HOW TO GROW OUR CHARACTER…
The word ‘character’ can be exchanged for these synonyms: personality, nature, disposition, temperament, make-up, and stamp. To possess character it can be said that a person is courageous, upright, intelligent, wise, to be honoured, and deserving of a good reputation.
Thus, to grow godly character means we become more like Christ – as if we are stamped from the same mould, living our lives from a place of biblical wisdom and bringing honour and glory to Him.
I’ve recently celebrated my 40th birthday with an international travel themed party. In decorating the cake, a friend and I created icing cut-outs of famous landmarks, using embossed cookie cutters. We didn’t want family and friends to look at the cake, and ponder, ‘What have they done here?’, but rather to readily identify the icons we’d represented.
And so it is with us. As children of God, we are to be ‘cookie cutter’ moulds of our Creator (Genesis 1: 26-27). Our image (or character – the part of us which expresses the nature given to us by God) should show others who (or in fact whose – His!) we are. Why? Because our character reveals our identity.
In Proverbs 31:10-12, we read,
“A wife of noble character, who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.”
Noble (or godly/righteous/Christ-like) character…
- Is first demonstrated within family
- Is sought after
- Is a reflection of our worth
- Engenders confidence in us from others
- Brings security and provision
- Enables us to be a blessing unto others
Godly character is always a blessing and never a burden to bear.
Character in the family
It is no accident that the passage above speaks of the wife of noble character. A wife is a co-leader in a family, and quite often a mother. Each of us, regardless of whether we are married or not, are to fulfil these roles (guiding, teaching, and showing love and compassion towards those in our care – both in the home and further afield).
There’s no truer reflection of a person’s character
than the way they treat their own families.
God places us in families as the school for character development, knowing that we’ll spend significant amounts of time together and have a multitude of opportunities to choose, ‘Will I respond in a godly or ungodly manner in this situation?’ (Ever had a family member ‘rub you up the wrong way’? If there’s dirt to be hidden in our character, our families seem to unearth it). We can fairly easily be ‘on our best behaviour’ for friends, neighbours and colleagues, whilst it takes greater intentionality, consistency, persistence, forgiveness, boundary setting and truth telling to maintain the same strong relationships with those in our intimate circles.
A wife of noble character doesn’t put on a mask for the general public, whilst exposing her family to unwholesome speech or dishonouring behaviour. Nor does she feed her family the leftovers of her kindness, patience and grace. She chooses to love, even when it is not easy (Ephesians 4:1-2). She is led by God (Matthew 11:29) and develops godly character as a safeguard against being nothing more than a ‘loud, clanging gong’ (1 Corinthians 13) (one who lives for the acclaim and applause of people).
This woman’s character outside her home is simply an overflow of what’s occurring within it.
Character is sought after
If something is rare, it’s value increases, it is precious and people seek to have it. A few years ago I visited the crown jewels in London – stunning pieces of jewellery guarded under lock and key because of their immense value. So we should regard godly character as something to desire, pursue and guard in our lives.
As Proverbs 15:6 says,
“Great and priceless treasure ([or strength, as another version puts it]) is in the house of the consistently righteous one ([or we could say, the one of godly character]) who seeks godly instruction and grows in wisdom…” (The Amplified Version)
A key to developing godly character is surrounding ourselves with those who display it in their lives – for we become like those we hang around (Proverbs 13:20, 1 Corinthians 15:33).
Character and worth
The Bible says that a wife of noble character is worth far above rubies… So, I did a little research around rubies and here is what I’ve found:
- The highest calibre rubies are more valuable than diamonds, and are extremely uncommon which makes them even more sought after.
- The finest rubies have a pure, vibrant red colour (I love how that reflects the purity we have as we are washed clean by the blood of Jesus!).
- Rubies can be found near volcano sites (which speaks to me of character developed under pressure as we experience the challenges of life).
- Proverbs 3 speaks of wisdom as being more precious than rubies. Wisdom produces life and fruit in our lives.
Just as a princess wears a crown (containing beautiful gems, like rubies) that denotes who she is, so we put on our righteousness which shows others that we are daughters of the King.
If a princess spoke slang, wore her trackpants out to events and chewed with her mouth open, we’d likely question if she truly were royalty. These things would simply be out of place for someone in her position. Our speech and conduct should tell others about our identity and in whom we find our hope (Titus 2:8). If we speak and act in ways which don’t align with the values and beliefs of our Christian faith, it can make it harder for others to see Jesus in us. Our lives must tell of the freedom and joy that is to be found in Christ, and His grace which changes us from the inside out.
Character and confidence
A woman of strong character is one who can be trusted by others, as it is known that she will act with integrity at all times (see 2 Kings 12:15, Psalm 25:21, Proverbs 10:9, Titus 2:7-8). Her husband can be confident in all that his wife does and says. What an asset to bring to a relationship (be it in marriage, parenting, friendship, with work colleagues or at church)!
