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Home » Opinion » Making a Case for Christian Character Development

Countless people caught in the act of the forbidden, from fornication to scandalous adulterous acts to the more subtle acts of gossip and jealousy. In the eyes of God all sin is sin. Why do we Christians continue to struggle with sin secretly, why do some have horrible addictions and character flaws? Why do we walk on egg shells in the church and fail to address major character flaws in our leaders, why do we put on our Sunday smile and return home with a frown, why do we lift up holy hands in church and fly the middle finger in traffic. Do we put on an act for the preacher, do some Christians steal, lie and fornicate? why is the preacher self-serving and arrogant?

Many people assume that once a person professes to be a Christian, then they should automatically have good character and act in a certain stereotypical manner. Many of you will attest to the fact that this notion is far from the truth. Why do so-called Christians still engage in patterns of negative behavior such as arrogance, adultery, selfishness, anger and a score of other character flaws?.  The simple answer is this, every individual’s history based on their childhood backgrounds, life experiences, early family life, social environment, personality and will power all determines the character they adopt. As Christians the single decision to follow Christ gives rise to a new nature of God that guarantees us eternal life. The responsibility now lies in our hands to critically examine our lives on a routine basis to begin to work on divorcing these habits, based on the tools that we have been given in the holy-spirit and the word of God.

The first step is to identify and accept the fact that we need help. This can be done by setting fellowship time apart and alone, away from all the church business and activities. A lot of Christian get caught up in church work and activities at the expense of their personal fellowship with God. In reality what is cultivated is a bunch of good church workers with very poor personal spiritual lives.  It’s time to look back and think on patterns of negative characters or behaviors that may exist in our lives and analyze their root causes based our individual backgrounds and history. The second step is to gain knowledge surrounding this issue through the use of written materials and self help topics on the issue. The third step is to actively seek to develop new and more positive coping skills. This can be done through the process of mentorship and accountability with fellow Christians or leaders that exemplify this character trait that you desire. This can also be done through the process of professional Christian counseling. Positive coping skills are developed when negative mind sets and belief systems about oneself and the perception of others are replaced with new belief patterns.

As a Christian the word of God provides us with various promises that enable us to develop a positive image of who we are meant to be in the eyes of God. This scripture in 2 Corinthians 5:17 further emphasizes this transformation and newness that life as a Christian brings. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” The development of new coping skills will occur over a period of time and produce more positive patterns of responding to situations.

Our goal as Christians should be that of developing our character in order to conform to the likeness of God and to rise above the typical character flaws that are common to our human nature. This scripture in Romans 7:19-23 talks about the human nature of sin “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but [how] to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.”

Character growth comes through the process of time and a conscious acceptance and acknowledgement by each individual that there is a need for change in their character. According to the Webster’s dictionary, character is defined as the strength of mind of a person to develop distinguishing and good moral features, attributes, traits, and abilities. The Strongs concordance gives a biblical definition of character as proof of genuineness, trustworthiness, acceptability. (Strongs 1382). The bible talks about character development in Romans chapter 5 verse 3-4 ‘and not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance character; and character, hope. The apostle Paul commends Timothy’s character in Phillipians Chapter 2verse 20-22 ‘For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are of Jesus Christ. But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served me in the gospel.’ These references to scripture, emphasizes the importance of character growth and development in the life of a Christian.

According to a 2008 article by Johnathan Taylor, we ought to examine our character daily against those Godly character traits listed as fruits of the Spirit in Galatians chapter 5 verse 22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Kemi Adegbite 2011

One Response to “Making a Case for Christian Character Development”

  1. Bless you for this article.
    Godly character is meant to be an asset for evangelism; however this is not the case amongst many Christian cycles today. Your character goes beyond what you preach; it is the manifestation of what you believe (the state of your mind). While salvation can only be obtain by confessing with your mouth and believing in your heart that Jesus is Lord, your character can only be renewed through the constant meditation of the word of God. Roman 12:1-2 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

    Reply

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