Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Christian Character Development Part 2

Greetings again my friends and readers:

In the last post we started a series on Christian character development.  We considered two qualities listed in 2 Peter 1:4-8, faith and moral character.  In this post we continue starting with knowledge.

Knowledge is an essential component for our walk in the Christian way.  Without it faith is impossible in the first place since one has to know what one is having faith in.  It is so important that Jesus referred to it in rebuking Satan when he said that one must live “by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4; Luke 4:4).  Of course Jesus was referring to the inspired word of God, the source of truth our creator has given us and against which all teaching must be measured (Acts 17:10-11, where we have recorded for us the Bereans checking the Holy Scriptures to confirm Paul’s testimony).

Divinely inspired knowledge isn’t secret.  It is as open to all as the Bible.  It doesn’t require training in some seminary or university to know and understand being simple enough that many throughout the Gospel age have figured it out in its essentials often with little more than the right scraps of God’s word available to them, such as the book of Romans, which is an exposition on basic truth.  There are bible helps today, books and other literature written by mature Christians, but one should always check what is written against the Bible itself to make sure such writings really do teach the truth, just as the Bereans mentioned earlier did.

Correct knowledge of the truth enables us to keep our steps straight and serves as a light to guide us in this darkness (Ps. 119:105).  Without knowledge of what God wants of us we wouldn’t know how to build the kind of character he wants.  And he has not left us without that knowledge as we are considering the list of character traits he wants us to have he left us right now.  Because of its importance it is indeed that Peter included it in his list to the brethren in the first century.  That is why Bible reading goes before Bible study by means of Bible helps.  By reading it daily using a good translation we will have the requisite grounding in the word to recognize what is truth and what is not.  Thus the child of God makes time to daily read the word (Ps. 1).

Self-control is next.  The word Peter used was ἐγκράτεια (G1466), which Thayer’s defines as “self-control (the virtue of one who masters his desires and passions, especially his sensual appetites).”  The true Christian doesn’t live primarily to satisfy his or her desires as the world does.  He or she has given up all earthly hopes for a greater gain, to be partakers of the divine nature as Christ is (2 Peter 1:4).  So the ones called out of this world are under trial right now as to their fitness to join their fellows as kings and priests in the coming kingdom of the Christ so they must develop this quality in order to be fit for their role in that kingdom (Rev. 20: 4-6; 1 Cor. 9:24-27).

So self-control is a mark of Christians.  They don’t vent anger, over drink, overeat, watch pornography, or indulge in many other ways those in the world do.  Although they may marry, sexual relations are characterized by love with the Christian not letting selfishness take over and causing harm to his or her partner physically or emotionally as far as possible.  That means they will not insist that their spouse engage in distasteful and dangerous acts many in the world do, nor will they insist on their way when their spouse finds something distasteful or legitimately aren’t up to it.  “Everything goes” just isn’t the way of the Christ dear readers, and it shouldn’t be ours.

To be self-controlled also means the true Christian is honest in their relations with others.  The Christian employer gives his workers an honest living wage and Christian workers give an honest day’s work for their wages, whether their employer is a Christian or not.  True Christians are honest in their business practices, not seeking the advantage over others with sharp or dishonest business practices.  And those with self-control are honest even when it hurts their reputation…or even their pocketbooks.

Self-control includes controlling one’s tongue.  There is so much damage the unguarded tongue can cause.  Gossip destroys reputations and causes resentment, especially when untrue.  Thoughtless words cause anger and resentment as well.  It is not without good reason that James wrote of how such a little “member” of our body can cause such great fires (James 3).

And the preceding paragraphs are by no means exhaustive on the subject of self-control.

We’ve now considered four of the character traits we want to cultivate in order to develop our characters as God wants of us dear readers.  We’ll continue on with the next in the series.

Have a blessed day.

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