If there is one thing I have learned it is that building character takes time, and this is especially true concerning Christian character. The training Jesus gave the Twelve took time, and they were still not complete. The process takes a lifetime and the Lord wants to build His character in you over time. There are no shortcuts, no tricks of the trade to give you. It takes discipline to be a disciple, and there is no getting around that. But I am thankful we have the Sermon on the Mount in order to guide us the way the Disciples were guided by Jesus. There is no better way. There is no other way.
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope. (Romans 5:1-4, NASB, emphasis added).
The Bible teaches building character as a process of growth; there is a natural progression in this growth as seen in this passage. Notice the building blocks to Christian character is spelled out for us in the Scripture before us. If you seriously study the Sermon on the Mount you will notice it lays out each step in the process of growth. It starts with the Beatitudes stated in a natural progression, one building upon the other. Then what follows the Beatitudes in the Sermon is a test of the progress of Christian character development.
Peter also describes a growth process in his second epistle,
Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, and in your knowledge, perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. (2 Peter 1:3-9, NASB, emphasis added)
His divine power has granted to us (we can partake of the divine nature). The building blocks are given to us when we become children of the King. It is time to build. Again we see in Scripture a natural progression. It starts with the true knowledge of Him and ends with love – the Character of Christ.
Nothing in Scripture speaks character like the Sermon on the Mount. There is no clearer instruction of who the Christian should be then what is contained in Matthew chapters five through seven. Preserved for us in His Message are commands with Divine promises that we can apply to our lives. The Lord Himself teaches His disciples about Christian character through this discourse. Good character should be the foundation of every Christian life because character matters to men, and more importantly, it matters to the Master. This Sermon was given from the mouth of Jesus to His disciples. As in the time of the Twelve Disciples the call is given to us today: believers are being called to make a difference in this life – a life of exhibiting Christian character. We will study the first Beatitude and its application to character. We, like the Twelve, will sit and hear what the Lord desires for us, and starting with the knowledge of Him we start out in the progression from our passage. This knowledge of Him starts with prayerful study of His Word, the Bible.
Character – it matters.
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NKJV)
Commit yourself to the long process of Christian character process today knowing there are no short-cuts because there is a natural progression to be followed.