The Character of Christ

“22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” –Galatians 5:22-25

This past weekend at church, we talked about the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives to make us holy and how the Holy Spirit manifests His fruit in each of our lives as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:21-22). This got me thinking about what God’s goal is for our lives as believers. Obviously, the first is that we would be saved through faith in Christ, but what about after that?

Often I find that most of our lives are caught up in our careers and the things that we do. When we meet someone for the first time we often ask them what they do or when we see our spouse or children at dinner we ask them what they did during the day. Yet, in Galatians we find God more concerned with who we are as Christians. In fact, the fruit of the Spirit focuses on the character of an individual, for Christ has already done everything. One can assume that the right actions will flow from the right character. Therefore, it is safe to say that another goal of God is to transform our character to conform it to that of His Son’s.

How does this happen? Well, very slowly! The work of the Holy Spirit in our lives is a slow transformation process. It doesn’t just happen all at once overnight and it will never be completed until God calls us home to heaven. This process beings in the church as the Holy Spirit is present working in the lives of the faithful through the Word and Sacraments. Each week we are filled with the Holy Spirit in worship and empowered to live as God’s people. God continues to build our Christ-like character as we meet situations, circumstances, and challenges in our lives outside of church, in which we need to make godly decisions. It is in these moments that we are left with choices. God wants us to make godly decisions and He has even empowered us with the Holy Spirit to know what is right and wrong. Yet, He has given us freedom to choose. When we follow His Spirit and make right choices, godly character increases. If we continue to make ungodly decisions, we will never grow our Christ-like character and we are in danger of even extinguishing the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

We should all pray the prayer that John the Baptist prayed, “He (Jesus) must become greater, I must become less (John 3:30).” Jesus exuded the fullness of the character of the Holy Spirit perfectly in His life. To grow and mature as a Christian in character means that Jesus must increase in us and that we must decrease.

God bless,

Pastor Joel