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895. Character Development and Its Importance

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University
The Truth Network Radio
January 1, 2021 7:00 pm

895. Character Development and Its Importance

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University

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January 1, 2021 7:00 pm

BJU President Steve Pettit brings a message entitled, “Character Development and Its Importance” from II Peter 1:3-4

The post 895. Character Development and Its Importance appeared first on THE DAILY PLATFORM.

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Welcome to The Daily Platform, sponsored by Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. Today's speaker is the president of Bob Jones University, Dr. Steve Pettit.

Would you please take your Bibles this morning and turn with me to 2 Peter chapter 1, 2 Peter 1 this morning. Last Monday night when we began our opening service here at Bob Jones University, I talked about a Bob Jones education, and I talked about four things that are involved in our education. The first is a Christ-centered liberal arts education with a thoroughly integrated biblical worldview. The second thing I talked about in our education is the development of character. The third is the importance of cultural excellence, and then the fourth is critical thinking. And I've learned that out of those four elements, that there's one of them that is always a challenge to students.

Out of those four, which one do you think it is? Well, I found generally it's not a Christ-centered liberal arts education with a biblical worldview. It's what you've come to expect from Bob Jones. I don't think it's cultural excellence, though some of you may not be used to certain elements of our emphasis here at the university, because perhaps you have not developed a taste for cultural or classical music or dramatic productions or operas or recitals. It's not your thing.

You know, you grew up on ESPN or something else. So I mean, it's a little bit of an adjustment for you. And I don't think it's learning to think critically because nobody wants to be considered unintelligent or ignorant. So what is the challenge that most students face here at Bob Jones? And it's always the emphasis on character and the way that character is developed. So what I'd like to do this morning, and we're going to look at the scriptures in a moment, but what I'd like to do this morning is actually talk to you about character development and its importance. And let me start out by saying that the development of character is actually the mission of Bob Jones University. In a way, the university actually has an old school philosophy about education. It's education plus character, the development of a person's life. And that's really the reason why we exist. Our own university mission statement says that Bob Jones University exists to grow Christ-like character. And we're doing it in an environment that is scripturally disciplined, others serving, God loving, Christ proclaiming, and focused above.

Now think about it. It's the reason we exist. It's the whole reason why we are here. So obviously, character development is a really, really big deal. So, let's understand then some things about character. The first thing is this, what do we mean by character? Now, when we think of character, we don't really start with us. Who should we start with?

We should start with God. Because the nature of God in the Bible is revealed in his character. In the Bible, God reveals himself by showing us who he is and what he does. That's called his character. For example, God's character is reviewed or seen or revealed in his nature.

Think about it. How many times in the Bible do you read about God is good, or God is merciful, or God is gracious, or God is righteous, or God is just, or God is wrath, or you read all of these character qualities. God reveals himself in his character. God not only reveals himself in his nature in that way, but he also in his name. Because the names of God reveal what God does, what God is like. Jehovah, the God who is. Adonai, the Lord. God is our shepherd.

The picture itself is sufficient to describe what he does. He's our rock. He's our refuge.

He's our strong tower. So God reveals his nature, his character, in his name, and also in what he does. And then we see God in the narratives of Scripture. We read the storyline of the Bible, and what is the storyline of the Bible? It's about God, what God is like, and what God does, and how he responds, and how he acts. So the Bible is a revelation of the nature and the character of God, who God is, and what God does.

That's the first place to start. But then secondly, we have to understand that character, when we turn to man, you have to recognize that you and I were made in the image of God. We were made to be like God.

But what happened? That image was marred through the fall of Adam, but it is renewed through the grace of salvation. And when we consider the purpose of salvation, what is that purpose? Obviously, the purpose is that we go to heaven.

But that's not just it. We're not just trying to get into the pearly gates. The purpose of salvation, according to the Bible, is actually to change or to transform us into God's likeness, into his image.

Or you could say, into his character. That's why I want us to look at 2 Peter chapter 1 this morning. And I want to read verses 3 and 4. We're going to look at a few of these verses, sort of as a base for what I'm saying. But Peter is writing about the experience of salvation. And notice what he says in verse 3. According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue, whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. Now that's saying a lot, so let me simplify it.

