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Building Character In Your Life (Part 1. What is Character?)

Updated on April 14, 2017

Although this article is in a series, it is a Complete study on its own. (1 of 2 in series)

* all [bracketed] words in Scripture verses are mine *

Do you consider yourself a person of character? Has anyone ever had a discussion with you about the concept of personal Character? I venture the odds are better that no one has discussed character with you where personal character was defined as anything supernatural. Some parents will tell their children to "be good" or "don't hurt or offend anyone." But the concept of personal character is left up to the children to try to discover. My parents never mentioned the concept of character to me. To them, a good person is one that listens and obeys their religion and their religious leader's rules. But character is not clinging to religion or obedience to some group's list of rules to live by.

Think for a moment of a person that you truly admire. What attracts you to that person? Is it good looks and charm? or is it the power of their presence and their handle on life? Is it how life treats them? or is it how they treat life? Why is it that some people while facing the trials and troubles of this life are crushed by them while others triumph, even making the struggle look easy?

The difference is summed up in one little word - character. What is this thing called character? We are going to look at what makes up character in an individual, its importance to us, and how we may begin to build it into our lives. What does God think of a man or woman that has character? Look at a statement describing individuals with little or no character and note God's reaction to their manner of life:

"I know your works [evidence of character], that you are neither hot nor cold, I wish that you were cold or hot. So then because you are lukewarm I will vomit you out of my mouth. Because you say, "I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing - and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked." (Revelation 3:15-17)

Now see God's reaction to a man of true character:

"But he [Stephen], being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God." (Acts 7:55-56)

Did you notice that people without character sicken God? Also, it seems, a person with bad character is preferable to a person with no character, in God's eyes. I believe that is because God can influence a person that is honest with themselves even if they are skewed in reasoning from time to time. A person with no principle at all is true to nothing and is unreachable until they begin to change and accept that there are things for which one could or should stand. And did you see the difference when God took note of a man of worthy character? All references to Jesus in His resurrected glory refer to Him as seated on the right hand of God. Jesus actually stood out of respect to honor Stephen and the way he died! What a difference character makes!

What makes up a person of "worthy" character? Can a person of any age build character into their lives? How will having "good" or "bad" character traits affect a person's future eternally and their quality of life now?

There are six principle qualities that make up the character in an individual: three outward qualities that are visible to all and three inward qualities that are not so easy to see. Let us examine these inward qualities first so that we may understand this very important piece of life's puzzle.

The Inward Characteristics of Character.

1. God's Holy Spirit Indwelling A Man's Heart is the first building block of the character of an individual. The world would have you believe that by using any standards a person feels right for himself, an individual can be a person of worthy character. That simply is not true. God Himself, is the only One who can make it possible to think, act, feel, and process information differently than what is natural for man. Natural man has only his flesh as a resource to process and to react to life. The flesh is fraught with sin and can never really be trusted. God sets the standard for what are right and what are wrong patterns of behavior. The carnal man cannot live a Godly life.

"But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1Corinthians 2:14)

"For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. "Eat and drink!" he says to you, but his heart is not with you." (Proverbs 23:7)

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)

But when a person believes in God and receives His Son, he becomes able by God's indwelling Spirit to live a life that will glorify God and have an impact on others. Also receiving God's salvation makes it possible to release control to God. The natural man not only resists this but resents the very idea of it. They laugh at the idea of living with any guidelines other than their own. Why should God control my life? Why shouldn't I control my own destiny? The man with character realizes that God is omniscient and knows everything. It is foolish to throw yourself headlong into the abyss when eyes are given you to see and a mind (of Christ) is given you to straighten out the errors that will cause such an end.

Once we have the Holy Spirit indwelling our heart we realize that the releasing of control is the central issue of the Christian day-to-day life.

2. Releasing Control is the second element of character. Little by little, a new Christian learns how to yield his life and will to the Lord, allowing God to control him, his thoughts, his actions, his reactions. This process is most often done slowly and many times with us kicking and screaming all the way. The Lord God teaches us to give up trying to control what we can't control, so we can attain the unattainable. That is called being "filled with the Spirit."

