I’ve been practicing my Lenten disciplines now for the last few weeks. In fact, I started this before Lent began, but I felt led to bring Lent into it, the idea of focusing on Christ during this time leading up to Easter. And so I’ve been practicing my Lenten disciplines–working out and studying God’s word and staying in prayer. Now, I want to be clear about something: This isn’t a 40 weight loss plan. I’m not doing this to loose anything but to gain Godly character.
I was speaking with a friend of mine yesterday and the topic of Godly character came up. What is Godly character? How do we obtain it? How do we keep it?
Godly character is the Fruit of the Spirit (notice Fruit is singular…just a pet peeve of mine)–peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These things are evidence that the Holy Spirit is working in you and through you. But these are things that we have to work at in our lives as well as we build Godly character.
And this is what the Lenten disciplines are all about–building Godly character. It is something we have to work at. I know for me I’m learning once again how out of shape I’ve become. Just a year and a half ago, I could lift and bench so much more than what I’m doing now. Over the last year and a half my muscles have atrophied. In other words, they’ve shrunk. They aren’t at the same power that they were back then. And so I have to work on them. I have to work on building them up once again.
The same is true with Godly character. We have to work on it. We have to build it up. We have to grow.
How do we do this?
“Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his purpose.” Philippians 2:12-13
We are to work on these things.
How do we do that? How do we work on these things? Lift it. Bench it. Press it. Hit it hard. Work on it.
“Whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things…put it into practice” Philippians 4:8-9
This is why Lenten disciplines are so important. They are building up Godly character. That is why, as I lift my weights, I focus on being healthy for God. Doing what Paul says in controlling my body so that I will be found worthy (1 Corinthians 9:27). The same is true with staying in God’s Word and prayer. I work hard at it. I keep at it so I will be found worthy.
All of this is to live my life for the glory of God. I want to build Godly character up in my life. Godly character is a character, a personality, a way of life, that reflects who God is and what he wants us to be like–like Jesus Christ in every way. By God’s grace go I. I want to live in such a way that God is glorified by who I am and what I do.
Character counts. Our character speaks volumes of who we are in Christ. We are given the Fruit of the Spirit but we also have to live out this Fruit in our lives, working at it to live this fruit, allowing the Holy Spirit to work in our lives to bear even more Fruit of the Spirit. As we work on it, the more Fruit we bear, the more Fruit we bear, the more like Christ we become. And it continues on to that.
How can you build up a Godly character this Lent following Lenten disciplines?