Adventures In Spiritual Living

Living Life as an Adventure of
Spiritual Exploration and Discovery

Character Development
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Importance of Character Development

William Cooper

What is Character?

It is the values you choose to believe are important and the way you live and act upon your values. Your values include your sincere interest in other people, your sensitivity to the feelings of others, your emotional self-control, your sympathy for others’ suffering, your understanding and wanting to help others, your attentive presence when with others, involved listening, and your kindness in all your thoughts, statements, and actions.  Are you loyal to your values?  Are you sincere in attempting to think and behave according to your concepts of goodness (Godlikeness)?  Are you courageous enough to stand for truth, beauty, and goodness when this is unpopular and even dangerous to your physical, professional or emotional welfare? All these contribute to defining your character.

Why is character important?

We have all had someone try to teach us that character is important. My impression while growing up was that character was important because people appreciated strong character and because it is a big plus in God’s eventual judgment of us. Well, both of those are true to a degree but not in the way I thought when I was learning about character. The real importance of strong and virtuous character is its consequence to your eternal self.

Character is what gets copied into your soul. What is copied constitutes the person that survives. By building a strong character that is loyal to divine values you are co-creating your spiritual self.  The weaker the character, the less there is to build the soul.  Developing a noble character like that of our spiritual Father is the goal of this life and the entire afterlife.  We can put this off in our mortal existence, but not in our afterlife. However, putting off developing noble character now simply assures that you arrive in the afterlife as an underdeveloped soul with extra handicaps to overcome and delays to endure while remedies are implemented.

How do you get character?

Character isn’t determined by genetics nor by culture or human experience. 

You develop your own character by making decisions regarding right and wrong and by identifying and adoring what you believe God is like. You examine your experiences to determine what does good and what does harm. You think deeply and admiringly and often about truth, beauty, and goodness. You amend your thoughts and behaviors to achieve a more loving and serving standard. You free yourself and your Spirit within to express the noble character of God through your thoughts and actions. You resist the fear of ridicule and disapproval of others related to your efforts to lead life with character. Fruits of the spirit (love and gentleness) are the outward consequences and the only proof of having followed the teaching of the Spirit within and they are divine character expressions.

We are supposed to develop nobility of character to express our unique personality. Personality is Spiritual. It works within your mind, and it determines the way you relate to everything. It is what makes you unique and makes you capable of making decisions regarding right and wrong. It is a gift from God of uniqueness and of potential for godlikeness. We mortals use the word personality to denote congeniality, but its meaning as used here is far more extensive. Here it is more like the eternal pattern for the way you will accept and interpret the manifold truths and falsehoods with which you make contact. You might consider your personality as the unique and perfect pattern that defines you as a unique person. It does not control you. It provides potentials which you discover and control by your decisions. While your personality does not change, its expression in your character certainly can and will change as you adopt and incorporate higher values to guide your life. 

We can achieve in this life a unification and coordination of our talents of body, mind, and spirit to recognize, value and act upon spiritual goals above all other goals. We can identify what is important through experience up stepped by insight (celestial revelation) and use our physical, mental, and spiritual talents aggressively and positively to pursue what is important.  What is important is living our life acting on love, mercy, and service—deity character qualities.  Appropriating deity character qualities and making them our character qualities is why we are given the gifts of time and experience and personality.

Is there a reliable model to follow?

Jesus has been made such a central figure of Christianity that he seems unapproachable unless you convert to Christianity. Consequently, it is understandable that non-Christian religionists might choose to avoid him. That is tragic. His life was lived for everyone and his message of love and service for humanity and loyalty to God’s inner leading was meant for everyone. Jesus’ life was a demonstration of how God wants all of us to live for the benefit of all others, not self, and how God will reliably lead us to achieve what he has in mind for us —his will for us.

We are each a mixture of strong and not-so-strong character qualities based on qualities we have chosen to live by. Some values are partly achieved and some are barely in our awareness. That is normal. That incompleteness is a very important part of the experience of being human.  If you believe you are a child of God because the Spirit within teaches and leads you; and if you believe you have all the time sincere effort requires, then you can also believe that you can eventually achieve a noble and loyal character like Jesus and our Paradise Parents.

The character of Jesus revealed the character of God. When you love Jesus, you are loving God’s qualities. When you set out to become like Jesus, you are undertaking to become like God and that is a good thing. That is God’s plan for all of us.

Jesus is a proper human hero of righteousness. It will benefit all people to sincerely seek to understand and simulate his way of living.  His life shows the way. Follow it.  Puzzle over it.  Sincerely seek to achieve his balance of restraining selfish desires and being useful to others and loyal to God’s desires. A lot is possible. 

A great quantity of information about Jesus’ life is presented in Part IV of The Urantia Book.  

Claiming your noble spiritual character may feel beyond your reach at first, but it is not.  Spirit is a separate reality and has its own rules of practicality. You can still trust Jesus to give you practical spiritual urges. So, keep trying to implement them in your character. You will be successful.

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