In our meditations in the last few days, we have thought 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 every one of us and has planned ahead of time to shape His people to be more like Christ, but then to also work through those called:
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 of all of this is not just so that we can perform good works; whatever we accomplish is linked to our character and the person we are becoming. Our character, what we are on the inside, is essential to the Father.
Those who believe in Christ are being trained to rule and reign with Christ (Daniel 7:27; 1 Corinthians 6:1-3), not only for the Millennium but also for eternity. God will give more trust and responsibility to 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 how you live your life before them. Such an individual has learned to prioritize what’s on God's agenda, 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 Christ is only possible if the life of God, His power, and presence dwells in you. We must depend on the Holy Spirit and God's Word to grow in Christlikeness. Some leaders have reached out to influence others before the Holy Spirit has shaped and molded their character. 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 have an adulterous affair with Bathsheba, the prophet Nathan confronted and rebuked him, saying that he had made the enemies of the Lord show utter contempt for the things of God (2 Samuel 12:14).
Preparation of the heart and character is critical for all the Body of Christ, especially for leaders. We must “first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5). If the Holy Spirit does not transform our character, we allow Satan to accuse Christians before the world. We make ourselves open candidates for sabotage by the enemy. There are too many examples of those who acquired notoriety before they were ready and sabotaged their success. Our character must be more prominent than our influence. Keith Thomas
If you'd like to share these thoughts on social media, there are Facebook and Twitter links at the bottom of the page and the link to send on an email.