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What Does It Mean To Have Christian Character?

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Introduction: Defining Character

Stephen Covey wrote a book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People in which he stated the modern mistake of those striving to be successful is their lack of priority towards character ethic traits. From 1776-1926, approximately 65% of the literature was focused on character ethics. From Post-WWI to the present day, the focus is placed on personality ethics. Character ethic traits focus on things like: integrity, humility, fidelity, temperance, courage, justice, patience, industry, simplicity, modesty, and the golden rule. Personality ethics focuses on public image, attitudes and behaviors, skills and techniques, human and public relations techniques, and positive mental attitude.
What happens when a person focuses on their personality traits more than there character ethics traits? This was Jesus’s criticism of the Pharisees, and religious leaders of his day (Matthew 23:1-36; Mark 12:38-40; Luke 11:37-52, 20:45-47). In our day, the most successful individuals and respectable figures have incredible personality traits. They are gifted human beings. However, the opportunity one has to exemplify those traits are cut short and spoiled by the lack of character ethic traits. Such was the case with the religious leaders of Jesus’s time (Matthew 23:37-39).
On Sunday, we discussed the life of Job. One of the things we did not discuss is the message of character in the story of Job. One of the biblical ideas concerning character is that suffering leads to great character (Romans 5:3-4). Obviously, Job demonstrated incredible character throughout his experience, and perhaps, this was the intended point of such a traumatic experience. For, we can never have too much character. However, I may also consider that it was not at all the point to produce character, in Job’s case. Rather, it was to prove the character that is already there. So then, endurance, testing, and trials can accomplish two things, in regards to character:
Strengthen one’s character
Prove one’s character
The Greek word for character is δοκιμή. This word means to try to learn the genuineness of something by examination and testing, often through actual use—‘to test, to examine, to try to determine the genuineness of, testing (BDAG). The noun dokimē is used to describe Christian character as the quality of being approved/proven or of having stood the test (Rom 5:4; 2 Cor 2:9; 9:13; Phil 2:22) (Lexham).
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised (Character)
The Greek noun dokimḗ is derived from the adjective dókimos, “approved,” “tried and true,” “genuine,” and thus connotes successful endurance of testing.

The moral and mental features that define a person, whether good or evil. The term also means moral strength, which Scripture regards as something to be highly valued.

Characteristics Believers Should Possess

Believers should be compassionate, Col 3:12 See also Ps 112:4; 1Pe 3:8
Believers should be humble 1Pe 5:5 See also Isa 29:19; Php 2:3; Col 3:12; 1Pe 3:8
Believers should be joyful Php 4:4 See also Ro 12:12; 15:13; 1Th 5:16
Believers should be loving 1Jn 4:7 See also Gal 5:22; Col 3:14; 1Th 4:9
Believers should be content Php 4:11 See also 1Ti 6:6-8; Heb 13:5
Believers should be holy Dt 7:6; 1Pe 1:15-16 See also Ro 12:1-2; Col 3:12; Heb 12:14
Believers are to be poor in spirit Mt 5:3
Believers are to be meek Mt 5:5
Believers are to be merciful Mt 5:7 See also Lk 6:36; Ro 12:8; Jas 3:17
Believers are to be pure in heart Mt 5:8 See also 2Co 11:2-3; Php 1:10; 1Ti 5:22; 2Ti 2:22
Source: Manser, M. H. (2009). Dictionary of Bible Themes: The Accessible and Comprehensive Tool for Topical Studies. Martin Manser.
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