Character Development

Character Development

Character Development

It’s amazing how many
circumstances in life serve to reinforce the same foundational
principles of faith in our lives over and over again. This
continues to amaze me because I have such a short, selective
memory. Thinking that I’ve learnt this lesson, I go on to
the next and do not even realise that the following set of
circumstances has been designed to strengthen the previous
lesson.

Since returning to the ship for
the second commitment, my husband, Dennie, and I have noticed
some great differences. The first time was exciting and new
– we didn’t know anybody, no-one knew us and
everything was an adventure presented on a fresh, clean slate.
This time around, we know all the procedures and most of the
people on board – their good and bad points; most of them
know us – our good and bad points; and very little is an
adventure because our ‘slate’ is filled and
overcrowded with notes and comparisons from last time. Because of
this, there has been an inclination to be discouraged before even
starting something; i.e. if you know that someone has a tendency
towards saying ‘no’ much of the time, you become more
hesitant about approaching them.

Initially, my first reaction was
to wish that God would wave a magic wand and remove all these
negative people from the face of the earth – for His glory
of course – so that the rest of us, the positive people
could work towards His will in our lives. Not once did I consider
that this negative person was His will for my life!

On board we are doing a study
called “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren and
in view of what Dennie and I were struggling with, it was very
apt to read, “God uses His Word,
people and circumstances to mold us. All
three are indispensable for character development
.
God’s Word provides the truth we need to grow, God’s
people provide the support we need to grow, and circumstances
provide the environment we need to practice
Christlikeness…

Many people assume all that is
needed for spiritual growth is Bible study and prayer. But some
issues in life will never be changed by Bible study or prayer
alone. God uses people…

In many religions, the people
considered to be the most spiritually mature and holy are those
who isolate themselves from others in mountaintop monasteries,
uninfected by contact with other people. But this is a gross
misunderstanding. Spiritual maturity is not a solitary,
individual pursuit! You cannot grow to Christlikeness in
isolation…You must be around other people and interact
with them… true spiritual maturity is all about learning
to love like Jesus, and you can’t practice being like Jesus
without being in relationship with other people. Remember,
it’s all about love – loving God and loving
others…

God’s ultimate goal for your
life on earth is not comfort, but character development. He wants
you to grow up spiritually and become like Christ. Becoming like
Christ does not mean losing your personality or becoming a
mindless clone. God created your uniqueness, so he certainly
doesn’t want to destroy it. Christlikeness is all about
transforming your character, not your personality.

Every time you forget that
character is one of God’s purposes for your life, you will
become frustrated by your circumstances. You’ll wonder,
“Why is this happening to me? Why am I having such a
difficult time?” One answer is that life is
supposed to be difficult! It’s what
enables us to grow. Remember, earth is not heaven!

Many Christians misinterpret
Jesus’ promise of the “abundant life” to mean
perfect health, a comfortable lifestyle, constant happiness, full
realisation of your dreams, and instant relief from problems
through faith and prayer. In a word, they expect the Christian
life to be easy. They expect heaven on earth.

This self-absorbed perspective
treats God as a genie who simply exists to serve you in your
selfish pursuit of personal fulfillment. But God is not your
servant, and if you fall for the idea that life is supposed to be
easy, either you will become severely disillusioned or you will
live in denial of reality.

Never forget that life is not
about you! You exist for God’s purposes, not vice versa.
Why would God provide heaven on earth when He’s planned the
real thing for you in eternity? God gives us our time on earth to
build and strengthen our character for heaven.”

When I consider my state of
perpetual nasal congestion from a lingering cold, fatigue,
ongoing people trials, struggles to find enough personal time and
time as a family, I am glad to know that something good will come
from it all - Psalm 17:15b says, “…I will be
satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.”

I will look like Jesus!