Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Character

Recently I was listening to a presentation from a speaker that I had been privileged to hear earlier this year.  He spoke about what God sees that no one else sees - or what's beneath the water line of our lives.

Although we do not like exposing what is hidden in our lives, God sees all of us and know us, even the parts of our lives we try to keep hidden.

Dictionary.com provides the following:  moral or ethical quality;  qualities of honesty, courage, or the like; integrity:  It takes character to face up to a bully.  Reputation:  a stain on one's character.  Good repute.

When God spoke to Samuel about choosing a King from the sons of Jesse, he didn't look at how good looking each son was, God considered their heart and character.

"But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”  1 Samuel 16:7

What about Proverbs?   Proverbs has much to say about people - relationships, attitude and character.

If you have to choose between a good reputation and great wealth, choose a good reputation.  The rich and the poor have this in common: the Lord made them both. Sensible people will see trouble coming and avoid it, but an unthinking person will walk right into it and regret it later.  Obey the Lord, be humble, and you will get riches, honor, and a long life. If you love your life, stay away from the traps that catch the wicked along the way. Teach children how they should live, and they will remember it all their life. Poor people are slaves of the rich. Borrow money and you are the lender's slave. If you plant the seeds of injustice, disaster will spring up, and your oppression of others will end.  Be generous and share your food with the poor. You will be blessed for it.  Get rid of a conceited person, and then there will be no more arguments, quarreling, or name-calling.  If you love purity of heart and graciousness of speech, the king will be your friend.  The Lord sees to it that truth is kept safe by disproving the words of liars.  Lazy people stay at home; they say a lion might get them if they go outside.  Adultery is a trap—it catches those with whom the Lord is angry.  Children just naturally do silly, careless things, but a good spanking will teach them how to behave.  If you make gifts to rich people or oppress the poor to get rich, you will become  poor yourself.  Proverbs 22:1-6

How we act, what we say, our intentions, attitudes and core beliefs all come out and are displayed in our lives.  God calls us to be honest, reliable, generous with what we have, choose our friends carefully so we are not pulled down paths that will question our character and destroy us; we are not to behave as children who "do silly things" but to give wise and careful thought to what we do.

Paul writes to the Philippians the following, but we do well to also practice this.  

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.  Philippians 4:8-9

Daniel who was obedient, humble and honest suffered not because he tried to manipulate the king, or seek to build his own social standing within the kingdom where he served but we are told,  "Then the presidents and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him."  Daniel 6:4  They sought to complain against Daniel and could not find fault.  Daniel even went through a night in a den of lions and survived, even though he was just.

There are times when we too will go "through a den of lions".  In these times what is said about our character?  

I am learning more as I read God's word - here is a challenge:  "Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us."   Titus 2:7-8

And another challenge:  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  Matthew 5:44-45

We can choose to live and do what we feel like...and it will show up in our lives.  We can choose to please ourselves, or we can choose to practice and live out in our lives honesty, courage, kindness, faith, dignity, sound speech (not using profane words); choosing to think well of others, showing care and compassion.

It's a choice:  what does your character say about you?

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