Character, The Bedrock

One of the things that I am not tired of emphasizing is character. This is a rare commodity these days. People no longer talk about it. There is less emphasis on character in families, educational institutions and churches. Those in the ministry are struggling in this area.

However, it is character that communicates eloquently. As someone said, “What you are shouts so loudly in my ears I cannot hear what you say.”

Jesus emphasized on the importance of character: “It is what comes out of a person that defiles. For it is from within, from human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within and they defile a person” Mk. 7.20-23. What you are inside is more important. Because from it flows attitudes and behavior.

1. Behavior flows from character

The way we behave is based on our inner character, the seat of values. We may try to change our behavior without changing our basic character. We may learn to speak nicely. We may learn to preach like a highly spiritual person. You may attend personality development programme to learn personality development methods and techniques to shape your behavior and attitudes. This might work for a short time. But it is not long lasting. It is like constructing a beautiful mansion without foundation. People may appreciate it for a short time. However, it does not withstand the trying situations or circumstances. It is like the house built on sand in Jesus’ teaching on two houses built on two different foundations (Mt. 7.24-27). You know what happened to the one built on sand. “The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell.” Jesus says, “Great was its fall.” If there is no fundamental character strength, life challenges will cause true motives and behavior to surface. That will be a humiliating experience. Because our true colors have been exposed to public.

2. Perceptions flow from character.

Seeing flows from being. The way we view the world, things and other people is based on what we are inside. Our worldview and value system are based on our character.

How do we treat other people? Do we value a person based on what he/she possesses or on the baggage he/she carries? The baggage may carry education, social status, economic status, family background….

Read James 2.1-9 – Favoritism. Vv. 1-5: “My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Have a seat here please,” while to the poor you say, “Stand there,” or “Sit at my feet,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him?”     

Without transformation of our heart, we do not treat other people as possessing inherent human value and worth, or being created in the image of God.

That is why Jesus emphasized on being born again or born anew. As we surrender ourselves to God, God transforms our heart, our character and our being. Our minds will be renewed. This brings a change in our actions (Rom. 12.1-2, 9-21).


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