On Character and Honesty
Thank you for engaging with us over the next five weeks on this quest to develop our character. Remember that God has given us everything we need to develop godly character (2 Peter 1:3). The grace of God is the active ingredient in our growth, but we still need to "make every effort."
We'll talk more about this on Sunday, but one ingredient that's required for growing our character is humility. In this case, humility is the honesty to admit (or be open to finding out) which areas our character needs some work.
If you're following along in your Focus Guide, the Soul Training Exercise on Monday (p.13) was to do an evaluation of your character. Of course, this is a good thing to do on your own, but maybe the most helpful part was to ask a friend, "What are my best character traits?" and "Which character traits need work?" I'm not sure I can state this strongly enough--this is a critical exercise, both for you and your friend for a number of reasons:
It's important for you because you can receive some encouragement from your friend. It's always good to hear someone else affirm what is good about you.
It's important for you because, even though we might not want to, we need to hear from other's perspective areas that need work. They're hard to hear, and they might sting a little when we first hear them out loud, but don't get down about it. If they're your friend, they're being honest in order to help you. Proverbs 27:6 says, "Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses." This is one of the most important (and probably neglected) benefits of authentic community--the ability to speak truthfully to one another for our benefit. So, endure the pain of finding out and ask.
It's important for you when your friend asks you for your insight. The question is, "Are you going to be truthful in your assessment?" The ability to speak the truth in love is a godly character trait and one that benefits the church. So, don't shy away. Be gentle. Choose your words carefully, but be honest in both your encouragement and your critique when your friend asks you--this part will benefit you, too.
Finally, remember that this focus season is only laying the groundwork for your growth in character. Hopefully, over the next five weeks you make some strides in the right direction, but it's a process that will take your whole life. Our hope is to provide you with the language and the tools for you to be able to cooperate with the Holy Spirit to reveal the image of God inside each of us.