Bible study is an important part of the Christian life. It is impossible to know what God expects from a believer without spending time reading the book He gave and studying it to find out what is inside. Sometimes it is easier to learn from the Bible with a plan of action. One such method of Bible study is the character quality study.
Because one of the main focuses of the Christian is to develop Godly character, this type of study is helpful for determining what sort of changes need to be made to achieve that goal. It aids in understanding of both the right qualities and the wrong ones; that knowledge, applied, will facilitate a Christian drawing closer to the Creator.
As with any Bible study method, there are basic tools that will be necessary. These include a Bible (either a plain text Bible or a study Bible), a concordance, a Bible dictionary, and a notebook and writing implements. A dictionary of the English language and a topical Bible may also be especially helpful for the character quality study method.
This one has a few guidelines to follow that can make the application of the study more effective.
1. Choose one quality and focus on it for a while. It can take a serious effort and a bit of time to determine all the areas of life to which that quality can be applied. It is better to master one quality as much as possible than to be wishy-washy about several.
2. Do not be in a rush to get through a quality. It takes time to affect your character positively. It is wise to plan at least two weeks for each quality – more if needed. Some qualities may take years to develop fully.
3. Evaluate progress regularly and continue working on a quality until victory is achieved. Skipping around is not as effective. Diligence may be a good quality to begin with.
4. Be aware that negative qualities may be (and often are) simply a misuse of a positive quality. For example, pessimism is viewed as a negative thing, but in reality, it can be good to consider possible outcomes and plan for how to handle them. Laziness can be a serious negative, but at the same time, if channeled properly, it can lead to some incredible innovation. God can use this type of study to channel such qualities into something beneficial.
One possible format to follow when using this type of study is a ten-step.
1. Choose a quality
When choosing a quality, remember that it will be studied for some time. It is good to choose something that has been a weak area. Write it at the top of a notebook page.
2. Recognize the opposite quality
On the same page, write the opposite quality to the one chosen. For example, if the chosen quality is diligence, then the opposite is laziness, or sloth.
3. Start with a study of the word itself
Write down your understanding of the word. Look up the word in the English dictionary, and in a Bible dictionary; compare what you wrote. Consider the original language word, as well, as it may be translated differently in other passages. Strong’s concordance in Bible apps and programs usually links to all incidences of the word in the original language so it can be found regardless of how it was translated.
4. Cross reference the chosen quality
Using a concordance, look up the word and synonyms, to find where it appears in Scripture. Make a note of the verses and how they relate to the character quality. Some qualities may not appear in Scripture by the word we use, but the concept is usually there in some form.
5. Find Biblical people who are examples of this quality
Include both those who are good examples and those who are cautionary tales because of lacking the quality. Consider how the quality served these people.
6. Choose a memory verse that reinforces the quality
Find a Bible verse that defines, describes, or embodies the quality and make an effort to memorize it. This will give something to draw the quality to mind when the need arises.
7. Determine a situation where this quality will matter in your life
A situation or relationship in your life that has a need for the quality being studied will help you in applying the quality. Write down what comes to mind, for future reference. It will help in evaluating progress later.
8. Define an application
Make a goal that encourages use of the quality being studied. Be as clear and thorough as possible.
9. Illustrate the quality with a personal focus
Pay attention to how this will actually impact life and make applicable goals. Consider challenges to the application of the quality and determine how to meet those challenges and overcome them. Consider consequences of using the quality properly as well as of not using it properly.
10. Evaluate regularly
Choose one or two days a week to review and evaluate progress. Re-read notes made and seriously consider whether the quality has been more prominent in your daily life. Adjust where needed to encourage a deeper understanding and deeper internalization of the focus quality.
Even once you have completed a study on a quality, it is a good plan to go back and review and evaluate even months and years down the line. Development of good, Godly character qualities is an ongoing process, and is unlikely to ever be a completed effort that needs no further attention. If the study is very in-depth, it may fill a whole notebook; consider using a fresh notebook for each character quality to make review easier. If three-ring binders are used instead of spiral-bound notebooks, the quality or qualities inside can be labeled on the binding. There are enough character qualities to cover that this method is likely to keep Christians busy studying for a long time.