"And do not be drunk with wine [controlled by wine] in which is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit [controlled by the Holy Spirit]." (Ephesians 5:18)

Constant filling or control by the Spirit of God over you is commanded (not suggested) for all Christians but most people never release control of themselves to God to do His will. God will not wrest control from you. People who reject God's control would rather fail in their own power than have victory in Christ. A person of character trusts God and releases their control on life. Each time a person takes a step toward God controlling his life, each time he releases his grip a little, it affects his attitude and it's easier to let go. Though while in these bodies of sin, we will never be totally free of the impulse to seize control back from God, the person of character is able to do this the majority of the time affecting his total attitude.

3. The Total Attitude of a person of character is different than the rest of the world or even his own attitude that he had prior to salvation. His/her mind becomes totally focused on Christ Jesus and God's will. This new attitude permeates all of the mind and every bit of thinking is affected. This individual measures every thought and action against the sole rule of truth and practice, the Bible. As soon as [she] realizes that her attitude is out of alignment with God's Word, she adjusts it to bring Christ back into sharp focus. Because of this dramatic inner change, [he] is referred to as a "new creature in Christ." The thoughts are no longer from below but from above.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." (2 Corinthians 5:17)

The Outward Characteristics of Character.

As the world looks on and believes it knows the nature and actions of man, the Christian is a continual puzzlement to him. What is it about the Christian anyway? Why do they seem so different?

1. The Christian's Manner of Life is noticeably different to a person of the world. The Bible calls this a person's walk. Changes on the inside of the heart cause him or her to behave in a manner that people see as unusual. His worldly associates sense the Spirit many times before he speaks a word to them about his inward change. I've heard people say, "There's something strange about you." Indeed, there is some unseen aspect to the Christian that makes the world uneasy, even uncomfortable. That "unseen aspect" is Christ. Things that most people consider as unattainable ideals are somewhat a part of his everyday life, such as being able to love your neighbor and forgive your enemies. The Christian's love for his brother (and subsequently for his neighbor) was spoken of by Jesus. He said that love would serve as a signal marker to the world that an individual is a genuine possessor of Christ.

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this, all will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35)

A person of worthy character puts an action to the love that was given him at salvation. A person with character sees the needs of people around them and gives of themselves to help those less fortunate than they. This person will see to their physical needs and their spiritual needs as well. Though the loaf of bread he bestows to the hungry man may prolong that man's life, the words of life that proceed from the person of character are priceless, pointing that same man to an eternity of life with God.

2. The Manner of Speech also betrays the character of an individual. The person of character will speak words that others will refer to as "talking about God" even when he doesn't mention God at all. The content of his speech is altered by "thus sayeth the Lord." He is mindful that God listens and holds man accountable for every idle word, so the person of character makes every word count. He speaks with an "attitude of God" in his words, caring how they will affect his testimony to others. He tries to encourage at all times, pointing his brothers and others to Christ as the answer for all life's dilemmas.

3. The Goals and Accomplishments of a person of character often disturb the unsaved as much as the things he says. The release of control to God, by the Christian, leads him on paths that most people would never choose for themselves. Does the person of character want silver or gold? Yes, but he wants it in heaven. Does she want honor? Yes, but she wants it from her Lord when she sees Him face to face. This is so strange to the unbeliever. How can the Christian live his whole life based on things he can't see? What the world can't understand is that a man of worthy character sees the hidden things of God.

Dear Reader In part 2 I have written the way to the first step of building character in your life. But in case you choose not to read that second half, I will put the basics here as well:

As I noted above the first thing someone needs to be a person of character is the Holy Spirit of God indwelling him. God has made this an easy thing to ask for. The only prerequisite for this thing to occur is to believe that you are a sinner incapable of getting to heaven on your own. Jesus came to earth to die, to give His life's blood for you so that you will not have to die and be separated from God for all eternity. If you know that God has the way of life and are willing to change your way of living for God's way, you may ask Jesus to save you. Pray this:

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner. I believe that Jesus come to earth to die for my sin. I believe that He died, was buried, and rose again for me. I am willing to listen to You Jesus and change my life's path. Please forgive me of my sin and save me. Thank you, Jesus. I pray this in Your name. Amen.