Here's what he's saying. By God's power and by God's promises, we have been given everything we need through the new life in Christ to live a godly life. And that life is displayed in moral excellence, in moral character. Just like a rose is blooming, so we are to bloom as Christians and to become like Christ. Through grace, we are to display God's character in our lives. So when we talk about character development, we start first of all with the nature of God, what God is like, and then secondly, Christians being transformed into that likeness that comes to us through his grace in salvation.

So we go back to the mission statement of Bob Jones University. Why do we exist? It's rooted in the scriptures that we exist to grow Christ-like character. Now that leads me to the second thing this morning, and that is then how is character developed? How do you get character in your life? How many of you would like to have more character than you presently have?

Well I think we all are there. I don't think I have to convince you that you need more character. So how is it developed? Well let me first of all say that character is not something that Christians are only, just Christians are concerned about. Fact is, all people are concerned about character. One definition of character says this, it is the stable and distinctive qualities built into an individual's life which determines his or her response regardless of circumstances. It's the qualities that determine how you respond in life. Your character determines how you act and how you react. What comes up in your life and how you respond and that will determine the results of what happens in your life. So it makes sense to say that people who are successful in any endeavor, their success is determined by their character.

And the reason why the world is so interested in character is because they're interested in being successful and they know this. For example, listen to the mission statement of these three schools. The United States Military Academy's mission, that's West Point, is to educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of duty, honor, country, and prepared for a career of professional excellence and service to the nation as an officer in the United States Army.

Character and then excellence. Listen to the mission statement of Harvard University. Harvard University is devoted to excellence in teaching, learning, and research and to developing leaders in many disciplines who make a difference globally. Listen to the mission statement of the Citadel. Through teamwork, discipline, and an intellectually challenging environment, the Citadel educates and develops each of our students to be principled leaders in all walks of life. Now, the world understands that good character is the foundation for all true success. So it's not just something that Christians are interested in, it's what all people are interested in. Furthermore, people today are crying out for leaders with character.

Listen to this statement. Today, our world faces difficult and daunting problems. Escalating crime, drug and alcohol abuse, workplace violence, gang activity, vandalism, school dropouts, deteriorating work ethics, domestic violence, juvenile delinquency, racial tensions, broken families. At the root of all these issues is character, good or bad. Lasting solutions to the problems of our day have to deal with the issue of developing good character. May I say to you this morning that we would be negligent as an educational institution if we didn't emphasize character.

We would be wrong. So, how is character developed? Well, it does start the day that you're born into your family. Your family has a big emphasis in your life. How have you been raised? What is important to your family? What did your family allow you to do? What did your family restrict you from doing? How many of you felt like you grew up in a strict home? How many felt you didn't grow up in a strict home?

So, it's about 50-50. My kids told me, they said, Dad, we went off to Bible college and we discovered we grew up in the strictest home we've ever met. Now, I didn't think we were that strict. I thought our house was fun. I'm a fun guy. We just work. That's what we do.

But, it made a difference. What activities are you involved in? How do your parents discipline you? How many of you ever received a spanking when you grew up?

Okay, that's called character training, alright? What was your home life like? Did you grow up in a one-parent home, a two-parent home?

What kind of school did you attend? What were your parents' expectations? But let me also say that regardless of your family and your upbringing, in the end, you are responsible for your character. And let me say this, that if you're a Christian, we know this, that God is the greatest parent of all, and God will parent you in the realm of your character training. You are responsible for the character development in your own life and properly responding to what God is doing in your life. So, how is character developed for a believer?

I mean, think about it. You go back in the New Testament days, they didn't have Christian homes. They didn't grow up in Christian schools.

They didn't have that kind of atmosphere. And yet, character training was a part of a Christian's life. So, how do you develop character? And let's go back to 2 Peter chapter 1. We read verses 3 and 4 where he talked about the fact that God's purpose is to change us into the moral likeness and character of God.

Now look at verse 5. He said, and besides this, giving all diligence, add to your faith. How do you get character in your life? The word is, the key word is the word add. The word add means to earnestly supply or bring this into your faith. It means to provide these things. Character is built in your life through earnest, focused effort.

Peter says add. In other words, it's not just something that God does. It is what you do because in true biblical sanctification, it's not just God doing it all and you doing nothing, but it is you being involved in putting forth the effort. Earnest commitment.

Something you are responsible to bring into your life. It requires your diligent investment. And character is always built through the exertion of effort or force. But usually, that exertion of force is also against a negative force. Character is built when you push against something that's pushing you back.

For example, what is the negative force against hard work? What is it? It's your own what?

