An important feature of the Framework to Life and what will be an integral part of the content of the book is character. Character is important because it makes up who we are as beings and what people see on the outside. Most important, it is what God sees in our hearts as we live for Him.
Achieving success as you live for God’s purpose is no easy task and requires certain qualities. Qualities such as strength, courage, and perseverance are easy and quick to remember when you are talking about achieving success. The qualities I am referring to, however, are those of conduct which a lot of people tend forget about during times of struggle or in the heat of the moment. Most of the time life can get so busy that we easily forget about God’s Word and how He wants us to conduct ourselves. The more time we spend away from scripture, the more we separate ourselves from Christ. When I went through the Armor of God series last year, I mentioned that the only weapon we have is God’s Word which the Apostle Paul referred to as the Sword of the Spirit. Just like any sword used for battle, knowledge of God’s Word must be maintained and sharpened consistently. Our mind is what takes the knowledge of God’s Word in, before it is inscribed into the tablets of our hearts. Having consistent knowledge of His Word will keep us sharpened so we do not forget the principle values that we must strive to live by every day.
For this article I am listing a segment of scripture that relates to Godly character and conduct as a reminder for all of us. Everyone knows the fruits of the Spirit which Paul presented in Galatians 5. If you have not read Galatians 5 then I highly recommend you sharpen your sword over Paul’s words. Also read Colossians 3 for extra sharpening of character.
The segment I want to discuss is coming from the Old Testament in the Book of Psalms. Particularly Psalm 15 which is titled “A Psalm of David”. This Psalm is about a person’s character as they dwell with the Lord. As you walk with the Lord throughout your life, do you exhibit the kind of character He wants you to project to the world? By looking at the character traits written in this Psalm, most of us can say, this looks pretty simple. But, think about how you conduct yourself during times of hardships and struggle. Do these character traits suddenly get thrown out the window?
I simplified each character trait from chapter 15 for easy reference and mixed in three different versions: NKJV, NIV, and ESV. When I read scripture I normally go through different translations to get a better understanding of God’s Word. Read through these traits below and ask yourself if this is how you conduct yourself as a child of God. If not then lets get to work. For me personally, I can say I have my weaknesses and I also have work to do.
Look at each character trait listed below and think of a recent time where you might have failed to meet one of the standards listed. Also, think about a time where you feel you exhibited this character. Its good to study God’s Word so we can see where we may fall short and see where our strengths are when it comes to personal conduct.
In Matthew 5:14, Jesus tells all of us to become the light of the world. As believers in Christ, we shine our light by displaying acts of righteousness and good deeds so others may see that and come to glorify Christ themselves. That is what we hope for!
As a Christian, we don’t see this as displaying acts, we see it as just living a life for Christ through Christ like character.
What you shine upon the world is based on the character you developed through the principles you choose to live by. Your character needs to grow everyday by reading God’s truth. As you stay consistent in His word you will notice your character transforming toward the kind of person God wants you to be.
Ephesians 6:15 (NIV) “and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.”
As you know by reading the whole armor of God, the Apostle Paul is telling us how we need to suit up for spiritual warfare. In Ephesians 6:15 he is telling us we need to be fitted with readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. To be ready in the sense of spiritual warfare means to be mentally and emotionally willing to battle with peace in our heart. How can a soldier in battle have a peaceful heart with intent to destroy their enemy? So having a peaceful heart in a spiritual battle means that you have a full understanding of God’s Truth. As you consistently read and listen to God’s Word you realize that the enemy is already defeated through your faith. If you know that you are already victorious through Christ, then why have anguish and fear through the many battles in life? The more you absorb scripture into your heart, the more fitted you will be with God’s Word. Paul uses the word “readiness” along with being “fitted”. Once you have the gospel fitted in your life, it is time to prepare and be ready for battle with peace of mind. Peace in Greek means rest and quietness, so in other words you can say the gospel of peace is our good news of rest. Rest, as in resting our soul and letting Jesus Christ handle the issues of spiritual warfare. Throughout life we all have issues that we struggle with. As I mentioned in my previous post regarding the pillars of sin, these issues can be those pillars that the enemy has built up within us. Tearing them down can be a struggle which is a spiritual battle that takes place within our heart, mind, and soul. We just need to keep it in our minds that the enemy is already defeated. We just need to stand behind the Lord and have faith that he is there to deliver us from the wickedness of this world.
