Building Character

“Because I gave him my word” was the answer to the question I had just asked.  The question was, “How does he know you will pay him?” It was an interesting conversation, and one that I’ve remembered for almost 50 years.

Even though the word “reputation”was not used, it was the subject of the discussion.  Pop finished the conversation with this statement:  “A man is only as good as his word.”

I posted a comment about reputation to my Facebook page yesterday:  People wouldn’t have to spend so many minutes protecting their reputation, if they would pause for 60 seconds to guard their character.

You can read the character-focused Scripture I’ve provided below in less than 60 seconds:

  • Proverbs 22:1:  “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.”
  • Ecclesiastes 7:1:  “A good reputation is more valuable than costly perfume.”
  • Hebrews 11:1-2:  “Now faith means putting our full confidence in the things we hope for, it means being certain of things we cannot see. It was this kind of faith that won their reputation for the saints of old.”

It was Helen Keller who said:  “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”

The quote above reminds me of Romans 5:1-5:

Since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  through whom we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of God’s glory.  Not only this, but we also rejoice in sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,  and endurance, character, and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Do you see the cause and effect links in the verses above?  “Suffering produces endurance,  and endurance, character, and character, hope.”  

 

 


Character_Building (1)
I’m not sure that Paul would agree with Calvin’s dad, but you may have the opportunity to build some character with snow in the forecast for this weekend.

Like A Satin White Snowflake

sad-snowmanWhen I walk down the street or press my way through a busy mall, it seems people are as adrift as a satin white snowflake that’s blown by a fierce wind.  They participate in a vigorous celebration of an annual winter holiday that is a time of jubilation, but they have never experienced that infusion of joy that Peter described as being “unspeakable and full of glory (I Peter 1:8).”

Paul wanted the saints at Ephesus to embrace a joy-filled relationship with Christ, so he prayed for them to “have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:18-19).

The joy and fullness of Christ is the essence of the incarnation, and as John said:  “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth . . . and of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace (John 1:14, 16).

When I observe people today, I wonder if their holiday happenings are a celebration of this grace and truth or an aberration of its substance.

When you look at the faces and into the eyes of the people you meet on the street:  What do you see?  Is it a lighthearted twinkle or a heavyhearted wrinkle?   Is it the glad refrain of the fullness of Christ or is it the sad disdain of the world’s dullness?

What’s the difference between the two?  Isn’t the incarnation the demarcation of wholeness and hole-ness?  Christmas is a contrast between the love of God and the lack of the world. Paul captured this in his letter to the Colossians:

  • In him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily (Colossians 2:9).
  • In him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell (Colossians 1:19).
  • In him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3).

The joy, peace, and fullness that you hunger for will never be found in a neatly wrapped package beneath a tree:  It is only found in the baby who was born on Christmas day.