Come on, what is it? Laziness. How many of you would say, I'm definitely by nature lazy? Okay, everybody is. Okay, do you think like the rest of the world is like super excited about working hard and you just like to chill all the time?

Come on. It's not that way. We're all lazy. So you don't, lazy people don't develop character. Nobody ever succeeds in anything in life by making it easy. Character doesn't come that way. Character comes through the resistance of forces against you. And you fight against those negative forces and in so doing, you develop character. So if you come to Bob Jones University and this place is easy for you and you just slide through and there's nothing hard about it, then we have miserably failed. Because it should be challenging.

Because this is character development time. What do you want to do with your life? Do you want your life to just float down the river and everything is easy? Wake up.

Go buy an alarm clock from Walmart and wake up. It's not that way. And so maybe you've come here and this freshman year you're going, man, I like Bob Jones but it's really, really hard. Well, hello.

It's supposed to be. Because it's the development of character. And notice what Peter says Christians are to add to their faith.

He tells us what the character is. Notice he says, add to your faith virtue. What is virtue? It's moral excellence. That is evident in your life as you consistently are doing what is right. It's basically choosing the higher moral standard. We know God's character is, God is a moral being. And so we choose moral excellence. We choose it in sexual morality.

We choose it in honesty and integrity and quality of standards in my work. In other words, I'm going to do the very, very best that I can. I'm going to have virtue in my study habits. I'm not going to be lazy.

I'm going to be disciplined. I'm going to work at it in my music practice. Everybody understands that practice is the way in which you develop character in your life. But it's how you practice and how you come at it. This is what excellence is all about. Now let me ask you, is there not a negative force in our world that works against moral excellence?

I mean, let's be honest. Moral excellence is being worked against through just the things of the world as it comes into our life through technology. So you have to add those things. You have to be committed to those things.

Then notice he says, add knowledge. What does that tell me? It tells me learning is a discipline. Character is built through the discipline of study. Good grades are the fruit of good character. You know, getting into Bob Jones University is not all that hard. Staying in Bob Jones University is not always that easy. Classes are challenging.

They should be. Learning to study is not natural. Why? Because thinking is hard. It takes discipline to listen and to learn. The kind of grades you make is directly proportional to the development of your skill in listening and reading and writing. It's our responsibility to create a character-based atmosphere that is conducive for good learning environment. You know, that's actually one of the reasons why we have a dress code. Think about it.

It's about character. You have to get up and prepare for class. And in preparing, you have to prepare your mind to study. The first thing I do every single morning is I wake up, I stumble into the kitchen, and I make coffee. Because you can be saved without coffee, but you can't be spiritual without coffee. Second thing I do is while the coffee is brewing, I go take a shower.

You know why? Because I have to get my brain engaged. And then I go back, make my coffee, go take, and sit down, and I spend my first hour of my day in devotions with God. It's a habit. It's a part of discipline. You have to study, you have to show discipline, you have to show focus, you have to show attention. You can't roll out of bed, put on your pajamas, and come to class.

Could you imagine what it would be like if Bob Jones wore pajamas to class? Maybe you're saying, okay, okay, help me understand. Why do you really care? It's my life.

It doesn't really matter. Because in the end, it's what I'm going to experience. So why? You know why?

Because all leadership cares about the integrity of the people that they're leading. Because you know why? Because it's a matter of love. We actually love you, and we actually think this is the better thing for you. It's a love thing, man. It's because you really care. It's because you're old enough and you've seen enough in life to know to look back and say, look, we really care about you.

We really want you to do well. And we believe this is the better approach to it. Add to your faith these things' temperance. He says add to your faith, excuse me, knowledge. Add to your faith virtue.

And then notice number three. He said add to your faith temperance. What is temperance?

It means to reject wrong desires to do what is right. It's self-control. Learning to control, for example, your time. Well, you're being stretched on that one for sure. Learning to control your thoughts.

How do you think? How do you discipline yourself? Man, you come here and you've got a whole new realm of thoughts. Learning to control your tongue. Avoiding the foot and mouth disease by sticking your foot in your mouth. Learning to control your temper. Learning to control your finances, your treasures. Learning to control your taste buds. Temperance means to be responsible for all these areas of your life.

You're responsible for what you do and you can't blame anybody else. And then notice he says add to your temperance. He says add perseverance. What is perseverance? It's the inward strength to withstand stress and to do my best. You know what it means to persevere?

