Day: May 21, 2016

Perfecting Character

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In John 17, Jesus prays for Himself, His disciples and all believers, but He doesn’t pray for the world (John 17:9). Why would the Person who taught that love was the greatest commandment not pray for the world? Why would the Person who never rejected sinners not pray for the world? Because He gave us as believers a responsibility to the world. He said that if we would become  one and be made  perfect, then the world will believe that God sent His Son and they will know that they are loved too (John 17:21,23).

I know some of us would rather just preach or teach a good word, but this is not what Jesus did. Even though He was the Word, He didn’t just give the people a word. When He preached, He preached in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. He cast out devils, healed the sick and raised the dead. He demonstrated forgiveness, compassion and love. While on earth, He didn’t just tell the disciples what to do, but He showed them how to do it. He showed them how it worked. He proved what He said to be true. Signs followed confirming the word He spoke.

The world will never know how much God loves them by our words, but by our deeds.

Most people practice before they sing or study the word before they preach, but let us not be people who learn to perfect our gifts, but refuse to perfect our character. Character is a set of qualities that make you different from others. It’s your reputation and it has to be built. Tribulation and trials builds patience. Patience (and perseverance) builds character  (Romans 5:3-4).

Jesus told us to be perfect even as our Father in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48). James never said that a perfect man was one who did no wrong or never made mistakes because we have all stumbled or offended in many things (James 3:2).  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us  (1 John 1:8). A perfect man is one who is mature and fully developed in godly character. Yes, we have all done things that we shouldn’t have done, but we were never made to be sin. Jesus became that. We were made to be the righteousness of God.

Paul said, Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect, but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus  (Philippians 3:12). He never said he was perfect. He made it very clear that he hadn’t learned all that he should, but he was still learning. He wasn’t all that God wanted him to be, but he was going to get there. He kept pressing. He kept striving for maturity and perfection. Even while in his ignorance, God didn’t give up on him and now he wasn’t going to give up. He set a goal and he was determined to reach it.

In Hebrews 6:1, Paul was admonishing immature believers to press on to maturity. It was time for them to grow up and to live like they were from the kingdom of God. As I examine myself today, I realize that God is still going over the same material that he taught me years ago. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that we don’t sometimes need a refresher course, but what He is teaching me is what I should have already been teaching others.  God shouldn’t be trying to convince me to have faith or to trust Him. I should be believing Him for everything now. He still shouldn’t be telling me what sins to stay away from. That’s elementary teaching. I know right from wrong. I know what pleases Him.

The spring commencement ceremonies have begun and at some point, God expects us to grow up and to graduate to the next class (or stage in Him). God knows what He has placed in each of us and He desires to speak to us as spiritual, not carnal and worldly children. We live in this world, but we do not belong to this world. We are citizens of heaven. It is our job to display Christ. How can they want Him if they can’t see Him? We are to conform to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29), not the world (Romans 12:2).

Jesus not only prayed for the disciples, but He gave them what His Father gave Him. He wasn’t self-seeking. He considered others more important than Himself. For their sakes I sanctified myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth  (John 17:19). Whatever we do for the Lord from this point forward, let us do it for His sake and for their sake.

Prayer: I pray for all believers today that we become the light of the world and give light to those who sit in darkness. May the love God had for His Son be in all believers. Father, help us to walk in love. Help us to want You more than the things we’ve been asking for. Lord, make us strong, make us wise, make us one and make us perfect in You. Help us to grow up and to become men and women who walk in truth, integrity and godly character, in Jesus’ name. Amen.