Character: Moral force; integrity. A good reputation. The combination of qualities or traits that distinguishes an individual or group.
Devotion for Character
Living in the world these days, is a true test of character and moral fortitude! So many different things and circumstances test our character, even those of an honorable person. We the people and the government are always at odds . . . is it really a woman’s choice; why do minorities seem to always get the short end of the stick; what is the proper word to use when talking about a specific race; is it art or pornography? We are living in a world that wants to dictate our every word and action; this is now known as “Political Correctness”.
Aristotle, who was born in 384 BC, defined character as; “The decision a person makes when the choice is not obvious.” Without the proper guidance, how is a person supposed to make the right choice, especially if it isn’t obvious? Even as far back as 384 BC, it seems that men an women struggled with the same moral dilemmas.
Some things are quite obvious worldwide and are considered to be wrong: stealing, murder, adultery and lying. They carry punishments that the average person wants to avoid. However, what do we do with the more subtle choices we have to make? We carefully watch the cashier while she rings up our items and we count with her as she places our change in the palm of our hand. But, what do we do if she gave us too much change?
Now, suppose you are standing inside a store watching the pouring rain, just waiting for it to ease up, so you can make it to your car without getting soaked. There is a woman standing beside you, who starts to complain about the rain and how far she has to walk, but she becomes so obnoxious, that you start to tune her out. Once, the rain eases up a little, you make a dash for the car. But what about the woman who has to walk home? Is she really your problem? This actually happened to me. It wasn’t until I had backed out of my parking space and put the car in drive, that God said to me, “How would you like to be walking and have no car?” Of course, my answer was immediate. I pulled the car back into a parking space, got out of the car and told the lady “Come on, I’m taking you home.”. She said, “You don’t even know where I live!”. I told her I didn’t care, I just knew I needed to get her home. Now, maybe my heart wasn’t exactly as warm and kind as it should have been, but I knew I needed to do the right thing, even though it wasn’t convenient.
We all know men and women of great strength and character. And who wouldn’t want to model their lives after them? I think Aristotle was right; some choices we have to make are not so obvious. I believe that God’s precious Holy Spirit helps us to make the right choices, when we are faced with decisions that fit into that grey area. Let’s face it; the world would be a much better place to live in, if we all followed the Golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Has my heart become more tender towards others since the above incident? Absolutely! Do I always make the right choice? Not always! Does God still love me? Of course! Most of the people who walk this earth know what is right and what is wrong. But, for the hard choices, we need to seek God and his word. They will both guide us and lead us to make better choices and develop the character to make them without giving it a second thought. If you spend enough time with God, you will begin to take on his characteristics, which should be our final goal.
Micah 6:8 He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Psalms 1: 1-3 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
Isaiah 32:8 But the noble man makes noble plans, and by noble deeds he stands.
Proverbs 11:3 The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.
Jeremiah 6:16 This is what the Lord says; “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Psalms 25:21 May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you.
Psalms 15 Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman, who despises a vile man, but honors those who fear the Lord, who keeps his oath even when it hurts, who lends his money without usury and does not accept a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken.
Matthew 7:12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
I Peter 2:11-12 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, thought they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
As a final challenge, read and try to memorize the Ten Commandments, which can be found in Exodus 20: 1-17. They will be instrumental in living a life that shows strong Character!