BUILDING CHARACTER WHEN OUR FAITH IS TESTED

BUILDING CHARACTER WHEN OUR FAITH IS TESTED

The Webster dictionary defines character as one of the attributes or features that make up and distinguish an individual.  It also calls character moral excellence and firmness.  So, in a lot of ways character can be a choice. It is also something that develops in ways that transcend education, training, or position. You cannot acquire character by reading a book.  As a matter of fact, it is built rather than acquired.  Character is many times used in place of integrity and moral uprightness. People of character are admired because they consistently do the right things for the right reasons.  We can learn what it means to have good character but that does not necessarily translate into having good character.  We know character is built and not learned; but how do we build character?  In Romans 5:3-4 the Bible tells us that we glory in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  This seems to be telling us that our character is built through adversities. These two verses reveal that the building of your character begins with God’s instruction to rejoice in our sufferings. God is definitely not telling us to be happy because we are suffering, instead, He is telling us to rejoice in the assurance of His grace and provision in the midst of our sufferings.

James 1:2 says we should consider it pure joy whenever we face different kinds of trials.  It added in verses 3 and 4 that this is because we know that the testing of our faith produces perseverance which is a precursor to becoming mature and complete.  I have personally learned that the way I respond to trials can have a great effect on whether they become roadblocks in my life or opportunities to learn and grow. When I agonize over difficulties, the experiences only serve to weigh me down, but when I remember that these trials are part of the great plan of God for me to build my character then I can actually see them as opportunities to grow and learn.  This is a guarantee that God has given us, that our God-trusting perseverance will ultimately build our character.

Just as victory requires fighting a battle, the development of character requires persevering through our trials. God is the author of our character and the object of our hope and He does not disappoint. Trials give us opportunities to show the Lord and ourselves that we will be faithful. So, we can choose to feel sorry for ourselves and ask, “Why me?” or we can grow from our trials and increase our faith in the Lord.  We can let adversity break us down and make us bitter, or we can let it refine us and make us stronger. We can allow adversity to lead us to drift away from the things that matter most, or we can use it as a stepping-stone to grow closer to things that have eternal worth.  Often, Spiritual growth happens because we have been through some trials, whereas comfort and peace tend to lead us into self-reliance and wrong attribution of power and ability.  We must learn to bear whatever comes our way knowing that God’s grace is sufficient for us and “our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” – 2 Corinthians 4:17.  So, how can we pull through when adversities come knocking?

First rely on Christ.  In fact, one of the purposes of trials is to help us come to know Christ, understand His teachings in our minds, feel them in our hearts, and live them in our lives.  I believe that the challenges I have faced in my life were very instrumental in learning the lessons I needed to learn. I believe I am whatever I am today because of the trials I have experienced, not in spite of them. Also, when faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges, be patient because as we patiently endure in righteousness, He may reveal to us greater understanding about our trials and the purpose of them in our lives. Finally, always keep an eternal perspective.  Always think, this is happening now as part of God’s eternal plan. In our circumstances, let us always look forward with hope and not at our circumstances with despair.  That is the plan of God for us.  May His plans be perfected in our lives.

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