Matthew 11:28 (NIV) “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
When you understand the Word of God and have faith in His salvation, it begins to change who you are as an individual. This transformation takes place in the heart. Paul mentions the breastplate of righteousness as a part of God’s armor. The actual breastplate of a Roman soldier would protect the chest and the upper torso in battle. It protects the internal organs, the ribs, and of course the most vital organ, the heart. The heart that Paul is referring to though, is not the physical heart but the heart that ascertains who you are as a person. Your heart is what makes you a one of a kind individual. The heart of a person is where everything comes from such as personalities, emotions, character, and other elements that can make up a person’s nature. God wants you to change your nature. He wants you to change the person you are now to one of righteousness. He wants you to change your mindset, your morals and the standards you live by. He wants you to put on the breastplate of righteousness by living with a righteous heart that thrives under righteous values.
With all the distractions the world puts in front of you, you have to keep your spiritual heart pumping. If your spiritual heart stops pumping, the Holy Spirit within you stops flowing. A righteous heart keeps the Holy Spirit alive inside of you. Your body becomes a temple for the Holy Spirit. So when God’s Spirit thrives through you, you begin to notice changes in your actions. So when Paul tells you to put on the breastplate of righteousness, he is saying to uphold the righteous values that you need to live by, no matter what the circumstances are. So how do we have a righteous heart? It is done through faith and by living under the values that bring glory to the Lord in everything you do. Living for the Lord means you have left the old you by being born again. We are all born in the flesh but the new you, is born in the Spirit!
Bible Challenge: What is the difference between your heart, soul, and spirit?
Look up these three Greek terms (Psyche, Pneuma, Kardia) in any concordance and answer the question above. This challenge can help you get an understanding of how these terms correlate with each other.
Your character defines who you are as a person, but there is true character and there is acting. True character is what’s in your heart and the only one that can fully see it besides yourself is God. The question to ask yourself as a Christian is, do you consistently project your heart out to the world? Or do you have a spiritual valve in your heart that you open and close depending on your surroundings? Does your character change depending on who you are around? This can be confusing because it makes you wonder who you really are sometimes. I know this can be common with new believers but as they progress, they will eventually realize and reshape their character by re-aligning their values as they freshly read the Word. That’s because it’s that fresh fire inside as they learn about Jesus for the first time and feel the presence of the Holy Spirit. We all felt it in the very beginning, and it is an awesome feeling. But if you don’t maintain the knowledge and don’t live it consistently, that flame begins to diminish over time and world distractions begin to take over the time you use to spend with God, so that feeling goes away. You have to be diligent in the Word to transform your character and to live under righteous principles and values.
The point of all this is that the principles you set for yourself must be consistent daily. Keep that feeling going! You need to consistently feed your mind and heart. Take in the knowledge and live it. If you become wise in the Word, then you have established a strong foundation for your life.
Lets tie in your dream with your character. Lets say you have a dream and you have found your purpose in this world as you become consistent in God’s Word. By welcoming Christ into your life, you have become a temple for the Holy Spirit, and have developed this very special relationship with God. Your faith is strong, you have found your purpose, and the Lord is right there with you every step of the way. This doesn’t mean everything is going to be easy and perfect in your eyes. The Lord will test you. He wants to be sure your faith is strong, not just toward Him, but faith in yourself as well. Sometimes these tests and trials can be hard and devastating and cause us to suffer in many ways. The Lord will allow us to go through this to make us stronger and build us up spiritually. It is up to you to figure that out through knowledge and wisdom by being diligent in feeding yourself with His Word. By reading the Word, you will understand that there is hope because you’re confident in God’s promises. You will understand that God is strengthening your character as you persevere through whatever pain is in your life at that point of time. Paul describes it best to the Romans:
Romans 5:3-5 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.