Character is something we all want in leaders. We want it for our children. We desire it for ourselves. But do we know how to develop it? We know it when we see it, but in our world we can't seem to agree on what it is.
For those who follow Jesus, character is not forged by moral muscle. What do I mean by that? Character that is only described as being good or trying to be good misses the mark. Jesus told one man that only God is good. The apostle Paul said that we have all fallen short of God's ideal. So should we just give up?
Character is shaped by being around people who have good character and have our best interests at heart. That perfectly describes Jesus. Do you ever feel you just can't make it, that your default is to focus on how good or bad you are doing? The Gospel of Jesus is good news. The focus is off our anxious striving and on what God is doing. Our role is to trust God in the process.
Will you trust him now right in the middle of all you are facing? Do you believe is working all things for your good? Then draw near to him. Take great delight in being with God. By knowing him more, you take on more of his character. The more you persistently draw near God and trust him with every part of your life, the more you become like Jesus. There is great freedom here. The effort now in not about trying to please anyone or prove to anyone how good you are. Now the effort goes into relentlessly trusting God and the process he is taking you through.
The "fruit" or character of God is called the "fruit" of the Spirit of God. We simply trust him. Then work to keep everything in our lives focused on his great love for us. God, then, produces the character of Jesus in us by his very Spirit!
I love the Message version of this passage in Matthew: