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Biblically, character is defined by the quality of our intimate relationship with God. In our relationship with God we find our moral compass, calling and spiritual strength to live in an intimate relationship with Him and to complete what God has called us to do. (19)Character is God's working in our lives to mold us into the image of his Son in order for us to be God's blessing to those around us. Our behavior--public or private--grows out of our relationship with God. The more intimate our relationship with God, the more we think and ultimately act like Jesus. The less connected we are to God's Spirit and Word, the more we live life on our own terms, and our resulting actions reflect more our natural desires and impulses than those of our Rescuer and Leader, Jesus, the Christ.
Character matters because who we are in our hearts is truly who we are before God and others. Spin machines, image control, and acting the part can hide our true character for a time, but in the end who we are before God is who we really are. God desires to mold your character and reflect His purposes and values in your daily life. This is why we provided the biblical case studies in the book as examples of how God molds and uses character in people's lives in order to participate in His plans of reconciliation.
So, how does God mold character? How can you prepare your heart for the work of God?
While God is the one who develops our character, we are responsible to place ourselves in a position for Him to do so. (229)Here are four ways God can develop Character in your Heart.
- Spend time with God in His Word. You cannot not have godly character without knowing God. The Bible which reveals his Son and his ways puts you in a place for God to transform your character. If you don't have a reading plan to read the Bible, here are some.
- Spend time in God's Creation. God created a good creation. Get outside the manufactured environments we have made and get into the place God designed for you and me to live and thrive. Sit in a park. Walk in your neighborhood. Make a trip to a wilderness area. Listen. Be quiet. Hear the voice of God. The Spirit will reveal your true heart to you. Then you can begin to allow God to mold your character.
- Spend time serving the needs of others. We are naturally ego lovers. Service to another in need who can't pay you back or return the favor tests the level of God-like love in our hearts. Godly character is built upon the love and grace we have received from God. Service in the name of Jesus molds our character to be like the One who served us.
- Spend time with fellow followers. The New Testament is filled with instructions for us to meet together, to bear one another’s burdens, to pray together, and to serve together in Jesus’ name. (231) Why? We can't change ourselves. We need others, including the Holy Spirit, to help us become what God has called us to become in Christ Jesus.