If integrity is the ability to remain unchanged in an ever changing world, then it seems that character is the element we are trying to preserve. Some see character as a never changing constant. Our character is not a fixed element our entire life, but the substance of who we are. Some might think, what is the difference in a changed character over time as opposed to one that is changed quickly. When our character is changed, the timing of the change is less important than why we change. If I am changing to be a more perfect example of a better model, that is what we all should do. Or, do I change because it suits a selfish interest that serves my own purposes and glories. When one changes for this reason people find it impossible to trust us because they don’t know who we will be tomorrow.
We are all called to change according to God’s own plan. Biblical character is intended to change us to be more like Jesus and less like the world. The goal of God is to see a repentant people who can recognize their real purpose by changing for something other than their own bank accounts. So, it is not a lack of character that is revealed in a spiritually contrite heart. It is a faithful act that is intended to serve rather than be served. Character is the product of an internal source – our own hearts. Most people are far less impressed by facades than by substantive people who are authentic and genuinely centered on efforts outside themselves. We all know stories of the minister who sacrificed his ministry due to sexual misconduct or some other morally destructive exertion. God seeks character qualities like those found in 2 Peter 1:5-8. Here we find the spiritually intimidating goal of our lifetimes. Some fear that the attempt will leave us exhausted and embarrassed in the end. That somehow we can faithfully pursue these hard works, only to be left alone and judged in the end.
The verses which precede these, explain how it is possible for a human to achieve such a God-defined spirituality. (2 Peter 1:3-4)
We can only access divine power through Jesus. Without maintaining a connection to Christ He cannot live His life and power through us. At Baptism we receive a new life and are endowed with the spiritual power to manifest what God is seeking from each of us. (Acts 2:38; Romans 6:6-13) We need the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. That’s why the seal is given. (Ephesians 1:13; 4:30) The seal of a real relationship that is the result of sacrifice, honor, and loyalty only found in the noblest efforts of men and a holy Savior who loves us more than His own life.
Real spiritual character happens from the inside out. (Luke 11:39) Outside change without an inward impetus is called hypocrisy. The same is also true of inward change without an accompanying outward manifestation. Character formed outside the fire of Christ’s purity will never stand up over time. How many times have people attempted change only to find themselves back in the same problem again. We need to be tempered by the holy fire of God in order to be people who can “make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.” (2 Peter 1:5-8, ESV)
What we do is a definition of our own hearts. If we don’t like our actions then blaming someone else is not going to bring about change in us. We want to blame everything but the real cause of the problem and then we wonder why we can’t alter the outcome of our own effort. We need to take a deep look inside and start by cleaning out our own hearts. My own self is no exception.
Are you what you claim to be? What is the priority of your life? What is it that you focus on and work toward more than anything else? I know some Christians who have a hard time finding time to be Christians. If that is true then what are we when we are not Christians? If I am too busy for God, then I am too busy. If I am too distracted by the world, then it is time to learn how to start cutting out those distractions. If I am too weak, then I need to start working out in God’s gym. If I don’t know God’s Word, then maybe my Bible needs become more than a table decoration. If I want to be what God wants me to be it is entirely possible. Not because I have been specially blessed but because I submit myself to God. The character we seek is only found through the exercise of God’s wisdom, and that is the result of seeking out and living God’s wisdom in this world. (James 1:5; 3:13-17)
Live wisely according to the tenets of God and you will be a person of character. I pray the bestfor you as you live according to the wisdom of God.