2 Peter 1:5-9
In this Boundaries series we have been slicing into areas of our lives that need attention, areas where we need to establish boundaries and have the freedom to say “no”. But there’s one area where we may be waiting for God to do what He has asked us to do: build character.
God wants to change our lives and our way of living. He wants us to be set free and stay free. That means we should deal with the problems in our character that got us enslaved in the first place.
There is no prayer that can instantly do this. We need to decide to make changes and build good habits day by day, just like a wall is build brick by brick.
Jesus doesn’t always set us free from things all at once because as we resist again and again, we build character. Aristotle said “We are what we repeatedly do”. The Holy Spirit is not “the Doer”, He is “the Helper” and if we work on our character, He will help us.
The New Testament has some amazing lists on character.
Peter’s list: (2 Peter 1:5-7)
Giving all diligence, add to your faith - decide not to stop at God’s grace but to work on your character.
Add virtue which means moral excellence - Jesus’ sacrifice does not mean we have a free licence to do things that displease God. A good character is priceless. Make it your goal to be an upright person.
Add knowledge - Peter the fisherman knew that if he was to navigate life in the church, he would need to further his education. A lack of knowledge can defraud you of many good things. For example, American slave owners banned slaves from reading because if they could read, they would learn the law that freed them.
Add self-control - Some people have a gifting greater than their character can endure which leads to all kinds of misery. A lack of self-control can ruin your life.
Paul urges us to judge ourselves first (Romans 2:1). Ps Phil shared that he used to audit himself every month (his spending habits, his speech, his family relationships etc) and then apply diligence to those areas that scored the lowest. His goal was to work on his character and constantly improve. Challenge yourself to start with focusing on improving one area of your life for the next 30 days.
Add perseverance which means to keep going when you don’t want to, to hold on through the different speeds of life, to be predictable. This is so needed in our world! It’s ok to have this little aspect of boring in your life - people are generally uncomfortable around the unpredictable. Every day plod along and build that wall of character.
Add Godliness which is God-likeness - be the aroma of heaven on earth.
Add brotherly kindness - be kind and don’t judge.
Add love - the crowning trait is the love of God: love God, love people, love the unlovable and the difficult.
If these things are yours you will be fruitful. Fruitfulness is better than success, it is replicating what God has done in you, in others. This fruitfulness comes because we went to work on our lives and God came alongside us.
If these things are not yours it impacts your vision. In Judges, Samson was not a victim of some economic crisis or suffering from a lack of charisma. He had a lack of character and was driven by FOMO (fear of missing out) and he literally lost his sight as a result.
A fractured character takes your vision of a better future and you are doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over. Stop making excuses and work on your character flaws. It’s uncomfortable but it’s worth it.