Other in this series of independent articles:

Building Character In Your Life (Part 2.What Are Christian Values?)



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    • no body profile image
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      Robert E Smith 3 years ago from Rochester, New York

      Thank you for motivating me to look at the article again. I corrected a lot of typos (like I said, I wrote it a long time ago) and then I made a note to fill in some gaps in the logic. I didn't think it was wrong per say, just not as explanatory as it should have been. All such commentary from you Dear Lady, is very much appreciated. It makes me feel much affection and gratitude. Love, Bob.

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      Debra Allen 3 years ago from West By God

      Ha! My friend is in Jail and needs some character growth. She is only 22! About the tweaking, I wrote many hubs and used them on other places and had to tweak all of them because what I read that I wrote, seemed like I was drunk when I wrote and published them. LOL I am growing too in my writing and I can tell!

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      Robert E Smith 3 years ago from Rochester, New York

      Thank you for relaying it to your friend Dear Lady. It is okay, no two people can agree about everything. I will check it over though. I wrote this a long time ago and maybe it needs a tweak or two. I appreciate you and your opinions. Bob.

    • Lady Guinevere profile image

      Debra Allen 3 years ago from West By God

      I read this and do not agree with some of it. Thank you for putting this out though as I do know someone who can use it.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 3 years ago from london

      So true.

      Stay blessed my Brother.

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      Robert E Smith 3 years ago from Rochester, New York

      Thank you Manatita44, The thought of a person of character, presupposes that there is a standard of behavior of which to conform. It makes the assertion that a person that does not make an effort to have qualities of this fiber demonstrated in their lives, then there is something lacking. I believe that is why people would have the term "character" stricken from the list of common beliefs. But a spiritual person understands that we all live under the same God who does have standards, that a good person is good because he knows God and performs things in his life of which God would approve. Thank you so much for your comment and for reading. I really appreciate it. Bob.

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      manatita44 3 years ago from london

      Nicely written. I like the idea of surrender. Truly commendable.

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      Robert E Smith 5 years ago from Rochester, New York

      Thank you Carol for letting me know you were blessed. I need encouragement too. It is good to hear when others are helped by the words written. God bless, Bob.

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      Carol 5 years ago

      Awesome teaching! Thanks for the help... making it understandable and practical.

      God Bless

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      Robert E Smith 6 years ago from Rochester, New York

      What a gracious sister you are. Such respect I have for you. Such affirmation each time it blesses your heart. Love you too, dear sister.

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      Pastor Dr. Carlotta Boles 6 years ago from BREAKOUT MINISTRIES, INC. KC

      Love this Hub, love the six principals, LOVE YOU! Excellent Hub!!!! Voted-Awesome!!!!

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      Robert E Smith 6 years ago from Rochester, New York

      You can call me Bob. I thank you for reading and am happy you liked it. I am honored you started following. May the writing always bless your heart.

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      sairakhan 6 years ago from Bombay , India

      Nice sharing Mr. nobody.I have started following you.

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      Robert E Smith 6 years ago from Rochester, New York

      There is a link at the bottom of the article. Don't know if it was there before but it is now. Hope part 2 is a blessing as well. bob.

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      A Student of the Gospel 6 years ago

      Hi

      Where can I find part 2 of building Charter?

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      Robert E Smith 6 years ago from Rochester, New York

      Praise God that you found Him! You have been reborn, now is the time to live for Him. Tell others what happened to you. Tell them how you realized you were a sinner and how you by faith asked Jesus to save you. Now is the time to build treasure in heaven. Make the Lord happy. I know I am!

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      A Student of the Gospel 6 years ago

      You just blessed, Soul by allowing God to use you in this Charter Lesson. Thank you for allow God to show you the hidden things, for the hidden things blesses his lost children.

      I was lost, but now I found!!!!

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      Robert E Smith 7 years ago from Rochester, New York

      I'm so happy you were encouraged by this. I believe that character is something that people used to talk about and teach but has been lost with the times. Parents need to teach it and people need to think about it even when they're grown. All things are possible in Christ.

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      Sarah 7 years ago from Washington

      Character! comes from overcoming adversity in our lives, by the Grace of God! Character builders!!!