In Proverbs 12:4 we read, ‘A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones’. Perhaps this is where the old adage comes from, that, ‘behind every good man stands a good woman’. There’s power in our character, and it’s consequences are far-reaching. Godly character can position others as royalty, while poor character can destroy another’s physical health (Have you ever felt physically sickened by the depraved behaviour of an abusive person, and the way they treat you or others?).
We have a responsibility to live from a place of strength of character so that we are a blessing to others by being:
- Steadfast in our convictions (and an example to others in this)
- Bringers of wisdom
- Courageous and bold
- Unshakeable and immoveable by life’s circumstances and the devil’s attacks against us
- Fearless in sharing our faith
Character, security and provision
Character enables us and those around us to ‘lack nothing of value’. To me, this signals both our heavenly and earthly needs being met (in full!) (Philippians 4:19). Women who possess godly character, ‘train up their children in the way they should go’ (God’s way!) (Proverbs 22:6), which can lead them to restored relationship with Jesus and eternal peace.
Similarly, a woman walking in the wisdom of Kingdom principles is able to lead those in her realm to a deep understanding of their inheritance as children of God. This sees to it, that they can grasp a hold of, and access, what our Heavenly Father promises us (both in this life and the one to come), including:
- Provision of needs and protection (Genesis 9:3, Luke 12:24, Exodus 16, Psalm 84:11)
- Healing, health and wholeness in every area of our being (Jeremiah 30:17, Luke 8:50, Psalm 41:3, Exodus 15:26, 3 John 1:2)
- Peace and security (Numbers 6:24-26, Philippians 4:7, John 14:27, Psalm 18:32, Proverbs 19:23)
- Hope (Jeremiah 29:11-13, Romans 8:28, Psalm 27:13)
- and so much more!
Character and blessing
A wife of noble character brings her husband (and others) good and not harm all the days of his (their) life.
This point personally resonates with me from a position of prayer. A few years ago, I read this verse and realised that whilst I’m single, I still have the opportunity to do this each and every day (even when I don’t know who or where he is). I felt God prompt me to live in a way which would honour and not bring shame upon this man who I’m to walk beside in life, family and ministry. Furthermore, I felt called to be prayerful over him and his life. While I don’t yet know who he is, God does, and my prayers can powerfully and effectively influence his life for good today. If you visit: https://garmentsofsplendor.com/35-scriptures-to-pray-over-your-husband-with-free-prayer-calendar/ you’ll find a list of 35 scriptures you can pray over your current/future husband (1 for each day of the month, and a few extras!).
Want to read about some others who brought good and not harm to those in their life, by living from a place of godly character? Check out these stories…
- The woman with the alabaster jar of perfume and Jesus (Mark 14:3-9)
- Boaz and Ruth (Ruth 2:1; 3:11)
- The noble planner (Isaiah 32:8)
- The courageous midwives (Exodus 1:17)
Well, beautiful ladies… we’ve read of noble character and now it’s our turn. Here’s a few tips for how we can live this out in our day to day lives:
- Renew our minds by fixing our eyes firmly on Jesus (Romans 12:1-2) and things pertaining to life and godliness (Philippians 4:8)
- Develop our heart to become more like Jesus and expectant for seeing Him move (1 Kings 18:41, 43-45)
- Learn preparedness (by being in His Word) (Acts 17:11) and perseverance (just as Joseph did)
- Be moldable, as clay is in the potter’s hands (Jeremiah 18:6). Yield to His will (Luke22:42).
- Set up memorial stones of God’s goodness (I find a gratitude journal/app is helpful) (Joshua 4:1-7)
- Be faithful (Matthew 25:23)
- Choose purity (Matthew 5:8) and gentleness (1 Peter 3:3-4, Proverbs 15:1)
- Develop the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)
Returning to my cake decorating story… When creating my icing icons, if the image wasn’t as close as perfect as I could get it, I’d put the icing back into a ball and start again. This makes me think of our own progress in developing godly character – at times, we have to ‘start over’ in a particular area, in order to realign ourselves with Christ’s model for living, so that our thoughts, speech and actions reflect Him. Thus, it’s important that we live a repented life (1 John 1:9, Acts 3:19), and also be forgiving towards those who miss the mark when they relate to us (Colossians 3:13, Luke 6:37, Ephesians 4:32). The beauty of this… God extends us the grace to do so! (and we can offer this gift of grace to others too).
“Let all that we do, be done in love.”
(1 Corinthians 16:14)
Next month, we shall talk more about learning to love others as Christ does.
Scripture references: The Holy Bible (various translations)
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