Character Matters

by Annie Brown

Character Defined

Character and morality often intersect in their definitions. Even for the unbeliever, we were given a moral compass from the time of our birth. As image bearers of God, a person is able to recognize right from wrong. Though these matters have been declared more subjective over time, murder is still deemed hateful by the large majority. Stealing is considered a crime by most law-abiding citizens. There are obvious signs that either positively or negatively allude to one’s character.

Character, defined by the world, is commonly based on what is done rather than what is believed. A person is considered morally good by the things that they do for themselves or someone else. For instance, donating to multiple charities and volunteering at a homeless shelter may lead someone to believe that they are a wonderful person. Though these things are certainly beneficial, they do not, by themselves, earn God’s favor.

Biblical character is achieved through having a relationship with Christ. His law being written on our hearts is the way in which we determine that which is truly good, right, and pure. We walk in authentic morality because we walk with the Lord. Our ultimate example of moral perfection is Christ alone. Having lived blamelessly and without any sin, he is our perfect example. In our belief in Jesus, we experience true freedom and relief knowing that salvation is not works-based. Salvation is a gift. It is placed on us in the grace and forgiveness of Jesus.

Character is earned and kept through worshipful obedience. Obedience is a posture of the heart. If one’s motive does not align with the Lord’s purposes, obedience is inauthentic. A small example may be reading the Bible. If doing so is simply a checklist item among others during our morning routine, we are operating from the harmful works-based mentality that limits our view of God’s love for us. In the book Gentle and Lowly, the author states, “We sin- not just in the past but in the present, and not only by our disobedience but by our ‘of-works’ obedience. We are perversely resistant to letting Christ love us.”

I once heard someone say that they felt confident in their eternal security because of his record of attendance at church and history of financial generosity. At the time, I was not spiritually mature enough to gently redirect this harmful way of thinking. I now understand that if character is not about the heart of God himself, it is meaningless.

Character Witnessed

As previously mentioned, we beautifully witness character through the many attributes of our Lord. He is inherently everything that we are not. He is perfect in love, justice, power, sovereignty, grace, authority, forgiveness, mercy, goodness, patience, and much more. The character of God is our comfort. In our delight and embrace of who he is, our lives begin to look completely different. This is not anything we accomplish in our strength but in our submission. As we humbly submit to God, we are transformed. Nothing good inside of us can or will exist outside of the person of Christ. Though we might do apparently good things, true goodness is obtained only as the Holy Spirit works in and through us on a daily basis.

As we approach the Word of God, our intent should be to uncover more about who he is. Oftentimes, we look to Scripture for answers about our life and identity. The Bible is about who God is. Yet, in knowing him, we do begin to better understand who we are and the purpose we have been given. A.W Tozer says, “What we believe about God is the most important thing about us.”

The gospels serve as eye-witness accounts to Christ’s ministry on earth. We learn from his parables, his miracles, and ultimately, his example. I often reflect on the longest recorded message that Jesus preached, The Sermon on the Mount. Matthew chapters five, six, and seven encompass many of life’s most important matters. Though each lesson holds tremendous weight and value, the Beatitudes in chapter five speak directly to one’s character. The word “blessed” that comes before each one is the Greek word makarios which can be translated to “happy” in our English language. All throughout Scripture, it is evident that our humble obedience to the Lord precedes his faithful blessing unto us. It is the character of God that allows us to be richly blessed in our depravity before him. He supplies our needs according to the riches of glory in Christ Jesus. His blessing is his heart towards us.

Character Activated

Perhaps humility is the most important characteristic of a believer. It is from our humility that we can love, serve, submit, and honor both God and others with authenticity. Without the acknowledgement of our nothingness outside of Christ, we walk in deceptive pride that hinders our obedience. Yet, in emptying ourselves daily, we are best positioned to glorify the Lord with the help of his Holy Spirit.

Character that is marked by the fruit of the Spirit comes as we walk closely with him. Christian calling and character are mutually dependent on one another. Romans chapter twelve says that we must resist conforming to the world and be transformed by the renewal of our mind. In order to serve Jesus from a place of spiritual maturity, integrity, and authenticity we must look different from the world around us.

Secular culture says that a calling is fulfilled in the measure of wealth and knowledge. On the contrary, John chapter thirteen says that the world will know a disciple by how they love. Furthermore, 1 Corinthians chapter thirteen reminds us that we can obtain many spiritual gifts and talents, but without love, it is all worthless. It is not what we do that matters to God. It is who we are.

The mutual calling of every person on planet earth is to glorify the Lord. We exist to worship his name. Though many will not do this, it is why we are here. The specific calling on a person’s life is best revealed in seeking Jesus. Whether it be business, performance, creativity, pastoring, or parenting, our calling glorifies God as we operate in Christlike character.

When people look at your life, what do they see? Our character is positively or negatively viewed by others on a daily basis. For the Christian, a lot is at stake. If a well-known pastor preaches a remarkable sermon on generosity only to leave church and tip his waitress a few coins, there may be a character flaw. How we treat people matters. The love we operate in has every potential to point someone to Jesus. May our lives be a reflection of the only One who can save and deliver. May we never blend in but stand out. Character champions calling when Christ is at the center of all that we do.

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