Today’s focus is on ‘Character Building’. I want to look at some verses that discuss what we should aim to become, and what we can become if we keep our focus in the right place. First, let’s get into what Paul was telling the church at Colosse about their place in Christ…
“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:1,2 NKJV)
Colossians 3 discusses this quite plainly. We, as newly converted Christians, are to put off ‘earthly’ things; things from our old nature that are contrary to godliness, i.e. “sexual immorality, uncleanness, lustful passion, evil desire, and greediness, which is idolatry.”(v.3:5). These attributes are to be discarded and replaced with character traits that become godly folk. So too, should we discard, “anger, rage, wickedness, slander, abusive language.” (v. 3:8)
They’re all pretty simple to understand. No need to expand on them but for the sake of clarity let’s give examples: 1) Sexual Immorality, uncleanness and lustful passion – These involve filthy minds bent on acts of sexual behavior that might include unnatural uses for the body, sexual habits that are against what the body was made for by God. Our bodies are the temples (1 Corinthians 6:19) of the Holy Spirit and we insult God by entertaining these behaviors, sinning against ourselves and the Holy Spirit.
” Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a person commits is outside his body, but the one who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God with your body. “(1 Cor 6:18-20 LEB)
Evil desire and greediness are equally repulsive to the Holy Spirit and to God. The desire to control everything and have everything are an affront to God because God’s grace is sufficient for us. (2 Cor 12:9) We need not fret over our lives, our situations, or our needs. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)
So, we should shun our former selves because we are now to behave with godliness and holiness, if in fact we are in Christ Jesus, new creations. But what attributes do we need to desire and pursue?
Further in Colossians 3 we are told…
12 Therefore, as the chosen of God, holy and dearly loved, put on affection, compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, 13 putting up with one another and forgiving one another. If anyone should have a complaint against anyone, just as also the Lord forgave you, thus also you do the same. 14 And to all these things add love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And the peace of Christ must rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body, and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another with all wisdom, with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God, 17 and everything ⌊whatever⌋ you do in word or in deed, giving thanks for all things in the name of the Lord Jesus to God the Father through him. (Col 3:12-17 LEB)
Wow! That’s a lot of info. So, let’s not try and change ourselves all at once. Let’s instead, pick one character trait to work on each week for seven weeks. That’s not too hard. And living with each one for a week will help it to sink into our psyche. We can write the trait on a post-it note and place it on the bathroom mirror where we are likely to see it at least twice a day. It would be a passive but powerful reminder.
And, at the end of each week we can look back and reflect on how we succeeded in building this behavior and habit into our daily lives.
I once was homeless and what changed for me, what got me off the streets was a daily reading habit. I had come across a book by the great writer, Og Mandino, and what the daily reading had taught me was to lift up my eyes and see the good in the world and the opportunity that each day presented to me, regardless of my current situation. The book was titled, “The Greatest Salesman in the World,” and it took me a few months to pick up the book and read it. I had a negative perception of salespeople at the time and I didn’t want to read an entire book dedicated to them, but I overcame my perceptions and was delighted to find that Mandino had woven a beautiful story around some principles that anyone could adopt into their own life. These principles were hidden in ten scrolls and the secret was reading each scroll three times a day for thirty days before moving on to the next scroll.
I tell you, it was a miracle for me. And I was hungry for it. I read those scrolls more than three times a day. I was so hungry for a change.
In no time at all, my attitude changed, my perceptions of the world changed, and my fortunes changed with them. I got off the streets with a new job and a bright future. Since then I’ve never been without that book in my library. I still pick it up and read those scrolls from time to time and they are like old friends.
Well, I didn’t start today’s blog post to tell you about Og Mandino. I wrote today’s blog to tell you that we have at our disposal a whole world of possibilities because God is our everything. He is our Father, our Savior, our friend. And He wants us to live fruitful lives. And we do that by becoming what we were always meant to be – holy.
We need to start with LOVE. Notice in Colossians that love is the last thing that Paul mentions but it is the most important thing because LOVE is the completion of all the rest. Affection, kindness, compassion, humility, gentleness, patience – they all emanate from a loving heart and spirit.
So, take these next weeks and make love the center of your being. Post notes all over the house and work on each attribute mentioned throughout the day. I feel confident that, if you stick to it, and put forth the effort, you will experience a godly kind of peace as you become the loving follower of Christ that you are meant to be.
May the Peace of Christ comfort you
Further scriptural references: Micah 6:8; 1 Cor 6:18-19; Gal 6:10; 1 Thess 5:14-15; Titus 2, 3