To show the importance of Character, Jesus began the Sermon on the Mount with the beatitudes, which are simply the blessings accruing to people with Character.
In this article, we shall take a brief look at what character is and in the coming days delve into the nitty-gritties of same.
Definition of Character
According to the Oxford Dictionary of English, Character is the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines it as a combination of qualities or features that distinguishes one person, group or thing from another. It also means moral or ethical strength. In computer science, a character is a symbol representing a letter or number. For example, A is always A and B is always B at any time of the day and in any condition or geographical location. Numbers remain the same under any condition, that’s why it’s said that mathematics isn’t an opinion – 1 is always 1 and not 2. A question mark (?) isn’t a semicolon (;).
Description of Character
Let us analyse character a bit:
Characters are like principles and so always remain the same.
The principles (laws) of thermodynamics and gravity are still valid today. Whether you’re ignorant of the law of gravity or refuse to acknowledge its existence, if you jump up you must come down. Except God decides to perform a miracle, no matter how many years you fast and pray, if you attempt to through yourself off a cliff, you’ll certainly crash-land.
God is a God of principles and so doesn’t live on what is trending or popular; you have His Word that encloses His Character. Same is a perfect Christian – he doesn’t pursue popularity/trends, because the moment you begin to follow after what is trending/trendy, you slowly dilute your principles to fit in and trend like others.
One of the reasons you can’t trust politicians is because they’re always in search of popularity. They’re full of empty promises that they know will never see the light of the day. And it’s unfortunate that some Christians, including preachers, have become politicians in their pursuits. Instead of pursuing the souls of men for God’s kingdom, they’ve begun to chase after watered-down cheap popularity.
So, a Christian should have an unchanging character (Psalms 15:4), be consistent, predictable (because his yardstick of judgment, righteousness, love doesn’t change with the season nor with how close or far the person(s) concerned is (are) from him.
Character is your set of values.
By ‘value’ I mean the things you place value on (your valuables); the things that are of utmost importance to you because it’s natural for men to be protective of, careful with and to keep guard of their precious items.
When God said that where your treasures are, there your heart will be, it’s because He knows what it means to give up all just to save one. Yes, God loved (and still loves) man so much that He was willing to become flesh, go through humiliation until death in order to recover the man.
The salvation plan took hundreds of years to be hatched and God was decided on accomplishing it at the expense of His Son Jesus. So, He knows that men would do anything to protect that that is of value to them.
If you value yourself, there are certain things you won’t do. When you value your marriage you won’t commit adultery, so, when you commit adultery it simply shows that you don’t value your marriage. If you value the gift of salvation, you protect it from thieves. When you value your calling, you’re willing to spend time studying, praying with fasting, evangelising, listening to God etc. in order to fulfil your calling.
Character is a dedication to some standards.
The Christian striving for perfection understands that Christ is the gold standard against which our conversation(lifestyle) is measured. He is also aware that since men see him as Christ (remember why we are called Christians), he should live a model life that is unblameable.
He conducts himself with such honour among the unbelievers that, though they slander him, they may see his good deeds and glorify God. (1 Peter 2:12).
So, perfection in character entails being a standard in truthfulness, honesty, humility, gentleness, love, peace, forgiveness, dedication to God, purity, action/reaction, giving etc.
A self-imposed discipline because of moral convictions.
That means that a Christian of perfect character doesn’t need a police officer because he polices himself. A man of character stands on his moral convictions even when the world is drifting towards the other direction. He is not afraid to stand alone.
There is no FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) in his dictionary. That doesn’t mean he’s insensitive to his surroundings. He’s neither responsive nor yielding to every pull of the flesh. In short, he has mortified the flesh and is simply alive to the Spirit’s desires (Colossians 3:5). In 1 Corinthians 2 verse 15, we learn that a spiritual man judges all things but is judged of no man.
You see, talents/gifts, personality etc can lead you to a certain height in life but what will keep you there and drive you even further is character. We have many people with charisma today, but with little or no character.
Furthermore, a Christian who strives for perfection endeavours to integrate his words, deeds and actions as one. A person without character is like one with a Dissociative Identity Disorder or what was previously known as a Multiple Personality Disorder because there’s always a disconnection between what he thinks, says and does. Simply put, he is a HYPOCRITE.
Character is simply integrity.
The word ‘integrity’ in the Italian language is ‘integrità’, which comes from the root word ‘integro’. Now, ‘integro’ in the English language means whole or one. As a side note: Besides the Dutch/German origins, the English origin of the word ‘holy’ is ‘whole’.
So, when we say that God is Holy, we’re also saying that God is One (that is, what God says is what He means and what He does). So, there is coherence between what a person of character thinks, says and does.
Some people cannot be trusted because they lack integrity, they’re not one person – what they think isn’t what they say, what they say isn’t what they mean and of course what they do isn’t what they said – and so you don’t know who you are talking with because you’re sure to meet a different person the next minute.
A perfect Christian’s words should be ‘bankable’. He should be a man of his words. If your private life is different from your public/church life, then, your character is not credible. If what you teach isn’t your life, then I should have no business listening to you. Never buy a Samsung phone from a man who makes use of an iPhone and has never used an android device all his life.
Character is also a sacrifice for principles.
That is, you are willing to sacrifice friendship, job, promotion, gifts, money, business opportunities and connections to protect your principles.
I remember a story my Pastor shared of a business opportunity he had that could have earned him millions (maybe billions in our day) but he declined because that could have compromised his principle on right living. Several people mocked him, and one cunning person advised him to still go into the business and later give God a tithe of 500,000 naira.
You see, a gullible could have done that and found scripture to justify his actions. Our character is tested when we are offered what we need or want at the price of our principles, values, standards, and integrity. And many have lost their integrity on the bed of their needs/wants. It’s better to have a good name before God and man than temporal riches (Proverbs 22:1. Ecclesiastes 7:1)
So, God is Holy; He is principled; He is Character and He never changes. In fact, He boasts about it – ‘‘For I am the Lord, I change not’’. Malachi 3:6. And in Hebrews 13:8, it reads ‘‘Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.
If you want to begin a perfect walk with God today, simply say these words from your heart:
Lord Jesus, I understand that you came to die on the cross for me. You loved me so much that You shed your blood for my sins. I’m so sorry for the hurt I caused you and I repent today. Please forgive my sins and cleanse me from every one of them.
From today, I’ll love you as my Lord, Saviour and friend. Please take me as your friend and never leave me again. I forgive every one that hurt me too. Thank you for coming into my heart. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.
Special thanks to God, Pastor Anthony Okeke, late Dr Myles Munroe for the inspiration to write this article. I’m still far from being perfect but writing this has certainly taken me further in my journey towards perfection. God willing, I’ll see you in my next article.
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