Definition of Character
Character is the total of personal traits an individual possesses that make him what he is. Character refers to moral qualities, ethical standards, and principles that govern a person’s conduct and cause him to choose one course of action over another. Christian character growth is based upon allowing God to develop His attributes in our personal lives.
In 2 Corinthians, Paul says:
And all of us, with unveiled faces (because we) continue to behold (in the Word of God) as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another (for this comes from the Lord [Who is] the Spirit). – 2 Corinthians 3:18 (AMP)
Character development is a continuous process in our lives and is dependent upon our constant “beholding” of the Lord through His Word. Peter also emphasizes this in 2 Peter 1:3-8:
Do you want more and more of God’s kindness and peace? Then learn to know Him better and better. As you know Him better, He will give you, through His great power, everything you need for living a perfect life: He even shares His glory and goodness with us! And by that same mighty power, He has given us all the other rich and beautiful blessings He promised; for instance, the promise to save us from the lust and rottenness all around us and to give us His Character.
But to obtain these gifts, you need more than faith; you must also work hard to be good (Virtue), which is not enough. You must learn to know God better and discover what He wants you to do (Knowledge). Next, you must learn to put aside your desires (Temperance) so that you will become Patient and Godly, gladly letting God have His way with you. It will make possible the next step, which is for you to enjoy other people and to like them (Brotherly Kindness), and finally, you will grow to love them deeply (Charity). The more you go on in this way, the more you will grow strong spiritually and become fruitful and beneficial to our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:3-8 (LB). It is clear, therefore, that Christian Character requires we constantly work at these areas of our life as we walk by faith daily. We can never become what God wants us to be on our strength – we must trust Him to produce His Character in us. But neither can we sit back and wait for this to happen spontaneously. We must work hard at obeying what God reveals to us from Scripture. Growth in Christ-like Character is a matter of allowing God’s Spirit to indwell our lives completely.
This will allow the fruits of the Spirit to become evident in our lives. (Please refer to Galatians 5:22,23 for a definition of Fruits of the Spirit). That is why the basics of the Christian life are so essential. The Word and Prayer Hands help us continue in God’s Word so that we behold God as He has revealed Himself to us.
We live in a day and age where people are recreating Jesus in their images, and their characters are affected due to their pride and arrogance. We also have a faithful enemy trying to distort God’s image so that we disobey and no longer walk in obedience. Fleshy and Christian character traits are emphasized in the Old and New Testaments – Proverbs 6: 16, 17; Galatians 5:19-21; Galatians 5:22-23; 2 Peters, 1:3-8; Matthew 5:3-12.
How Character is formed:
When God controls our lives, He produces His fruits or attributes in our characters (Thesis). But if we allow Satan to be in control, he will produce the opposite of God’s fruits (Antithesis) in our characters or a compromise (Synthesis). Either of these alternatives is less than God’s best and prevents us from becoming what He wants us to be. Every believer is a new creation in Christ, and his inner man has been born again by the Spirit of God.
Therefore, he has a new capacity to develop a character that reflects the qualities of Jesus Christ. These qualities of life are the Christian traits that we have already listed. Sometimes Christians fail to form a character that glorifies God. Why does this happen? Although our inner man is saved, our outward man is still corruptible and perishing and waiting for completed redemption. Therefore, we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, the inward man is renewed daily. – 2 Corinthians 4:16 And not only they, but we also who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for our body’s adoption and redemption. Romans 8:23
The desires of the flesh press us to allow them to be manifested through our bodies. Daily, decisions are made in our inner man—whether to obey God’s will and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit who lives within us or yield to the flesh’s desires. God created us with a will, intellect, and emotions. Satan will try to influence these three faculties to condone evil thoughts (intellect), to yield to what feels good (emotions), or to act upon what we want rather than what we know is right (will). To develop actual Christian character traits, we must not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. It means bringing every thought (intellect) into captivity to the obedience of Christ, submitting our feelings (emotions) to the scrutiny of the Word of God to see if they are in accord with His desire for us, and yielding our wills to the Spirit’s control so that we obey instantly and joyfully God’s revealed Will for us in His Word (will). As our minds, emotions, and will, are brought into the service of the Holy Spirit, who lives within us through obedience to God’s Word, the works of the flesh will not be manifest in our bodies. Instead, Christian character traits will be formed in our lives.
How to Develop Character:
- Recognize the Influence of Your Environment
Your home, parents, school, church, job, government, and friends significantly influence you. Some of that influence occurred when you were only a child and cannot be erased. However, it can be overcome by carefully regulating your current lifestyle.
2. The Holy Spirit—The Chief Agent
The Holy Spirit can transform any Christian’s life into one that will please God. Trust Him to do miracles in you. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18
The Word of God—the Chief Tool
Unless we consistently look to God through His Word to guide us in our decisions and thoughts, we can never expect continuing character growth to occur. A Christian must continue in the Word to have a disciple’s Character.
Then Jesus told those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.” John 8:31
Reputation vs. Character:
Reputation is what people think you are:
- Diplomatic (tactful, cooperative)
- Transparent (open, teachable, frank, sincere, receptive)
- Disciplined (self-controlled)
- Faithful (dependable)
- Pure (holy, godly)
- In Control of Tongue
- Innovative (resourceful)
- Neat in Appearance/Dress
- Wholehearted (driven, persevering, thorough, diligent)
- Enthusiastic (cheerful)
Character is what God knows you are.