Thursday, October 25, 2012

Character Part I

My first year in the economics PhD program, was both successful and difficult. The worst part of the year was how I turned my back on communion with God. Of course there were excuses, the most frequent being, "too busy". But, it is time for renewed attention. I have been listening to Andy Stanley podcasts called "Character under Construction".  He has a great capacity for teaching; and, listening to these sermons has been an encouragement to an ongoing project: the renovation of my heart.

What does it mean to have good character? Stanley defines character as doing what is right, as God defines right, no matter the cost. But, how can we know, "what is right, as God defines right"? This requires surrender and renewal.

First, the surrender part is a statement that, "I can't but He can" ---the acknowledgement that when we attempt to rededicate our will or make ourselves we become better versions of ourselves, not necessarily more like Jesus. This falls short of the Christian goal to gain in our likeness with Christ until we can say, as Paul wrote, "I no longer live but Christ lives in me" (Galatians 2:20).

Second, what is renewal and how can it help to obtain good character? Renewal is to make new again. To do this we must take off the old and put on the new (Ephesians 4:22-24, Mark 2:22). In fact, we are told in Paul's letter to the Romans,
"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is ---his good, pleasing, and perfect will." (Romans 12:2)       
So we can know "what is right as God defines right" because the Bible tells us when our mind is renewed that we can "test and approve". That sounds awesome! How does renewal happen? How do we become transformed? "I can't but He can". You can't manufacture character it is produced with a life spent abiding in Christ (John 15).

To cultivate character we should be people focused on association, not imitation.

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