“Put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:24 NIV)
Your character is essentially the sum of your habits; it is how you habitually act. The Bible says, “Put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24 NIV).
God uses his Word, people, and circumstances to mold us. All three are indispensable for character development. God’s Word provides the truth we need to grow, God’s people provide the support we need to grow, and circumstances provide the environment to practice Christ-likeness.
If you study and apply God’s Word, connect regularly with other believers, and learn to trust God in difficult circumstances, I guarantee you will become more like Jesus.
Many people assume all that is needed for spiritual growth is Bible study and prayer. But some issues in life will never be changed by Bible study or prayer alone. God uses people. He usually prefers to work through people rather than perform miracles so that we will depend on each other for fellowship. He wants us to grow together.
In many religions, the people considered to be the most spiritually mature and holy are those who isolate themselves from others in mountaintop monasteries, uninfected by contact with other people.
But this is a gross misunderstanding. Spiritual maturity is not a solitary, individual pursuit!
You cannot grow to Christ-likeness in isolation. You must be around other people and interact with them. You need to be a part of a church and community.
Why? Because true spiritual maturity is all about learning to love like Jesus, and you can’t practice being like Jesus without being in relationship with other people.
Remember, it’s all about love — loving God and loving others.
Talk About It
How is your church or small group helping you grow in spiritual maturity?
In what ways is God using difficult people or circumstances in your life to teach you Christ-like character?
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller "The Purpose Driven Life." His book, "The Purpose Driven Church," was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also the founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.
This devotional ©2012 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.