Friday, May 6, 2011

What a Character!

This is a phrase that we often use to describe someone, it’s not usaully meant as a compliment. I would like to be so bold ask to ask, ‘What kind of character are you?’ Or could I put it a different way, ‘What kind of character do you have?’ If some one was to describe your character what would they say? What kind of character should a Christian have?

In Presidents George W. Bush’s first address to the nation he mentioned the thought of character and the lack of good values. When we look at our society today we realize that there is a lack of character and values. For instance, think of what causes all the violence in the schools? One of the reasons is the lack of character building. There are very few good, positive role models for the young people today. We are raising a generation that are being taught that there are no absolutes, no God, and that traditional values are out of date. The results of this is alarming!

In a book called, “The Day America Told the Truth,” by James Patterson and Peter Kim, the serious character crisis facing us today is revealed. Listen to some of their findings: Only thirteen percent of those asked see that the Ten Commandments has any affect on us today. Ninety One percent admitted to lying regularly at work and at home. When asked, “to whom did you lie?” Eighty-six perecnt said to parents and seventyfive percent said to friends. Most of the workers poled admitted to goofing off about seven hours a week, almost a whole day and half admitted to calling in sick when they were not. When asked, What would you do for $10 million?” Twenty-five percent said that they would abandon their families. Twenty-three percent said they would become a prositute for a week. Seven perecent said they would comitt murder. That means that in a gathering of 100 people, there are seven who would consider ending your life if the price was right.
These are very disturbing stastics, but they demostrate the need of character and values in our world today. We can not legislate or dictate moral values on people, but as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ we can have an influence on those the Lord puts in our path, our spouse, our children, co- workers and many others.

But it all begins with me. I have to know what God expects my Christian character to be and then I have to live it out constantly and consistantly.

The Right Motive

This sound simple and I’m sure we all agree, but let’s just look at it for a minute. If we are honest many times our motives are self centered instead of Christ-Centered. Often, we want to maintain our reputation or we do things because that’s what we’ve been taught, but the motivation isn’t really related to pleasing God.

Think of when Joseph was enticed by Potiphar’s wife, what motivated him from giving in to her? It wasn’t, “If I do this my master will have my head.” His motivation was His love and devotion to God. Listen to what he said to her in Gen. 39:8-9. “Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand. There is no on greater in his house than I, nor has he kept anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” His motivation was Godward, not selfward.

God tested Abraham’s motivation in Genesis 22. Abraham in obedience was about to offer his beloved son Isaac as a sacrifice to God when he heard, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld yopur son, your only son, from me.” The Lord saw His Godward motivation and accepted it.
In the N.T. this is seen in Mtt. 22:37-40. The Lord wasn’t just teaching that these two commandments of love sum up all the others, but He was always teaching that all the other commandments depend on the motivation of love for their fulfillment. Notice how this thought of Godward motivation is peppered throughout the N.T.

* 1 Cor. 10:31 tells us that even our eating and drinking is to be done for the glory of God.

* Col. 3:22 Slaves are told to obey their Master out of reverence for the Lord.

* 1 Pet. 2:13 says that all of us our to submit to human authority.
All of our action should be done out of a sense of devotion to God.

II. The Source of Power for Godly Character. Our power to have a godly character is from the risen Christ. Look at some of Paul’s statements about this: 2 Cor. 3:5, Col. 1:29, Phil 4:13 All of these verses teach us that the source of power for godliness is Christ, so the means of experiencing that power is through our relationship with Him. This is the Lord’s teaching in Jn. 15:4-5. We have to set aside any dependence on our own wisdom and strength of character and draw all that we need from Christ. This dependence is expressed through prayer like in Ps.119:33-37.

III. Godly Character Involves Putting Off and Putting On.
Paul reminds us of this principle and then makes some very challenging applications in Eph.4:22-5:4. The Lord Jesus practiced this as well Heb.1:9 and we are to follow His example according to Rom. 12:9.

IV. Godly Character Produces a Balanced Growth. 2 Pet. 3:18 Tells us to grow in the Grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. There should be a balance between growing in our appreciation and practice of grace and our knowledge of the Word and of the person of Christ. In Lk. 2:52 we are told that the Lord Jesus grew balanced. We also need to grow in all the graces that are considered the fruit of the Spirit in Gal. 5.

V. This Growth is to be Progressive. Read Phil. 3:12, 1 Thess. 4:9-10 We should always be growing in godly character, it is a never ending process.

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