In our meditations in the last few days, we have been thinking about the fact that God tests those who belong to Him to build character. God is outside of time and has seen the end from the beginning. He knows everyone of us, and has planned ahead of time to shape His people to be more like Christ, but then also to work through you:
For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10 Emphasis mine).
Sometimes the things that God has prepared in advance for us to do can be hindered by a lack of godly character. “Good character is not formed in a week or a month. It is created little by little, day by day. Protracted and patient effort is needed to develop good character” (Heraclitus). God has to work on or in us before He can work through us. The purpose in all of this is not just so that we can perform works, whatever we accomplish is linked to our character, to the person we are becoming. What we are on the inside, our character, is essential to the Father. As the Bride of Christ, believers are being trained for ruling and reigning, not only for the Millennium but for eternity. More trust and responsibility will be given those whose character has been transformed by the Spirit of God, those with the fruit of changed lives. The fruit of the Spirit is described in Galatians 5:22 as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Godly character is evident to others in the way you live your life before them. Such an individual is one who has learned to give priority to what’s on God's agenda and not their own. Don’t be shocked, then, when difficulties come your way:
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name (1 Peter 4:12-19 Emphasis mine).
Exhibiting the character of God is only possible if the life of God, His power, and presence, is dwelling in you. We are dependent upon His Word and the Holy Spirit if we want to grow in Christlikeness. We all know of leaders who have reached out to influence people before godly character has become part of their lives. Leadership without character usually results in moral collapse and the ridicule and accusations of the enemy. King David is an example of this. When he chose to give in to temptation and an adulterous affair with Bathsheba, the prophet Nathan confronted and rebuked him. The prophet Nathan told David that he had made the enemies of the Lord show utter contempt for the things of God (2 Samuel 12:14).
Preparation of our heart and character is critical, for when we are not available to the Holy Spirit to work in our lives and transform our character, we give Satan an opportunity to accuse Christians before the world, especially when we have influence and yet give in to temptation. We make ourselves open candidates for sabotage either from the enemy or our sin nature. There are many examples of those who acquired notoriety before they were ready and have sabotaged their success. Our character must be more prominent than our influence. Keith Thomas