I suppose I have spoken often, both in classes and in sermon messages, about matters relating to the importance of character. I have taught at various times series on "The Ten Commandments" and the "Sermon on the Mount." Certainly when preaching or teaching from the prophets, I have talked a lot about character and ethics.
As important as that is, one often learns much about character not standing before hundreds of people speaking but in the quiet moments of life when one is faced with difficult, challenging, and tempting choices.
How do I behave when a driver cuts me off on the Interstate? Does my behavior reflect that of a person in whom Christ is being formed?
How do I behave when I must choose between two very good options? The only complication is that my wife prefers one and I prefer the other. Does she see me as someone who usually figures out how to have his way?
How do I speak about others when they are not around? Would they find pleasure in what I have said? Or, would they be stunned by what I said? Would they perhaps be stunned because I have never talked with them personally about these concerns?
How do I handle the financial commitments that I have made? Many years ago, my mother worked for a Christian bookstore. In those days, individuals could have their own personal charge accounts with that bookstore. The bookstore would then send a bill to them at the end of the month. I recall my mother expressing her disappointment that several ministers had past due bills, apparently ignoring them.
How do I behave around people of the opposite sex? Would my wife be surprised or even hurt by my words or behavior? What might my children think?
Do I speak the truth? Do I tell others what I really think? Or, do I say one thing in front of one group and something else in front of another group? Am I more concerned with being liked or with being faithful?
A number of years ago, our church was looking for a youth minister. Various people were sending in resumes. One resume in particular caught my attention. It was well written. This prospective youth minister had on his resume a number of things about his past, including a record of various ministry experiences. As I read through this resume, it occurred to me that it was "puffed." That is, these experiences were not actually what he purported them to be. There were a number of these that were expressed in such a way as to create a heightened sense of importance and significance. As I read through this resume, the distance seemed to increase between reality and what he was attempting to project.
Character is not about perfection but intention. No one is flawless. We all blunder. All of us need grace. Yet, the issue of character is not one of perfect performance but of integrity.
Who in your life has best modeled character?