Character. Virtue. What do these words bring to mind for you? A list of “perfect” qualities you don’t quite measure up to? A bunch of rules to live by that are never quite fully attainable? Descriptors that can only stick to the flawless, the grace-full, the mythical “other” Christians who aren’t quite as human as you?
This month, join me in a discussion of what it means to grow in virtue and what it takes to cultivate character. (Consider deepening your journey through this topic using the devotional book Cultivate Your Character.)
And begin with me at square one. Your efforts are required as you grow in virtue, but ultimately it is the work of God in your life.
Reflect on this encouragement from Ephesians 4:24: “[T]ake on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you” (The Message).
Is yours a God-fashioned life? Are you there, on the Woodworker’s table, letting him shape and sand and carve and bend you toward his purposes? All efforts to grow begin here — here at the workbench of the Master.
“Father in heaven! What is a man without Thee!” wrote Kierkegaard. “What is all that he knows, vast accumulation though it be, but a chipped fragment if he does not know Thee! What is all his striving, could it even encompass a world, but a half-finished work if he does not know Thee!”
Lord we will strive to obey your Word, to answer you call to a life of character. But Lord, we know our striving is nothing compared to the power of your grace and your Spirit working within us. Help us discover the way of the God-fashioned life. Amen.