Develop Godly Characteristics
Developing godly characteristics takes time. But you can get a head start. The fruit of the Spirit gives us a list of traits to strive for. By understanding what they are and intentionally practicing them, we can become beautiful from the inside out!
We are on week four of this series. If you haven’t read the first three articles yet, you can access them here:
Desire To Develop Godly Characteristics
The third step in becoming beautiful from the inside out is to seek to develop godly characteristics. As we mature in our faith and grow in love for Jesus and others, we become more like Jesus. We develop godly characteristics. Some will take time to develop. There are others we can learn more quickly by practicing them.
When we have a strong desire to obtain these qualities, we can intentionally strive to achieve them. There are steps we can take to develop them more quickly and deliberately.
Fruit of the Spirit
The Bible gives us a list of godly attributes in Galatians 5:22. These are referred to as the “fruit of the Spirit.” I’m sure you could find many more godly traits throughout the Bible but let’s start here.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” Galatians 5:22-26
The desire to emulate Christ’s characteristics in only the first step. Next, we need to choose one in particular that we want to work on.
This is a difficult one to define. There have been many who have tried. The definition I like the best is by Chip Ingram. He defines love as “Giving someone what they need the most when they deserve it the least, at great personal sacrifice.”
We tend to think we are loving others when we hug a friend or say the words, “I love you.” Yet, if we really think about it, we are getting something out of it as well. And it comes easy for us. But, truly showing love doesn’t always feel good for us. Truly showing love takes us out of our comfort zone. Truly showing love is loving our enemies or feeding the homeless, or visiting someone in the hospital.
Another good definition for love can be found in I Corinthians 13:4-8
“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”
It’s not easy to learn to love sacrificially. But, with practice, you can achieve it! Think about people you know or ones you come in contact with. Who has a need you could fill? Who needs you to love them today?
I talked about joy in the last article, The Joy of Loving Jesus. Joy is not the same as happiness. Happiness comes from circumstances and is only on the surface. You can experience joy in any circumstance. You can only achieve joy through an encounter with the living God. Joy wells up from the depths of your heart and spills over into your facial expressions and your actions.
In order to practice this characteristic, you need to spend a lot of time with God. Try going somewhere you can be alone and won’t be disturbed. Sit quietly and think about Psalms 46:10.
“Be still, and know that I am God.”
Remember that He love you very much! He loved you so much that…
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
When I think about God and all He is and then think about how He, in all His splendor and greatness, loves me…. Wow! Joy wells up in my soul!
The peace that comes from God encompasses us so fully that we can never understand it.
“…and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Phillipians 4:7
It is a peace that you can have even in the midst of chaos. God’s peace in our hearts can sustain us in difficult times. Wherever you are at, try closing your eyes, taking a deep breath, and praying, “Father, bring me Your peace in my heart.”
This can also be described as patience. It is listed as one of the characteristics of love in I Corinthians 13:4. When you love someone, you will put up with things that a lot of people wouldn’t. I have a friend, for instance, who has a lot of annoying habits. However, when he visits, I overlook them so that we can have an enjoyable time while he is here.
I want to make one thing very clear, however. Long-suffering in no way means that you have to put up with abuse! If you are in an abusive relationship and have a way out, take it! God never meant for us to have to endure physical or emotional/verbal abuse.
“Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called. Were you called while a slave? Do not be concerned about it; but if you can be made free, rather use it. For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ’s slave. You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called.”I Corinthians 7:20-24
Longsuffering, like patience, is a trait that has to be learned through suffering. If you are in a difficult situation, pray, seek God and His peace. Be a willing student; willing to learn from the situation. However, I would not recommend getting yourself intentionally into a bad situation to practice this.
I love kindness! Don’t you? Especially random acts of kindness. It is not expected. You may not even know the person. It’s random.
Did anyone ever give you a surprise? It was extra special because you weren’t expecting it. The surprise makes it even better!
Kindness is something that benefits both the giver and the receiver. It could even be anonymous. If you are giving from your heart, it gives you a good feeling. And, of course, whoever the kindness is bestowed upon will receive a blessing from it.
So, go out today and perform a random act of kindness for someone. I think once you try it, you will want to do it over and over again!
The dictionary definition for goodness is “that which is pleasing or valuable or useful; moral excellence or admirableness.” I would add honorable, respectable, beneficial.
“…walk in the way of goodness, and keep to the paths of righteousness. For the upright will dwell in the land, and the blameless will remain in it…” Proverbs 2:20-21
“A good man obtains favor from the Lord, but a man of wicked intentions He will condemn.” Proverbs 12:2
“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due when it is in your power to do so.” Proverbs 3:27
Being faithful means doing what you say you are going to do; consistently. People trust people they know will be responsible in their commitments.
Are you faithful in meeting your commitments? How can you be more faithful?
A soft answer turns away wrath. This doesn’t mean being a doormat. You can be strong in your convictions and beliefs and still be gentle.
Have you been harsh or critical where you could be gentle?
This means not letting your emotions and feeling dictate your actions. For example, some people overeat when they are stressed or anxious. Many people make poor choices when it comes to relationships when they allow their emotions to control them.
Is there an area of your life where you are not in control? Practice control in that area. Use a trigger to remind you. A note to yourself in the refrigerator. Or find an accountability partner to help you see things you are too emotional to see yourself. Make sure you listen to them when they point out areas where you need help.
Replace the Bad with the Good
It’s a choice. When you choose to give up something worldly, replace it with something intentional. Do a good deed or practice random acts of kindness.
Practice Makes Perfect
You have the desire. You have the list. Now choose one and practice it. When you have that one down, continue that and add another. The more you practice a skill, the easier it will come to you. God bless you as you seek to be more like Jesus!
If you haven’t read the first three articles in this series, you can access them here:
What makes us truly beautiful comes from within. It comes from our heart.