1 Corinthians - What is Christian Character?

What is Christian Character?  Character is Who We Are!  Christian Character is the basic characteristics that all Christians should have as they work, play, go to school, or anything they do in the world. But these characteristics are based on the values that God spells out in the Bible, not the values of the world they live in.  These are characteristics that you can and must develop in your own life to be a true Christian. 

Let's read what some of these qualities are from 2 Peter 1:5-9:

"And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue;  and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; 

and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;  and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins."


These verses teach us a lot of things that we need to add to our lives in order to make God happy and to withstand the winds and storms of life.  We have to work hard, giving all diligence to these things in our lives. 

Jesus compares our lives to the building of a house. As children we sing a song from Matthew 7:24-27 about the wise man that built his house on a rock to make it last and about the foolish man's house, on the sand, that fell down.  Our lives are like a building that must first have a strong foundation.  Acts 4:10-12 and Ephesians 2:19-22 tell us that Jesus is the Cornerstone of our 'house/lives' that makes us straight and right and that the Apostles and Prophets (the New & Old Testaments) help build our foundation.

So we have a solid foundation of Christ.  We are now Christians.  What do we do now?  What does our house need?  There are nine things that we are to add to our lives in order to be what God wants us to be.  These things are sometimes called Christian characteristics.  They include faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and charity.

Let's start with FAITH.  In Hebrews 11:6 we read that "...and without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him."  Verse 1 of that chapter says that faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.  Hebrews 11 is sometimes referred to as the "faith" chapter because it goes on to give us many examples of faith from the Bible.  Take the time to read and study about each of these faithful people.  We know that faith, or believing in God and believing what He says in the Bible is essential to having a "solid building".

As we continue to build we are also going to need "VIRTUE" or "GOODNESS".  What is goodness?  Well, it is being "good".   But, what does it mean to be "good" or to have "virtue"? It means that we should do what is right or fair.  So how do we know what is right or fair or good?  Let's think again about building a house.  If I want my house to be straight, I want each stone to be exactly the same height.  If one stone was 10 inches tall and the stones on the other side of the house were 12 inches tall, the whole house would be crooked, wouldn't it?  But if all the stones were 10 inches tall, then the house would sit straight, right?  Now, if I want each stone to be 10 inches tall, how do I know how tall 10 inches is?  Of course, I would use a ruler.  A ruler is a standard measure of inches.  That means it is the same for everyone, all the time.  Now, how do I "measure" goodness?  I should measure it according to a standard, that is, something that is the same for everyone, all the time.  It should be something that tells me there is a "good" thing to do and a "bad" thing to do.  What is it that tells us what is "good" and what is "bad"? Yes, it is the Bible, God's Word. So goodness is doing or being what the Bible says we should be.

Next we will need to have KNOWLEDGE.  This means knowing the Bible.  The best way to start knowing the Bible is to ask for help.  In James 1:5, it says, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him."  After we pray and ask for God's help, though, we have to let Him help us by opening our Bibles and studying.

Another building block is "TEMPERANCE".  This is another word for SELF-CONTROL.  When we are tempted to do something, it means that we see something that we really think we want to do or that looks appealing to us. It is not necessarily wrong to be tempted.  If it is almost dinner time and your mom has a plate of cookies on the table and says, "Don't eat them".  It is not wrong to want one, it is only disobeying if you eat one.  Temperance is being able to control yourself, even when you may want to do something that is wrong, but you don't do it because you know it is wrong and you are temperate or in control.  This is important because we are supposed to obey the knowledge we are learning in the Bible by using our self-control.

The next characteristic we are to have is PATIENCE. We need this because it is not going to be easy to be what God wants us to be for our whole lives.  But the Bible says that if we are faithful until death, we will receive our reward.  Our house will stand.  (You can expound on patience if you have time).

We also need to have "GODLINESS" in our houses we are building. Godliness just means being "like God" or God-like-ness.  If we are reading our Bibles and praying for God to give us wisdom, and if we are obeying what that Bible says, we will be becoming more like God.  The Bible paints us a picture of the character of God throughout the Bible and as we read and grow and obey we will add godliness.

The last two building blocks kind-of go together.  BROTHERLY KINDNESS and LOVE (CHARITY).  We will, of course, have to have love for others in order to be pleasing to God.  We read in Matthew 22:36-40 what Jesus said about the importance of love when He was asked what the greatest or most important commandment was.

 "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"   Jesus replied:

"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with

            all your mind.'  This is the first and greatest commandment.

 And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'   

All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

 If you build on the right foundation and you build your life with Christian Character, you will be able, like the Corinthian Christians, to live in the world during your life and to live with God for eternity.