Characters with Character
Think for a moment about all the characters in your life; think about how you recognize them and tell them apart. Which traits stand out for you? All sorts of things make up a person’s character: their opinions, actions, physical features, what they say, where they work, and even who surrounds them. Over time, our character can transform and be influenced. We may not often consider these sources of influence; however, we will consider these sources in August with our next sermon series called “characters with character.”
Scripture has a lot to say about having a good character so as to influence others. Read Matthew 5 with me:
Who brought light to your path? I can recall the summer months from years ago; I would stop by grandma’s house about once every other week. She always had a list of chores for me and I was happy to spend time with her. I would mow the yard, clean window sills, move furniture up from the basement, help pull weeds and plant vegetables in the garden. At noon she would whip up a home cooked meal and offer stories from her week. From her, I would pick up the virtue of hard work and gratitude.
I would learn similar value principles from many more: from my other grandparents, I would learn the virtue of hospitality and respect. From several teachers: the value of honesty and integrity. From my golf coach: the value of persistence and humility. And from my parents, I learned, among others, the virtue of evaluating and correcting your own motivations.
Of course, this a small sample, and yes I too need reminders from time to time. However, if you too can reflect on the source of your virtues then you too may realize that learning morality is hardly a natural occurrence; I had to be nurtured into adopting these virtues.
This brings up an important point: character is cultivated, reinforced, and best adopted within transformative relationships. What I mean to say is that your character is largely self-determined; you choose who you want to be. However, that choice can be influenced, modeled, or even borrowed from others. Time after time we perceive a flaw or issue within ourselves after comparing ourselves to an outside standard.
So, if we know that we are going to mirror, mimic and borrow virtues from outside sources then we ought to be sure that we are picking from the best possible example. Romans 12:2-3 brings this point home:
After all, we too are characters of influence; what we say, do, and how we think will all have some impact on those around us. Therefore, be imitators of God, work with the best of motivations, consume wisdom as often as you are able, and commit to serving God; now and always. Amen.