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Monday, April 25, 2011

I am a character!

Blessed is the one whom God corrects;
   so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.
(Job 5:17)

Character is the ultimate goal of God's "formative" work within us.  All that gives us our "make up" and distinguishes us from the next person is what God is at work doing within us in our daily walk.  Character is sometimes described at the sum of our mental and ethical traits - that which we think and that which we come believe as our basis for our choices.  At other times, we sometimes refer to character as our reputation - that which we see as moral excellence, or the lack thereof.

It is sometimes kind of hard to "persevere" in the times of discipline.  We want to throw in the towel because the "going gets tough".  Character is what we are - what we are made of. Perseverance is what we do with the character we have allowed to be formed within us.  When our character has built upon Christ, we will have the power to endure even in the midst of things that others might see as overwhelming or threatening.

I have heard it said that character is really learning to do what is right simply because it is the right thing to do.  I guess this is true.  In fact, when we allow Christ's character to be "worked out" in us, we are going to see evidence of the standards by which we live changed.  We don't have the same "values" any longer.  There is a tendency to make up our own rules in life - this is natural.  When we allow Christ to determine the "rules" for our lives, we are saying that we desire a change of character.  We want God's limits to define our behavior.

Obedience must become a priority for us - making a personal choice to NOT compromise whenever the whim hits us.  When we are asking for God to affect our character, we are essentially saying that we want him to affect our willingness to be obedient.  We are asking that he also give us the ability to obey the limits (standards of behavior) he sets for us.

In recent years, there is a word that I have heard repeatedly - accountability.  Sometimes, we tend to use words without really knowing what they mean.  We simply throw them out there and then expect that those around us will understand the meaning behind them.  Accountability is really an attitude of heart that says, "I am willing to share my activities - my conduct of behavior - with others."  In turn, when we say that we are willing to be accountable, we are asking for others to be encouragement to us when we are moving in the right direction, and exhort us when we are not.

At times, accountability comes with discipline.  Behavior must be corrected when it does not align with what it is that we committed to do.  In Christ, we are asking for our behavior to conform to the "rules" established by him for our lives.  In our workplace, we may be saying that we are willing to conform to the "rules" established that will enable us to accomplish a specific goal.  It is in discipline that we see our hearts and minds "bent" toward that goal.  God's purpose is always our holiness.  His method for accomplishing holiness is always training or discipline.

Several responses we should have to God's discipline:  1) We can take it seriously - seeing the action within our lives that cause the correction to be necessary.  2) Take it courageously - instead of running from it.  It is in the accepting of discipline that we have an opportunity to learn from it.  3) Know that God knows best - he sees the end from the beginning, so he is fully aware of what will happen if we don't face the music.  4) Respond with the attitude that it is for our own good - in Christ, all things work for our good.  

Tomorrow, we will continue to look at the need for discipline in our lives.  See you then.