The great American evangelist Dwight L. Moody had a pithy phrase to describe character: Character is what you are in the dark.

As Christians, we all want to grow in spiritual maturity and Christlikeness. We want to become all we can be with Christ’s help, to put aside sin and who we are in our worst moments, and replace that with behavior that demonstrates the fruits of the spirit—love, kindness, gentleness, self-control, and so on. 1

Ultimately, we want to become like Jesus, to think how He thought and behave how He behaved. The Bible encourages us to aspire to follow in Christ’s footsteps: “Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.” 2  We want our character to be a testimony of God’s truth, regardless of whether anyone is watching, and even during our darkest, most trying times.

Building and developing virtuous characteristics can’t just be learned from a book or a sermon. It doesn’t come upon us in the night or sneak up during the day. It doesn’t happen automatically, accidentally, or suddenly. As Peter writes in his article on pages 4–6, “there’s some work to be done for us to grow in Christlikeness.”

The apostle Paul took it a step further when he wrote that God can even use trials to strengthen our faith. It can be comforting to bear his triumphant statement in mind when going through the fire of difficulties: “We even take pride in our problems, because we know that trouble produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” 3

This issue of Activatedexplores the topic of Christian virtues and challenges each of us to do our best every day to grow in them.

  1. See Galatians 5:22–23.
  2. 1 John 2:6 NLT. See also 1 Peter 2:21.
  3. Romans 5:3–4 CEB