Character is fueled by the power of the Spirit empowering us so we can model the character of Christ!
Philippians 4:8; Heb 11:32-38; 2 Peter 1:5-11
The demands for people of character are more needed then ever before. Our culture does not value it, yet it insists on it. Just watch the news and see how the reporters attack people with no character, even though they may not have it themselves. The recent attacks on the Catholic Church are a prime example. Priests are leaving the church by the dozens--most by unfounded accusations. Just having a rumor against you will cause you to lose your position. A year ago, Enron was celebrated because of is business practices. Today, it is loathed because of the same practices. Once before, they worked. Now, they do not. Therefore, character once absent was not sought. Once not needed, it is now needed and sought.
Character comes from our Sanctification which is the growth we have and do, in Christ, in our trust and obedience. That He provides this is not saving action, it is a response action where we become more like Christ's character. True Sanctification (His Part) is surrendering ourselves entirely to the Holy Spirit, to have His way working in us. Consecration (our part) is being (Gal. 6:14) dedicated to God's service. A bold determination to be interested in only what God is interested in. Usually total surrender requires a crisis to unbalance our lives because we tend to be hardheaded and not yield to God's leading. God will bring us to the point that He requires of us and if we ignore His subtle nudges, be aware; He will use a more severe means to get our attention. So, what do we do? Well, it is simple, or so it seems, to rely on Christ absolutely first and foremost in your life. When Christ takes hold of your life, the course changes to match His will, or so it should. Our life is no longer our own for He is LORD. What this means is our will and desires must be put off and surrendered to Christ! And the biggest and best most fantastic journey will enfold in your life. I personally cannot imagine living any other way. (John 3:30; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 2:1-10; Luke 24:26; John 15; 17:2; Phil. 3:10; 1 Thess. 4:3; Heb. 2:10).
- Have you realized that your debt has been cleared, your sin has been covered, and your dread has been replaced with wonder and eternity? Then, how has it affected your life? Do you obey His call and precepts? Does this transformed life impact others around you? Do you "get it" that everything you are is because Christ is in you? If not, why? What is in the way? Are you willing to go on your knees to seek His face and His righteousness for your life? Without it, you have nothing but debt and sin!
- Paul's will was conquered with a sense of gratitude and indebtedness to Christ, this fueled his faith and character. Are you totally submitted to God's ways? Do you feel indebted, or do you feel owed (1 Cor. 6:19-20)? Being "poured out" means to take the focus off yourself and place it on others, as Christ did for us. Paul spent his life to express it! Jesus gives us the ultimate example of being poured out (Matt 26:28; Rom. 5:5)! Our response is John 3: 5; 30; Rom. 1:15-17; Phil. 2:14-18!
- Paul's will was also conquered with a sense of gratitude and indebtedness to Christ, this too produced his character. Are you totally submitted to God's ways? Do you feel indebted, or do you feel owed (1 Cor. 6:19-20)? Being "poured out" means to take the focus off yourself and place it on others, as Christ did for us. Paul spent his life to express it! Jesus gives us the ultimate example of being poured out (Matt 26:28; Rom. 1:15-17; 5:5)! Our response is John 3: 5; 30; Phil. 2:14-18!
- As a pastor, I realized long ago that people tend to sometimes forget my teaching, but they will remember how I handled things.
- Character speaks for itself. We never owe people an explanation or excuse to be the person that God called us to be.
- It is the moral, virtuous, spiritual foundation that holds the frame of our actions and the siding of how we are to others.
- We earn it through self-surrender. It does not lie on the shelves of the store for us to buy.
- Character is supported from truth that reinforces the life and actions we are called to emulate.
- It has to be cultured, like yogurt or cheese, which is not made fresh from the cow.
- This is the quintessential essence to our being successful people, in business or in the church.
- There are few lessons that are more important for us to learn, or for us to teach.
- Charisma and image are more of a value to our society as we observed in recent presidential elections. Character was considered irrelevant in the previous administration or in the election. Fortunately, character won out this time.
- The people who impact us the most and best are those with Biblical character.
- We can still have friends who do not have good character as long as we are their influencers and not their receivers!
- Our closest friends must have good character and represent the truth, because they will be influencing us.
- We must be willing to be humble enough to allow character to slowly develop in us, as it will not come overnight. This is working out our salvation in Philippians 2.
- All of the people in Heb 11 are imperfect, yet have great character of different professions and times. Lot was stupid, Moses was a murderer and failure, Rehab was a prostitute, some were mocked, tortured, stoned, sawed in two (Isaiah), tempted to compromise, wounded, homeless, and lived in cave. All were whom the world called "losers." Just read "Fox's Book of Martyrs". Could you see yourself listed here, counted as having faith and character?
- Character is like exercise. We cannot just get fit with occasional sweat and the 'burn', because we have to be constant, as it is with anything in the spiritual life.
- The essential presence of character will influence how we react in times of stress and confusion.
- Instead of blaming people for our hardships, we need to learn and grow, enabling us to receive character.
- We need to stop looking for approval from society, and seek His approval. Character will be the fruit of that endeavor!
- You must allow character to speak for you more than what your friends say to you. Friends are vocal, and character is silent!
- Character will flourish later when we build it up early.
- Churches and parents must teach and model character.
- We have to be able to admit when we are wrong, to confess, grow, and go from there. This will allow us to grow the fastest and strongest.
- Through all of God's creation, we are the prize piece, and the means to model His ways.
- You may need to have some kind of character to be in public life, especially in politics. You may lose a job or election because of it, or be considered a failure in the eyes of the world. However, in God's eyes, when you remain in His character, and learn from His precepts, you are a winner.
- Real character will not cave in under pressure, and will resent the temptation to compromise!
Real authentic character is being surrendered to Christ and allowing His work to grow and in rich you, so the Spirit flows. For character is God's love in and to and through you! Are you willing to reduce yourself down to merely "ME"? Are you determined enough to strip yourself of all that you are in the world, in your career, ministry, church, including what your friends think of you, and what you think of yourself? Are you willing and determined to hand over your true self, your simple naked self to God? Once you are, then He can begin to work greater in you and in others through you. Christ will immediately sanctify you completely, and your life will be free from being distracted from His character and precepts. To be determined and persistent toward glorifying God, Christ as our Lord (I Thess. 5:23-24)! You can start by surrendering to Him in prayer (Gal. 2:20-21; Phil. 1:6; 3:10), "Lord, show me what sanctification means for help me live as my life is yours." He will show you! Sanctification means being made one with Jesus. Sanctification is not something Jesus puts in you it is Himself in us (II Cor. 1:39).
John tells us that He must increase and we must decrease (John 3:29-30). If we refuse this vital call, God just may allow those hardships to come our way, breaking us down so we will yield and grow as His child. Just as a good loving parent will discipline his child, we, too, will receive discipline. But, this is not a personal attack; rather it is a way we can grow and be better used by our Lord (1 Cor. 1:30; Col. 1:27; 1 Thess. 4:3; 5:23-24; 1 Pet. 1:5). We have to be willing to be identified with Him no matter what the cost, as the rewards will be far greater than we could ever imagine! So, are you willing to reduce yourself to the real you? The person as you are called by Jesus Christ to be? So that He is greater in character and precepts in your trust and faith, and in your obedience and application of life? And, so you become less in your will, aspirations, lust, and sin? If not, what is in the way of God working in you?
Let us use our lives for His glory so we point people to Christ with passion, integrity, and consistency!
© 2002 R.J. Krejcir Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.com/