Building Character – No short-cuts by Christopher Shennan

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And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4 and patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5 and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. (Romans 5:3-5 – AKJV)

We are living in a fantasy world if we think building something of eternal value can be achieved by cutting corners and choosing the easy path. Proven character is one of those things that cannot be built by avoiding trouble and creating ideal conditions.

The Apostle Paul gloried in – took pleasure in – troubles that came his way. A unique perspective, to be sure. It is also one that is extremely unpopular and explains why there are so few giants of Faith in the Christian church in our present world.

Perhaps I should specify, in the Western World, for there are no doubt giants of the Faith in countries where Christians are persecuted, though we seldom hear of them.

The apostle was not kidding around; he had solid reasons why he got excited when troubles came his way (When trouble comes our way we tend to turn tail and run). He got excited because he knew trouble was the only way he could develop the quality of perseverance (or patience).

I heard of a sophisticated lady, who when shaking the pastor’s at the end of the church service, asked him if he would pray for her, “I need you to pray for patience. It is the one area of my life in which I am sadly lacking.”

The pastor asked this lady if she would wait till everyone else had gone, and he would take her to the vestry and pray for her without delay.

When at last they were alone and kneeling down together, the pastor began to pray earnestly, “Dear Lord,” he prayed, “Please bring trial and trouble into Mrs. Jones’s life. Bring circumstances that test her and try her so that…”

At this point the pastor felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned to see a bewildered expression on the lady’s face, “Pastor,” she said, “I did not ask you to pray for those things. I asked to pray for patience.”

The pastor’s reply was uncompromising, “Mrs. Jones,” he said, “How do you expect to develop patience unless you are subjected to the circumstances that will require it?

When troubles come a process is set in motion: tribulation worketh patience; 4 and patience, experience; and experience, hope. If we submit to this process and don’t rebel against it, we will discover the building blocks that form character. In place of the word “experience”, the NASB renders proven character.” As we experience trouble we are given the opportunity to put our character to the test – we will learn

how to make the choice that will make us into the people God intends us to be. We will become people of character.

If we don’t take any short-cuts.

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Christopher Shennan

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