71. Why is it important to develop godly character?

Jesus Christ did not die on the cross to enable us to become Christians for one week or one month or one year. He died that we may live with Him for eternity. We were born again into the Kingdom of God for a lifetime of effective service as a disciple of Christ. To last the distance of a lifetime we need to have a good foundation. The Apostles, Paul, Peter and John taught that leaders in the Church should be leaders because of their godly character. Paul taught us in 1 Tim 3 v 1- 16 that deacons, elders, pastors and bishops should all be persons selected because of their godly character. The list of character attributes is contained in this passage of scripture and it is synonymous with the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians Chapter 5 verses 22. In contrast Paul reminds us what the lusts or works of the flesh are in Galatians 5 verses 15 – 21, and he concludes that people who live this way ‘shall not inherit the kingdom of God.’ Paul warns Timothy about how difficult it will be to live as a Christian in the last days. Read 2 Timothy chapter 3 verses 1 – 17. Cooperating with the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives will produce the fruit of the Spirit and that will develop godly character in us. We need the pure and unconditional love of Christ as the motive for our ministry for Christ, to His Body, and to the world. The Spirit produces this fruit in us. Jesus taught us in John 15 that He is the Vine and we are the branches. The Father is the Gardener. He inspects the branches for fruit and cuts off the unfruitful branches. Verses 4 -5 state: ‘Remain in me, and I will remain in you, for a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.’

In hadith 144 it states: ‘Righteousness is good character, and sin is that which revolves in your heart and which you do not want people to know’ (Muslim). In hadith 343 it states: ‘The prophet used to say: ‘The best of you are those who have the best morals.’ And in hadith 345: ‘The messenger of Allâh said: ‘The most perfect of the believers in faith is the best of them in moral excellence, and the best of you are the kindest to their wives.’(Tirmidhi).