“O to be like Thee! O to be like Thee!
Blessed Redeemer, pure as thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp thine own image deep on my heart”
The goal and longing of our heart is to be more like Jesus. To have His righteousness, His purity, His faithfulness etched into our own character. Sometimes it’s because we don’t want to deal with our own imperfections, to experience His forgiveness when we fail, or the mercy of others when we hurt them.
In our journey toward Christlikeness we may identify areas in our lives that need to be renewed by the Word of God, and develop habits toward greater growth. There may be positive qualities that we want to mature in, or negative traits that we want to improve on.
In this season, it could be many things. What qualities stand out to you lately? I think of positive traits like generosity, perseverance, and contentment, and negative qualities like selfishness, worry and pride. If I were to make a list for myself, of things I need to work on, well it would be quite a list.
There’s always things we struggle with. The idea is to prayerfully consider where the Lord is leading you in your life, and discern, sometimes with the help of trusted friends, an area of growth.
So here's an outline of how to study a character quality in the Bible, once again referenced from "Bible Study Methods" by Rick Warren.
Once you’ve chosen a quality you want to study, look it up the dictionary and write down the definition, include words that are similar to help expand your understanding of the word.
Then, identify the opposite quality of what you are studying; this is the antonym. You can find this using a dictionary or thesaurus.
A Simple Word Study
Here’s where the technical stuff starts. At this point, you want to discover what the Bible has to say about this word, how often it is used and which passages use it. This is where you can use a Bible dictionary, encyclopedia or a word study book. Now, you may not have this on your shelf, BUT you can find a few of these resources at blueletterbible.org (BLB), which is all free to use! There are also more advanced options, like Logos software, but since BLB is easily accessible, I will refer there.
So, type your word into the search bar, for your list of results. For the word study, click the green tab called 'Lexiconic' to find out how what original words were used. My example in the photo is on pride.
To explore the definition of the word click on the Strongs Number in the left column.
Which will show you this page. Find the 'Outline of Biblical Usage' which will add to your definition of the word. Then, right underneath is the Strong's Definition (it's right at the bottom of the photo, so you'll have to scroll down).
These two areas will give you a brief overview of how this word is used in the original Hebrew and Greek!
Are you having fun yet? :)
Now that we understand the meaning of the word better, we begin to look where Scripture uses this word. If you can go back to your original search page, you'll see the 'Primary' tab, which is blue. It would have shown up first.
You'll find that the word pride occurs in 46 verses, and this is the list. (Note that you can change the bible translation on the top. I usually use ESV). Read through these verses and record the insights you gain as you read; try not to rush through them.
Ask some questions as you study.
What are the benefits of this trait? What about the consequences?
Is there a promise of God related to this quality?
A warning, judgement or command from God about it?
What produces this trait in us?
Does Jesus say anything about this?
Which book of the Bible teaches the most about this trait?
Are there any symbols in Scripture that represent this quality?
Quick Biographical Study
Find someone in the Bible who demonstrated this trait in their life, and write down which passages refer to it. Then look for how this was seen in their life, how it affected them, whether it helped or hindered them and what results did it produce in their life.
For example, if I am studying pride, I might go to the book of Daniel and learn more about Nebuchadnezzar.
Throughout your study, you may have found a particular verse convicting or relevant to your life right now. Keep that verse handy, write it down and memorize it. As you keep it at the forefront of your mind, it will begin to produce the fruit in your life by changing your habits, or developing new ones.
In your study of this word, what have you learned about God? Does He demonstrate this trait? How does He show it? Then, in light of who He is, how do you want to respond?
There may be a relationship that is struggling, or a practical habit you want to start. Prayerfully consider how the Spirit is showing you where to bring this character quality deeper into your life.
Bring in a friend, tell them what you are learning and how you want to begin applying this. Ask for accountability. Yes, someone specifically to ask you how your application is going. It's never to beat yourself up for failing, because Lord knows we try and we fail. It's that we receive His grace in increasing measure and trust in His sufficiency.
You made it!
This study is a little more technical, but I pray that it will be a tool you can use to abide deeper in the Vine. Feel free to connect with me in the comments, or a message if you have questions, want accountability or just to share what you are learning. God's Word is living and active, and it's wonderful to be a part of!
Which character trait are you going to study?
*I've created this pdf download for you! It's free! Just head over to the Member Area above, to access it!
Happy getting in the Word!