God’s Transforming Promises – Christian Character

A central truth is that living in a right relationship with God enables us to live in a right relationship with others and ourselves. This righteousness begins and ends with love. This righteousness is a choice to make and becomes our character.

 

Article by Dr. Les Hollon, Pastor, Trinity Baptist Church, Edited by Dee DeWitt

 

Christian character, as noted by Richard Foster, is formed by “the habit of moral excellence.”  From our character we make decisions which shape our life.  From our character we choose how to use our time, spend our money, and invest our talents.

 

From our character we form our attitudes by which we respond to surprises, challenges and pain.  From our character we set our comfort zones, mold our preferences and connect with people.  From our character we are known by others, held accountable by God, and feel good or bad about ourselves.  Therefore, getting our character right is essential.

 

God promises to help us get it right.

 

Character is influence by nurture and nature, but formed by attitude and action.  Ultimately, we choose our character and our character determines our destiny.  A wise early Christian, Iraenaus, said “God is ready to assume full responsibility for a life totally yielded to Him.”  Placing ourselves into the hands of our Maker means we can be molded by God’s best … grace for our do-overs, inner joy for trumping our troubles, holy purpose for granting meaning to daily tasks, and laughter for easing our tears.

 

The tail of character formations unfolds by charting the connecting points of:  desire defining a thought; thought becoming an action; action shaping a habit; habit forming a character trait; character setting our destiny; and destiny determining our eternity.  Jesus peers into our soul and sees the origins of our character by noting that “where our heart is there is our treasure also.”

My family was in the Dallas/Fort Worth airport when Vicki, Rachel, Ryan and I agreed that the soon to be born next member of our family would be named Steven …

 

One of the factors at play for me was my gratitude & respect for the courageous leader of the early church – Stephen.  His influence ripples from the first century into our century.  His story is told in Acts 6 & 7:

 

Stephen’s virtuous life was formed by “the habit of moral excellence.”  He did the right thing for the right reasons.  His gut desire was to be a person with Christlike character.  Why?  Because he trusted Christ and wanted his life to be a Christlike extension in the world.

 

From Stephen we can learn several lessons in how we can become people of Christian character:

 

Desire God’s best for all people in all situations, including yourself.  God will honor your desire by making you the best you can be.  People will know you as person of integrity.

 

Live from the inside out.  Don’t try to get your soul cleaned up in order to become Christlike.  But let Christ clean you up and then you will be living through His character strength.  You will be known as a person of transforming power.  (Acts 6:8)

 

Trust God’s promises and you will be known as a trustworthy person.  Trust God’s ways as your way and you won’t be afraid to do right and speak the truth. (Acts 7:1-2)

 

Be a person of noble influence and your influence will live far beyond your earthly life.  You will be known as a noble witness (which means “martyr” in Greek) for God. (Acts 7: 60 – 8:1)

 

Let your moral vision for right and wrong be clear.  Live a life characterized by moral excellence … for a central truth is that living in a right relationship with God enables us to live in a right relationship with others and ourselves.  This righteousness begins and ends with love.  This righteousness is a choice to make and becomes our character.

 

Pastor Les Hollon

 

Stephen Seized

Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia. These men began to argue with Stephen, but they could not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke.

Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, “We have heard Stephen speak words of blasphemy against Moses and against God.”

So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. They produced false witnesses, who testified, “This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us.”

All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

- Acts 6:8-15 (NIV)

 

But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.

While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.

- Acts 7:55-60 (NIV)

 

This article was written by Les Hollon, Pastorof Trinity Baptist Church.  For more information about God and your place in His world, contact Dr. Hollon, click over to Trinity Baptist Church.

 

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Posted on 27 April, 2010 in Inspirational Stories, Spirituality
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