Building godly character is hard work. “Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love” (2 Peter 1:5-7). Every effort is right. That’s what it takes to make these qualities a part of our lives. People don’t change easily . . . leading to modern day proverbs like “a tiger doesn’t change its stripes.” Breaking bad habits and creating new godly ones is something that requires a daily focus and fervent prayers for a long time. It probably takes the help of another Christian – and accepting that help takes a lot of humility. All that work, all that brokenness, is not something everyone is willing to go though. There are many who would much rather focus on the flaws of someone else.
There is more than one way to build up confidence in who and what you are. You can work, and grow, and daily become someone who better reflects the light of Jesus Christ. OR you can focus on the shortcomings of the people around you. “Well, I know I need to change what I choose to watch but at least I’m not like the guy who just got arrested for beating his wife. I definitely don’t do that.” “Yes, I know I don’t know my Bible well enough but at least I’m doing better than that church over there that doesn’t even know what baptism is for!” Yes, that’s certainly one way to feel better about yourself. Unfortunately, as Lonnie Jones put it: “Cutting that guy’s legs off doesn’t make me one inch taller.” Looking down on others doesn’t make you a better person. And you’re not qualified to do it. We cannot even semi-accurately judge where others are unless we have first judged ourselves: “How can you say to your brother, „Let me take the speck out of your eye,‟ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?‟” (Matthew 7:4).
I want to suggest to you that it is better to take the harder road. Take a moment today and examine your own life. What are some areas that you can improve? What in the 2 Peter 1 list do you need to add to your character? What are you currently doing that God would like you to change? Are your prayer and reading habits what they should be? Do the hard work of asking yourselves these kind of questions and seek to improve the answers. Then you can have the confidence of knowing that you are doing what you can to be the person God wants you to be. That’s a much more satisfying way of being happy about who you are.
Doug Wells, Camden Avenue church of Christ, Parkersburg, VA