends, coworkers, and family?
- What issue is in your life that would improve with more of this Character?
- Think through the steps you would take to put this character into action in a specific instance, or, to improve it. Consider the examples from the passages in God's Word.
Then remember the real buiding of Character is not just knowing about the Characters or the Fruit of the Spirit, it is the building of your faith, your learning and application of God's Word, your prayer and devotional life that exhumes and exhibits the Godly life that shows a Christ Character driven life!
To achieve more intimacy with and function for our Lord, we must be willing to take a look at ourselves to see where we are and on what foundation our lives are built!
So, let us, without regret, lead lives that are worthy. Our call is to do as we teach, to do as we say, and to act as we teach others to act. Integrity is of the utmost importance for the Christian (Exodus 8:28-32; 1 Thess. 2: 10-12)! Why? Because God is righteous and just, and wants us to be our best in this area, too. The reason the Pharisees are equated with hypocrisy is that they were worshipping not the God of the Jews and the Law, but a made-up god that suited their own thoughts, schemas, and pride. They also covered truth and integrity with their hidden agendas and deceit (Psalm 103:1-14; Matt. 23; 1 Tim. 3:2-7; 1 Pet. 5:10)!
We have to see the magnificent aspect of what Christ has done for us. We need to see the joy (Rom. 5:1-11; James 1:2-4) and the hope (Heb. 6:18-19) we are given. This is foundational to life and liberty. Without hope we cannot persevere in life effectively as we would give up and become captivated by correction or oppressed into drudgery. This hope gives us the road to drive our maturity and spiritual growth on. As we go though life we learn and when we learn we grow and when we grow we develop character and hone and improve our worship of Christ. This builds our personality and lets us be used better in the lives of others. Our character and what He is doing in our lives is our true treasures. And this richness is so much more tangible and impressive than what the world offers. To take this hope to new levels and apply it with passion and conviction, we have to see who we are in Him. We must be careful that our faith is developed from God's nature and not ours! This hope will not just fuel our liberty but also our worship. Because we praise God for what He has done. Do you realize what He has done in you?
The fuel that will enable us to maintain our Character is our understanding of "fullness." This is knowing who we are in Christ, and what He did for us on the Cross-that we are complete in Him! Then, we can be better able to comprehend that the Word of God is our authority. All you do, as a Christian, is a response to what He has first done in you. Couple that with the application of His Word, and it will instigate the right mark and practice of our behaviors. This is our Character in action.
We are called to stay away from evil desires because they will entice us and lead us away from His loving and best plan for us. When we are thinking in a wrong or dysfunctional way, it affects all we are and all we do because our lusts fight against our very soul! Our relationships, how we treat others, and how we proclaim God's Word through our attitude and lifestyle all stem from how and what we are thinking. Our thinking must come from the precepts of His Word. Our opinions, judgments, outlook, and approach to life and people need to come from the heart of a will that is bought by Jesus Christ.
The willingness to model Christ's character is far more vital for us today than the willingness to just preach it. God want us to be authentic-not pretentious¾because we are the Bible that non-Christians read (2 Cor. 8:9)!