Helps in Character Building

by Gene Taylor

It goes without saying that Jesus is the perfect standard by which to measure our character. We are to develop in the same four areas in which He grew -- wisdom, stature, favor with men, and favor with God (Luke 2:52). This Bible, though, presents additional ideas to help us properly develop our characters. In this article, we will offer some of those guidelines which will help all of us mold our characters into what God would have them to be.

Learn Self-Discipline

Learn to say "no" to self, friends, evil ways, bad habits, etc. Jesus taught self-denial (Matt. 16: 24). The apostle Peter taught that "self-control" is to be added to our faith (2 Pet. 1:5-7). Having no self-discipline is a sign of immaturity.

Be Unselfish

Selfishness, the seat of all sins and wrong-doing, is having too much concern with one's own welfare. It is illustrated in Scripture by both Lot (Gen. 13:8-13) and the rich fool (Luke 12:16-20).

It is impossible to make a right decision and be selfish. Moses, in choosing to lead the children of Israel, acted selflessly (Heb. 11:24-26), while, on the other hand, Lot, acting in a purely selfish manner, made a terrible choice which led to tragic consequences (Gen. 13:8ff).

Someone has suggested that a good rule to follow is "God first, others second and self third."

Use Proper Discrimination

Be able to see the difference between good and evil, right and wrong, when there is one. Judge a thing not only by what it is but also by what it will eventually lead to if it is followed to its end -- such as social drinking.

Additionally, do not choose for the present but the future. Lot chose for the present while Moses chose for the future.

Have Convictions

Develop strong beliefs on all important issues. Convictions, whether right or wrong, create respect. No one respects a person who is "wishy-washy."

Stand with your convictions even if you must stand alone. Consider the apostle Paul (2 Tim. 4:16) and Jesus (Mark 14:50). Do not be afraid to express your conviction. Consider how Daniel boldly stated his convictions as a captive in Babylon (Dan. 1).

Form Good Habits

A habit is a thing done often and hence, usually done easily. It is a practice, custom or act that is acquired and becomes automatic. There are two kinds of habits -- good and bad. Form good habits and abstain from the bad ones.

Be and Do Your Best

"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might" (Eccl. 9:10). Consider Joseph. He always did his best whether he found himself as a slave, prisoner or governor.

Learn to Think for Yourself

Do not be a slave to another's thinking, especially in religion. The importance of thinking properly is stated in Proverbs 23:7: "For as he thinks in his heart, so is he." Therefore, control your thinking. "Bring every thought in captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5; cf. Phil. 4:8).

Use Pure Speech

"Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one" (Col. 4:6). Learn how to communicate. A lack of communication causes many problems. Express yourself properly and well. Do not use filthy or profane language (Eph. 4:29). Profanity is scorned by all right-thinking people. In reality, it is a sign of stupidity. The tongue may be hard to control (Jas. 3:1-12) but it can be and must be controlled.

Behave Properly

"...Be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity" (1 Tim. 4:12). This teaching is primarly aimed at youth since the apostle Paul told Timothy to conduct himself properly so that no one would "despise his youth." Young people need to behave properly in the home by respecting parents (Eph. 6:1), in school by respecting the rules and teachers, in public by conforming to established rules. Those who are older need to set the example for the young and be consistent -- not requiring of young people what they do not require of themselves. A good rule for all when it comes to behavior is do not do anything you would not want to be doing when Jesus comes.

Be Definite in Aim and Purpose

God created everything for a definite purpose -- even you. Be purposeful in living. Do not just drift through life just taking it as it comes. Have an aim in life. Establish proper goals and work hard to reach them. Be determined but not stubborn. Of course, as a Christian, your life is filled with purpose. "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man's all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil" (Eccl. 12:13-14). Never forget that your ultimate goal is heaven. That will help you keep focused in living each day in the proper manner.

Build a Home

Whatever your situation in relation to physical family, do what you can to make it what God would have it to be. If you are a child still living at home with your parents, conduct yourself respectfully. Obey their rules, listen to their advice, seek their guidance. If you are contemplating marriage, choose a companion who not only loves you but also loves God. If you are already someone's spouse, apply the teachings of Scripture to that relationship. Husbands, love your wives (Eph. 5:25). Wives, be subject unto your husbands (Eph. 5:22) and love them (Titus 2:4). If you are a parent, bring up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4).

Often, happiness in this life and the eternal destiny of one's soul in the life to come is in large part determined by relationships in the physical family. Your true character is tested by how you act and react toward family.

Be a Christian

A Christian is a person who wears the name of the Lord. It shows he belongs to Jesus and that he is living in accordance with His will. Do not claim to be a Christian if you are not willing to conform your life -- your thoughts and actions -- to the doctrine of Christ (2 John 9).

In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus said, "Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. Now everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall." You must build your life and your character on the teachings of Jesus and follow His example in all things (1 Pet. 2:21).