Growing up, someone said to have a ‘Bad Character’, was, well, ‘Bad.’ I often heard how it was important to have a ‘Good Character’ and I must confess that, at that time, I really didn’t understand what the term meant. As I matured, I noticed that the label ‘Character’ (Good or Bad) was attached to folk in a somewhat subjective manner.
Throughout the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, Good vs. Bad are contrasted. In Galatians 5, the apostle Paul speaks about a contrasting antonym - ‘Flesh’ vs. ‘Spirit’. In verse 17, he says, “For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh.”
In verses 19-21 - Paul describes the Character attributes of ‘The Flesh’. Then in verses 22, 23 - He describes the Character attributes of those who walk in ‘The Spirit’. Let me share those attributes with you: 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
So, are we just stuck with ‘Labels’? Some folk are ‘Good’, others ‘Bad’? This battle between the ‘Flesh’ and the ‘Spirit’ takes place within everyone. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Paul further defines these two, Gal. 5:24 - “And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” ‘Those who are Christ’s’ - those who belong to Christ, possess the Character attributes of the ‘Spirit’. Who gives you the power to “crucify the flesh with its passions and desires.”
Paul described this process in Galatians 2:20 - “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
God doesn’t want you to be continually stuck in a life of hurt. He wants to give you the character attributes of the ‘Spirit.’ He wants to give you joy, happiness and hope. In one place he tells us, “God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? (Numbers 23:19) Later, Jesus said, “... I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
Character Counts. Won’t you take a moment to ask him to help ground your character in His own? So that you can have the life Jesus offers you — more abundantly, more richly, more amply, more lavishly: Better!
Kevin McDaniel is pastor of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Glendive. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.