During President Clinton’s dark time, a news reporter tried to pull George Bush Sr. into a Clinton bashing session. Bush offered only two words that said it all: “Character Counts”.
Character is the set of outward facing qualities that tell our friends, our families, and the world who we really are on the inside. Character is the reflection of what is really at the center of our heart. It’s not about the words we speak, as anybody can say anything. It’s about how we live our lives, since our outward behaviors usually reveal the attitudes and motivators in our heart.
Anybody can pretend and wear a mask to hide the true nature of what is on the inside. That’s where pressure, stress, life’s storms, or a bit of adversity come into play. You see, it is much more difficult to put on a mask in the midst of challenging circumstances….it is often during those storms where people’s true colors are more easily revealed. It’s what makes us interesting and attractive, or reveals some inner ugliness!
Pressure and adversity push what’s inside us up to the surface. It shows what our default settings are, and whether we are God focused or me focused.
So how do we develop Character? In Romans 5:3-4, Paul teaches us that suffering produces character. While it is admittedly difficult, try to see and be thankful for the fact that God is using life’s difficulties…and Satan’s attacks…to build your character. God brings storms to 1. build character, 2. show us what is at the center of our heart, or 3. allow us to succeed, shining His glory to others to guide them through their storms.
Today, take notice when things don’t go your way, what is your behavior revealing about the character of your heart? What is your knee-jerk response? What if you did the first action that came to mind, what would you learn about your heart? You can build character, but it will take intentionality and practice. Better to practice building character, because if you aren’t, you are practicing being a me-centered slug by default. Your choice, so choose well.
Dear Father, Thank You, God, for the opportunities you give me, through my difficulties, to grow in Your strength. I pray that You help me develop character that pleases You and allows me to be an example of a good child of Yours. I confess, Lord, that I spend too much time and energy on my image management. Help me shift that effort to improving my character. Suffering and difficulty seems to be the norm for me rather than the exception. Help me, Father, to use these difficulties and suffering to build perseverance…and use perseverance to build my character. With Godly character, hope will be strong and abundant. I ask in the name of our Suffering Servant, Jesus Christ; and all God’s children say – AMEN!
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7