It means don't quit. Finish what you start. Stick it out. Life feels like you're climbing up a steep hill and it's really hard to get to the top. So stick it out.

Be determined. It's not going to get easier. You think life is going to get easier?

Man, if I leave Bob Jones it'll be so much easier. You're listening to the wrong voice, dude. Real life is challenging. The test of your character is what it takes to stop you.

Character means you have to be faithful. You have to stay with it. Anybody can go to college for one semester, but to do it for four years? Four years for you seems like eternity. But it's not. It's that fast.

To me, four years is like flies by. Add to your faith these things and character requires a disciplined structure with some kind of imposed form. You put yourself in the structure and you get with it and you go forward. I read recently how to successfully implement a character training program in any organization.

Listen to what it says. Number one, emphasize good character. Establish a culture that encourages everyone to develop good character. Describe and define good character. Make decisions based on good character. Train how to implement it and emphasize the importance of good character. Then number two, require good character. That is, establish a culture of good character by enforcing principle-based policies. Communicate the expectations. If correction is needed, correct the character deficiency based on the poor behavior.

I learned long ago in discipline, I don't attack you. I deal with the character. What do you need to change? Because in changing those things, it's going to change your life. And then number three, recognize good character.

Praise it. Point out the words, the actions, and the attitudes that demonstrates character qualities that are a benefit to other people. So character is developed in a structure, in an atmosphere, where you are putting forth effort.

And that leads me to the final thing, and that is this. What is the end purpose or what is the end goal of character development? Or maybe I should ask it this way, is there any difference in Christian character versus character development in the world? Because I'll tell you, you go play on a college football team, a D1 team, I guarantee you the coach emphasizes character. And if the world believes that character is necessary for success, what's the difference between the world's viewpoint of character and actually the Christian's viewpoint?

And in some ways, character development is actually very similar, but there is a difference. And let me conclude this morning by explaining it. Jonathan Edwards was perhaps the greatest theologian in American history. He was a prolific writer. They say that he spent some 15 hours a day in study, extremely disciplined. In 1722 and 1723, at the age of 19 years old, he wrote 70 resolutions that he reviewed weekly until he died at the age of 54.

Think about that. These resolutions had to do with areas of Christian living and Christian character. Now, what did Jonathan Edwards see as the basis for keeping these resolutions and developing this character?

And listen to his own words. He said, being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God's help, I do humbly entreat God by his grace to enable me to keep these resolutions so far as they are agreeable to his will for Christ's sake. Edwards went on to later write two dissertations, one entitled The Nature of True Virtue. It's talking about true character and secondly, the end for which God created the world. And he describes his views on different levels of virtue.

And he said this specifically. They're too kind. There's common morality. That's what we call common character. And secondly, true saving virtue. He wrote that God created all things for his own glory and just not for human happiness. Thus, true virtue does not arise from self-love, the desire to be successful in the world's eyes, but from a desire to see God's glory displayed above all. Love of self, love of family, love of nation is good only to the extent that it magnifies the glory of God.

What makes Christian character different from the world? It's all about the end. Who is it for? Is it for you or is it for God?

As we finish this morning, look at 2 Peter chapter 1 and notice when he comes to the conclusion at the end of adding these moral virtues and character to your life. Notice what he says in verse 7, and to godliness, brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness, charity. What is charity?

It is the mountaintop. It's the top of Mount Everest for the Christian. Because what is charity? Charity is living your life ultimately for the benefit of other people. Character for selfish ends will always be empty, but serving others is always life's greatest fulfillment. The end purpose of character is learning how to sacrificially serve other people.

And that's why Bob Jones University exists. Within the cultural and academic soil of liberal arts, higher education, Bob Jones University exists to grow Christ-like character, to serve. That is scripturally disciplined, others serving, God loving, Christ proclaiming, and focused above. That is the greatest goal of life, to become like Christ in character that I might be able to successfully serve and help other people. Father, thank you that in Christ you can change our character. Lord, help us to unselfishly embrace your purpose and plan. And help us to grow in our character that we would glorify and display your likeness to all people. In Jesus' name, amen. You've been listening to a sermon preached by Dr. Steve Pettit, president of Bob Jones University. Thanks again for listening, and join us again next week as we'll hear more chapel messages from the Bob Jones University Chapel platform.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-08 19:59:41 / 2024-01-08 20:09:54 / 10

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