The founding fathers of this great nation placed significant importance on a Man’s character. As the centuries have gone by since our birth as a nation it seems it has become just another word in our vocabulary that has lost its real meaning and importance. We have been so negatively conditioned by the erosion of this characteristic of a man that we use the word in a carefree manner. Let me share some statistics that I think warrants God’s men reconsidering the expectations that God has for us regarding “character.” For every 10 men in the average church:
It has been said that character is who you are when nobody is looking. In today’s world we see two types of character, manufactured character and genuine character. Manufactured Character is simply putting on an “image” or looking a certain way to influence people in how they should perceive you. The key thing to remember about manufactured character is that it is an attempt to manipulate our impression of a person’s character. Proverbs 6:16-19 tells us “There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.” A man who uses the things described in this passage to try to shape our impression of their character is trying to “manufacture” a character. Simply put, manufactured character is saying one thing but doing another. All you have to do is read today’s headlines in any newspaper and you will quickly identify men from all walks of life that have manufactured a character that cannot and does hold up under scrutiny. Many have tried to divert our attention to others so their true character is undetected.
Jeremiah 9:23&24 helps clarify what I mean by “genuine character.” This what the Lord says: ‘Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the Lord.” God’s men must, on a daily basis, evaluate their character against these criteria so that we can maintain our focus on HIS definition and desires.
There is a reality we must face regarding the development of genuine character. Genuine character does not come easy or without challenges. In life, God uses many situations and opportunities to develop and strengthen our character. God will use challenges and trials as a way to “grow” our character so we can then better serve Him. Jesus tells us “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
1 Peter 4:12-16 says “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.” Just as an athlete puts himself through long and sometimes painful training to prepare for their sport, we also must go through training to develop our character. Sometimes the workout may be long and painful but just as a champion athlete can look past the workouts and focus on the desired results, we must stay focused on achieving God’s goal for our character. Romans 5:3-5 describes this training process when it says “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” As one of God’s men, I pray that you will commit to daily training and workouts to develop genuine character and I covet your prayers that I will do likewise.