While listening to a discussion, I heard a comment made about a particular person: “He comes from a family that has never suffered from a shortage of self-esteem, and he oozes narcissism.” That comment reminded me that a trainload of healthy habits can be derailed by a single character flaw.
A good example of someone whose character was tested and remained unblemished is Daniel. In the book that bears his name, we are told that, “Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank.”
As a captive in a foreign land, Daniel found himself in a difficult position. He had to find a way to comply but not deny. How could he obey a king and stay faithful to the King of kings?
Daniel followed the edicts of King Nebuchadnezzar until it came to eating the food from the his table. Because the food had been offered to Babylonian idols and most likely violated dietary restrictions, Daniel tactfully refused to eat it.
The tension for Daniel was a decision between compromised compliance and righteous reliance. Would his character be solid or soiled?
In Psalm 105, there is a historical account of the mysterious workings of God and the way he used Joseph. It is apparent that God took the time to develop the character of Joseph:
When he summoned a famine on the land and broke all supply of bread, he had sent a man ahead of them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave. His feet were hurt with fetters; his neck was put in a collar of iron; until what he had said came to pass, the word of the LORD tested him. The king sent and released him; the ruler of the peoples set him free; he made him lord of his house and ruler of all his possessions.
Like Joseph, Paul was stalwart and steadfast in his service to God. His faith was unshakable, and his character was resolute. These qualities give credence to his words in Romans 5:
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Take a few moments to think about the role of faith, hope, and endurance and the manner in which they influence your character.