Christian character traits are robust, unlike the world’s frail moral values.
In Part One 0f this article, we looked at several reasons to call Christian character traits robust:
We ran out of time as we were about to consider:
- Regaining Robust Character Traits – how can we regain strong moral values?
We can regain a great measure of robust Christian character traits, but we can’t begin until we meet one big qualification. We must be authentic Christians. By that, I mean people who have turned 180 degrees away from sin to serve God with the whole heart.
Men and women who are not that kind of authentic Christian may achieve a degree of success in building the world’s frail, counterfeit moral values. However, they will never regain the robust Christian character traits under discussion.
Furthermore, even authentic Christians will not regain them without diligent labor. Only those who are willing to labor can build these Christian qualities into their own lives. Can they build them into the lives of others for whom they have a measure of responsibility? No. Each person, young or old, must do character building personally. We can instruct. We can give the tools with which to build, but we cannot do the work for them.
Let’s examine that work.
Christian character trait building involves a staircase of three steps: understanding, desire, and action. Each step leads to the next, and you dare not skip a step if you wish to reach the goal.
UNDERSTANDING is step one. You must acquire a full understanding of each authentic trait. That understanding must come from God. You will not find it in a dictionary, but you will find it as you search the Scriptures.
God tells us in I Corinthians 13:13 that the greatest trait of Christian character is love. Go to a secular dictionary, and you will read a definition something like this:
love verb \ˈləv\
- to feel great affection for (someone): to feel love for (someone)
- to feel sexual or romantic love for (someone)
- to like or desire (something) very much: to take great pleasure in (something)
“love.” Merriam-Webster.com. 2011. http://www.merriam-webster.com (23 October 2014).
As you study God’s Word, you will learn that love as a Christian character trait does involve great affection for someone, so we can use that first point in our understanding. However, that is the only point we will use. The fact is that you can exercise the Christian trait even without liking the person very much or taking pleasure in the person!
A good definition of the Christian trait adds to great affection a determination to do what is best for the object of our love, even when it demands personal sacrifice on our part.
Further study of love in God’s Word yields magnificent examples, the greatest of which is the Lord Jesus Christ who said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:12-13) That is love as a Christian character trait.
Each Christian character trait must first be understood in the light of God’s Word. Once you are satisfied that you grasp God’s meaning, you are ready to move forward.
DESIRING is step two. You must foster a strong desire to build a specific Christian character trait in your life. You must rely on God, who gives you the desires He wants you to have. “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)
How do you create desire for a specific trait?Pray that God will plant the desire in your heart.
- Test the desire to be sure it comes from God.
- Assure yourself that you can build it with God’s help.
- Keep notes of Bible figures and other Christians who built the trait successfully.
- Find a Christian friend with whom you can share the desire.
- Close your eyes regularly to visualize what it will be like to have built the trait.
Once you can almost taste the trait of love (example), you are ready for the final move.
ACTING is the third step. By that, I do not mean the kind of acting done on a stage. You must take action in a consistent, conscientious manner to build the trait. It will not be accomplished in a single action. It will require ongoing, sometimes grueling labor.
As in sports or attempts to master a musical instrument, you must practice. You must practice day after day after day – hour after hour after hour. You must make regular practice of the trait as much a part of you as your career. It must become habitual.
Record your progress in the way that best fits your personality. Accountants might keep a spreadsheet – writers might keep a journal. Acting faithfully will make the trait a part of you.
I am convinced that those who are serious about building the strong Christian character traits God ordained can, through prayer and perseverance, achieve a high level of success. Perfection will have to wait for our glorification in Heaven.
Copyright © 2014 by Elizabeth L. Hamilton. All rights reserved.