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Sunday, August 5, 2018

Character



The Sage Dictionary defines character as a complex of attitudes that determine a person’s moral and ethical actions and reactions.

God is interested in our character. A person’s character is who they truly are. We can’t separate what we are from who we are. A person with good character will be ethical and moral. Our character is the sum total of these qualities demonstrated by our actions and words – the choices we make and the actions we take.  Our character reflects our heart. When our character is ethical, moral and reflects the character of God and Christ, we witness that we belong to God and will bring glory to Him. All that Christ did and said while on earth in His flesh body brought glory to God, not Himself. By His life and actions, Jesus was teaching His followers to imitate Him.
            For as long as we live, God is working to change our flawed character, so we reflect His ways and will. This, of course, is a process in willing hearts.  Jesus’ character was perfect because He had no sin in His flesh body. Though He felt all that we feel, He remained sinless. Jesus was honest, kind, loyal and honorable. All that Jesus did illustrated His perfect character. His words and actions outlined in the Word of God will also lead us to good character. If our words and actions don’t reflect the character of Jesus, our testimony will be weakened, and we profane God instead of giving Him glory. God created mankind for His glory. The original Adam and the Woman were sinless and clothed in God’s glory before sin entered. God wants to restore us to our original glory. This transformation is a work in progress in those who love and follow His Son. It will be completed on the last day when we return to the Father in glory in the spiritual, heavenly city – the New Jerusalem.

Character is a Matter of the Heart

            Character is a matter of the heart. What we hold in our hearts will be the source of our actions. Jesus said, “Listen and understand, what goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean,’ but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean……’ This offended the Pharisees when they heard it. Peter asked Jesus to explain this so Jesus said, “The things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man ‘unclean’; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him unclean.”  Matthew 15:18-20 Some Pharisees and teachers of the Law were defending the tradition of washing of hands before eating. Of course, washing hands before eating will avoid diseases, but Jesus will bring the outward inward. Jesus wasn’t about ritual. He was concerned with our hearts. Outward cleansing sanitizes the body, but it is the inner cleansing of the heart that cleanses the soul and is important to God. A cleansed heart will reflect His ways bringing blessing to us and others. Jesus wants to take us to His ethical and moral high ground. Jesus always wants to take us higher into His spiritual ways. It is the devil who wants to bring us down to the pits of the earth through our sinful, fleshly ways. Jesus lives in the highest place and wants us to come to Him in that high place. This begins while we walk the earth as His follower. He wants us to pursue His higher and nobler way. He said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” It is walking with Him according to His ways that brings us spiritually higher. “All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart. To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.”  Proverbs 21:2-3

Character in Leadership

         Jesus was the greatest leader ever to walk the earth. He is the apex of godly leadership.
           The following are leadership qualities that God seeks in a leader:
·         Good character – honorable
       Speaks the truth
        A person of integrity
·    Humility, not prideful and arrogant. “Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord. He will not go unpunished.” Prov. 16:5
·         No selfish ambition or vain conceit. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3
·         Not looking to his or her own interests but the interests of others. Phil. 2:4
·         Self-controlled. Galatians 5:23
·         Slow to anger. Proverbs 16:32
·         Gracious. Proverbs 16:24, 27 uses “gracious words” not “like a scorching fire.”
·         Is a peacemaker not an inciter. Proverbs 16:7
·         Not self-promoting. Values others and seeks their good. Philippians 2:3
·         Has a servant’s heart. Jesus was the servant of all.
·         Seeks counsel and wisdom from God and others who are honest and trustworthy. Proverbs 16:16; Proverbs 4:7; Proverbs 15:22
·         Is fair and just. Proverbs 16:8
·         Is sensible. Proverbs 16:22-23
·         Is accountable to others.
·         Prays.to the Lord
·         Is motivated and strengthened by God and His Word.
·         Sets an example. 1 Timothy 4:12
·         Empowers others. Ephesians 4:12

If a leader does not have these qualities, he is not led by God but by the devil himself and will bring cursing instead of blessing. God showed this throughout the Older Testament. Those leaders who were led by the Lord although imperfectly brought blessing. Those who didn’t brought bondage to God’s people.

             Next week, I will begin a comparison of the character of David versus Saul, Israel’s first and second king. One was God’s choice and one was the peoples’ choice. 

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