February 12, 2006
There were two evil brothers. They were rich, and used their money to keep their ways from the public eye. They even attended the same church, and looked to be perfect Christians.
Then their pastor retired, and a new one was hired. Not only could he see right through the brothers' deception, but he also spoke well and true, and the church started to swell in numbers.
A fund raising campaign was started to build a new assembly. All of a sudden, one of the brothers died. The remaining brother sought out the new pastor the day before the funeral and handed him a check for the amount needed to finish paying for the new building.
"I have only one condition," he said. "At his funeral, you must say my brother was a saint."
The pastor gave his word, and deposited the check.
The next day, at the funeral, the pastor did not hold back. "He was an evil man," the pastor said. "He cheated on his wife and abused his family."
After going on in this vein for a small time, he concluded with, "But compared to his brother, he was a saint."
Character: The complex of mental and ethical traits marking and often individualizing a person, group, or nation.
ÿ Our Character reflects where our heart and priorities are.
Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven
--Daniel Taylor, "In Pursuit of Character," Christianity Today, 11 December 1995, 29.
Character is not something you have; it is something you are that inevitably shows itself in what you do. It is determined by the stories of which you are a part. As the concept of character makes a highly visible comeback in our public conversation, we must rescue it from glib politicians, do-gooders and busybody moralizers. When we worry about our character and that of our children--and we should--we ought to think of stories. We should more purposefully choose the stories in which we are characters.
ÿ In order for us to reflect Christ fully, we must continue in the process of dying to self and allowing more of Christ within.
3 For you died when Christ died,
Read 2 Peter 2:21-25
24 He personally carried away our sins in his own body on the cross so we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. You have been healed by his wounds! 25 Once you were wandering like lost sheep. But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls.
2 Peter 2:24-25
Character is what you are in the dark.
ÿ It is the fullness of Christ within us that allows the “real me” to shine through, showing Christ Like Character.
4 And when Christ, who is your real life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.
14 If we love our Christian brothers and sisters, it proves that we have passed from death to eternal life. But a person who has no love is still dead. 15 Anyone who hates another Christian is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them. 16 We know what real love is because Christ gave up his life for us. And so we also ought to give up our lives for our Christian brothers and sisters. 17 But if anyone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need and refuses to help—how can God’s love be in that person?
1 John 3:14-17
ÿ To create Christ-like Character we must remove or avoid certain things that hinder our walk with God and with others:
"Whether life grinds you or polishes you depends on the material you're made of."
o Control over my body and my mind allow Christian Character to form within me.
5 So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual sin, impurity, lust, and shameful desires.
o Removing evil desires and greed makes room for Christ to take His rightful place in my life.
Don’t be greedy for the good things of this life, for that is idolatry.
3 Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people.
Read whole story of Luke 12:13
15 Then he said, “Beware! Don’t be greedy for what you don’t have. Real life is not measured by how much we own.”
o The ways I treat others reflects the source of my character.
8 But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. 9 Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old evil nature and all its wicked deeds.
Together We Make a Difference
ÿ To create Christ-Like Character we must be willing to put on new things that will strengthen our walk with God and with others:
o As spouses we have an opportunity to reflect God’s love and care in the way we treat each other. This models to our children Christ Like love.
18 You wives must submit to your husbands, as is fitting for those who belong to the Lord. 19 And you husbands must love your wives and never treat them harshly.
o Learning to respect our parents throughout all of life reflects a humble and submissive spirit.
20 You children must always obey your parents, for this is what pleases the Lord.
o Modeling and walking alongside our children offers more opportunity for growth and respect than demanding and expecting more than we expect of ourselves.
21 Fathers, don’t aggravate your children. If you do, they will become discouraged and quit trying.
o By doing our best regardless of our circumstances we show the world for whom we truly work.
23 Work hard and cheerfully at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.