I've always thought it was important to have good character. As a homeschooling parent I have purchased Christian curriculum that was to aid me in building godly attributes into my developing adults. I thought this would produce good character. But I don't see it that way anymore. I am not against these curriculums, per se, but I do see something wrong with the way we approach good character.
I think that we are focusing on an end product we'd like to have, but haven't rightly got our eye on what the source of it is.
We might agree that the things listed in the verses below would be major proponents of what makes one have good character.
Galatians 5:22-23 (New Living Translation)
22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
Galatians 5:22-23 (Amplified Bible)
22But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness,
23Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [[a]that can bring a charge].
What I want you to notice is.....whose fruit is this? Who does the producing???
It is the fruit of the Spirit. It is He who produces it in our lives! It isn't by my own effort. It is a working of His Spirit.
When I got a grasp of that, it kinda shook me. I thought I just had to try harder to be good and kind, and particularly to have self-control. But that only produces goodworks, not necessarily good character.
In John 15:4-8 it gives the analogy of the vine, branches and fruit. Jesus says,
4Dwell in Me, and I will dwell in you. [Live in Me, and I will live in you.] Just as no branch can bear fruit of itself without abiding in (being vitally united to) the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in Me.
5I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing.
8When you bear (produce) much fruit, My Father is honored and glorified, and you show and prove yourselves to be true followers of Mine.
This is how I see my life now:
I need to abide in Jesus, and His Spirit will produce all the good character I need.
The more I am enveloped in Him, the more the fruit just shows up and multiplies. The branch doesn't have to focus on producing fruit, sending messages to 'grow, grow, grow'. The branch just needs to be well attached to the trunk/vine from which it gets its nourishment. The better that connection is, the better the sap can flow through the branch and it will naturally produce fruit without effort.
I believe that much of our struggles as Christians is because our gaze is redirected from the most important things, like abiding, and onto minor things. Yes, we need good character, but we don't get it or produce it in our lives by focusing on it. We produce it by abiding in Jesus. Rest in His Presence. Stop striving. Become a Sap-Sucker.
Question for You: Do you have particular things (ie, notes, certain chores, particular emotional feelings, etc) you use to remind you to get back to abiding?