The sum total of your moral qualities, ethical standards and principles wind up into this one word, character. Its a word thats given to define us as to whether we are people who value virtue, honor, and courage or people who sell themselves short to get by in life. Today, we will not discuss the theology of what character is, rather why we should value it. However, this concept is nothing new. The Apostle Paul talks about character in Titus concerning the eligibility of being an elder in the church. The qualities listed are vital to the advancement of Gods kingdom. Character means a lot to God and its not something we can do without if we intend to serve Him. Its no secret that Satan stops short of nothing to get mankind to sink to his standards. As well as having a broken nature we already have our work cut out for us. My attempt tonight is to leave us thinking about why we should value character and what our culture values. We are forced daily to either pick up our cross and be more like Jesus or choose to live for ourselves. This test we endure every day makes us or breaks us. Something as precious and valuable as our character is being thrown out of America and treated like it were garbage. In the face of this we are the ones who must stand up and reclaim it.
1) Lets ask the why
Why do we even discuss the why as to our need of character? If we do not understand the why as to seeking a life of godly character then we easily fall into the trap of living for tradition, religion and self-righteousness. Character is something we desire not for our own glory but to fulfill Gods plan for His glory.
We must strive for a life of character because we cannot be useful to God without it!
2) How is character developed in our own lives? Well times arent so different from 2,000 years ago. Jews that became Christians suffered intensely under Nero and were tempted to discard their character and loyalty to Christ. Lets see what James had to say about this.
Humans have always struggled to maintain a high level of ethical standards. Our dilemma if you will, in the American culture is that we are bombarded with unethical situations every day. Well whoop-dee-doo. So were the Jews who became Christians after Jesus left earth. The question is what are we willing to do to maintain a high level of character despite the opposition?
3) What are we going to do? The decent of character has grown over the years because of an increasing attempt to replace God with money, possessions, popularity self-interests and addictions.
Jesus had some thought about how high we should value our purity and integrity. When Jesus speaks, we should listen intently.
As we use exaggerations in order to explain something in our modern culture, Jesus was using this as an exaggeration of the value we should place on character and the extreme means of maintaining that (not actually cutting the eyes out though).
1) Seek a life of character. It isnt easy but neither is anything else worth doing. You need to be proactive in this life pursuit.
2) Meditate, pray, read the Scriptures, get your priorities in line and learn to understand Gods purposes for your personal growth.
3) Set your mind on what is eternal not the temporary. Character comes with time, be patient.
4) Keep coming back to the cross of Christ! Dont quit when youre put to the test. When you fail keep coming back to Jesus.
Where are we going as a church, as a family, as individuals? Are we heading towards a direction of valuing our character more than anything this world has to offer? Character makes up the fibers in our beings, it makes us who we are and what we will become. If character is not a core aspiration of our lives then we will fall into the cracks that the enemy has set for us. Those cracks are what keep us from being effective Christians. Instead, lets get focused and find the strength of God to live virtuous and honorable lives.
Let us remember that this life, it is all about the eternal choices we make.
1 Corinthians 3:10-15 Will we have gold, silver and precious stones to be tested by fire? Or will we have wood, hay and straw which will burn away and leave us with nothing to present ourselves with to the Father.