As the father of your children and husband of your wife, you are the leader. The things that are needed for your family center on strengthening and building up your character as a higher priority, not to the exclusion of your basic roles of provision, protection and nurturing. But, inclusive to them – you must be doing all of these things. I would say, though, that character is a seed ‘condition; of your life / self / existence. Your character is your personal standards for right conduct which manifest themselves in your life – your attitudes, affections and behaviors.
Character is the foundational / root / seed condition of your life, and it is the thing that you must, by example and by education and training, build into your wife and children. Without building character into yourself and into them, you are pursuing a fool’s errand and do so to your ultimate harm. I would define character as the visible working out of the sum total of the appetites, convictions, virtues and vices that any individual has… and therefore one may have a good character or a bad character. We are aiming, obviously, for good character.
How do you grow your character? Through the simple Biblical concept of repentance.
What are the benefits of repentance? I am listing a few key concepts here:
- Clean heart and conscience – how many problems are in our lives as a result of an unclean conscience? A clean conscience results in a freshness of life and purpose that denying the truth, suppressing the truth, or lying about the truth can never have.
- Hatred of sin and iniquity – when you are clean, it becomes an odious thing for you to get dirty again… you hate it. You begin to hate not only the sin of others, but you especially hate sin in yourself. You work to eradicate it from your life.
- Thinking – you grow in capability of being able to distinguish right from wrong and generally, the capability of distinguishing grows to include all of your life and every aspect of it.
- Growth in character – you become more like God when you love the things He loves and hate the things He hates. It is healthy for you to grow in character.
- Joy – You are joyful because of the forgiveness that God has granted to you! You also get to a point where you are happy when He brings trials into your life, because you know that He is faithful to His word – to root out the evil from our own lives. The evil in our lives can rightfully be called evil, because of the myriad of things we do throughout the day that violate His character in the things we think, say and do that are against who God is.
The Process of Repentance:
- Acknowledging iniquity of the sin before God, Who is Holy. Unless and until you have seen that the specific sin you have committed is against God, it is impossible to grow past it.
- Confession and restitution, to whatever degree possible, of the sin to the relevant persons you have sinned against.
- Seek and determine what you can do to insure that you will not do the sin again.
- Perform number 3
- Cultivate love for the good that is opposite of the sin that you committed: As an example, if your sin is gluttony, the opposite behavior would be self control of your appetite. One way of doing this ‘mental judo’ which, by the way, is an entirely appropriate metaphor since you are seeking the death of your sinful nature, is to see this process as a sport.
Ultimately, you are to determine which attitudes and behaviors led to that sin and resolve not to do those things again. What things have you been cultivating and did you cultivate and allow to be cultivated which precipitated your sin? Remember that you are the one who is responsible for having committed it.
May God bless you as you grow in your character through repentance.
First posted on November 7, 2013, updated on June 15, 2014.