      Thank you for the encouraging hub!

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      Robert E Smith 7 years ago from Rochester, New York

      I thank you for reading. Love ya lots Julie. You have an honesty that is refreshing, even when I disagree with you I can still love you for being honest with everyone. You know I pray for you all the time. Blessings Bob.

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      Julie Grimes 7 years ago from Columbia, MO USA

      Perfect, I have backlinked this hub in one of mine. Bob I love your messages and writing styles!!! Ooooo's

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      Robert E Smith 7 years ago from Rochester, New York

      Let me tell you dear, you have character because the Bible words spoke to you. You are a work in progress. Your husband is a blessed man. The first thing you do is begin to talk to God with a continual mind thought speak. If you hear your thoughts caught on complaining or something that wastes time you could be speaking your heart to your Lord stop it and give your mind to Him. He will begin to bring things into your life that increases your character. Another thing is that the pain that you have lived through has put character in you. A way of relating to God and other people that is unique to you. Your wonderful personality is needed to speak to people that only will listen to you because you were given the character to do it. You have wisdom. I read it and you are a good woman. I will pray for you my sister. With much Christian love. Your brother. Bob.

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      CoCoa_81 7 years ago from Shreveport, Louisiana

      I sit and think of what i've just read here and realize that I don't know my own character. I try my best to be good in what I know of righteousness, not saying that I don't make mistakes. I know that i'm a good person that is striving for excellence, yet i'm stuck on the character issue. It's time for me to do some soul searching within myself. Thank you! If I had not read this very informative page it wouldn't have crossed my mind.

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      Robert E Smith 8 years ago from Rochester, New York

      I agree. Most of the people I know and Christians never speak of such things. Young people act like they never heard of the term before and as if it is not even at play in today's modern world. Thank you for stopping in and it really means a lot to me, brother. How are you doing? I pray everything is ok. Love you.

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      Peter V 8 years ago from At the Beach in Florida

      Very applicable. I especially agree with the part about how our character is reflected in our speech. Thank you for writing on this because i think it is such an important topic, especially today.

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      Robert E Smith 8 years ago from Rochester, New York

      I am almost done with the next part. It is the values of a Christian. I hope it is received well.

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      coffeesnob 8 years ago

      I can never get enough of this topic. It seems the more I read on it the more I learn. It is like a never-ending story-always new avenues to understand. I am so glad you wrote on Character. It is important to understand that our walk with Christ demands good and noble character. I will have to go back and read again. The six principles were excellent. Thanks, friend.

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      Robert E Smith 8 years ago from Rochester, New York

      I am almost done with it now. Thank you for reading it and your wonderful comments. I love you brother.

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      thefount 8 years ago from North Central Louisiana

      I think it is marvelous that somebody would take the time out to focus Christians on this subject. Character-building in Christ plays a vital role to the success of a Believer's walk. Thank you, and I'm looking forward to your next segment! Continue To Be Blessed!

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      Robert E Smith 8 years ago from Rochester, New York

      Judah's Daughter, my precious, precious sister. This has been on my heart for a while. I've been seeing how we as Christians can treat each other and thought how character plays a role in our lives. I'm glad you were blessed by it. My heart beats for the brethren and longs to increase their numbers around the throne of grace. I love you lots.

      DeBorrah, looks like I get to tell another sister in the Lord that I love her and that I'm glad you were blessed by the hub. Praise the Lord for you and know you make me happy. Love you sister.

    • DeBorrah K. Ogans profile image

      DeBorrah K Ogans 8 years ago

      Thank you for these inspiring words of wisdom. FAITH and TRUST in GOD are the most valuable assets we can ever possess. When you have Him it is through Jesus Christ we can access all that we will ever need...

      It is my prayer to continuously grow daily in the Grace and Knowledge of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and apply His principles in my life. Praise God for discernment!

      Blessings

    • Judah's Daughter profile image

      Judah's Daughter 8 years ago from Roseville, CA

      Oh, I love this piece, brother! Praise God. I seek to be a woman of character, and have come to understand what builds character is the testing of our faith! Rejoice! God bless you; you are such a fine example of our Lord in this world. I love you, brother ~ give my love to the family. Hugs!!!