How God Develops Christian Character
And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope (Romans 5:3-4).
When you receive Christ as your personal Savior, God begins to work in you. Nobody is born fully grown, so God has to build your Christian character.
The Bible says in Philippians 1:6, "...He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it...." When you are saved, God simply begins a good work in you. You are not a finished product.
God will build Christian character, but first you must receive Christ. Some people try to develop character, but they have no foundation. And that foundation is Jesus Christ.
How does God build Christian character?
God will allow pressures to come. The word tribulation literally means "pressure." It is a word that was used to describe crushing grapes in the vat for wine or crushing olives for oil. God wants the oil of gladness and the wine of joy in your character. He wants that which will sustain and give strength, but the only way that God will get it out of you is to press it out. Is something bad happening to you right now? Are you having trouble? Are you feeling pressure? These are not obstacles; they are opportunities! They are things that God has engineered to build character into your life.
You're going to have tribulation whether you're a Christian or not, but a child of God sees what happens and can, "glory in tribulations."
The Bible teaches that God wants to work a character quality in your heart known as patience. The word patient here is not one of passivity. Actually the word means "endurance or constancy." What are some reactions when troubles come?
- Some may try to escape with a plane ticket, a pill, a bottle, a needle, or even a gun.
- Others may even get cynical and shake their fist in the face of God
- Some may recognize that God wants to teach endurance and it is His way of building Christian character.
How do you respond?
One of the greatest marks of your faith and your confidence in the Almighty is your endurance, your perseverance, and your constancy when trouble comes.
The word experience is translated in many Bibles as character and it has to do with the idea of purity. This word was used to speak of gold that had been put in the fire and refined until it was pure. It speaks of a character that has gone through the experiences of tribulation and perseverance. And through them, God begins to burn out the dross.
Many of us don't want that, but I want God to continue to work in my heart and my life until He burns out that dross. They say that a refiner of silver or gold knows when the gold is pure when he can see his own face reflected in it. Our Lord wants to see His character reflected in us.
Have you grown in your Christian life when you were faced with trouble, heartache, pressure, pain, misunderstanding, or bewilderment? Did you grow when you had nowhere to go but to God, and you had to keep searching your heart and saying, "Oh God, what's wrong? God what are you trying to tell me? What are you trying to teach me? What do you want me to confess?" God uses those difficulties to produce growth in us.
We call this hope. Hope doesn't mean "to wish or desire." It means, "a rock-ribbed assurance based on the Word of God and the character of God." When we go through pressures, tribulations, and afflictions and we come out the other side, we have learned that God is faithful. God saw us through and my friend — that is hope.
I want you to know that Jesus Christ is hope. Hebrews 6:19 speaks of hope when it says, "Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, sure and steadfast...." Let the storms rage, the waves buffet us, and the wind blow — for my Anchor holds.
If you don't have hope, you don't have anything. Faith believes, but hope expects. A person who lives by confidence in God alone and looks to God alone has Christian character.
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