Tuesday, January 19, 2016

What's So Great About Character?

I wasn’t concerned with character as I grew up. I was concerned with survival.

I’m not even sure that I heard the word character in my family at all. Most likely I heard about character in school, but I don’t remember ever wondering if I had it.

I grew up in the conservative Midwest, and at a time when family dysfunction of any kind was not talked about. My extended family was one plagued by alcohol, drug, sexual and physical abuse; all stemming from physical depression and spiritual oppression. What I now know to be a spirit of lying, had invaded my family and permeated every nook and cranny of our home. It was actually a dangerous place for a little girl, but as often is the case, no one on the outside knew.

I gave my life to Jesus Christ at age 14 and right then I made the decision to be different; to purpose to live a life without financial struggle, emotional pain, abuse or heartbreak. Unfortunately, I took the long way around in getting to the life I so desired.  I had no idea how to accomplish this life and what I did not understand at the time, was I did not have the character to support a different lifestyle. My character was weak.

My early adult life was earmarked with common mistakes made by a woman growing up in an abusive environment. I found myself choosing the “wrong” man and then fighting to keep him. I struggled with every area of my life: romantic relationships, financial responsibility and interpersonal skills.

God carried me through the dark times. I am humbled and amazed that He never left my side, even as I pushed Him away. He built my character along the way, sometimes inch by inch and sometimes a mile at a time. Today, I have a wonderful, Godly man and we work together in ministry. My character is strong and II can now share this experience with other women.

Abraham Lincoln said “Character, is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.”

Webster defines character as “a moral or ethical quality: Our moral state”, and that is true. But as women following Christ, is there more?

Character is much more than what others see on the outside. It has been said that character is who we are when no one is looking, or when there is no one around to judge us, to give us a pat on the back, or give us recognition.
Through God’s word, we can come to know His character. His love, mercy, and compassion; His courage and strength; His faithfulness and justice.

As Christ followers, we want our character to match up with who we say we are. We want to develop and display the character of strong, Christ centered women. 
Dale Carnegie said “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

So what does it mean to become a woman of character? A woman of character means living from a point of authenticity. A woman of character is honest, full of integrity, reliable, loyal, forgiving, kind, and compassionate.

We must seek character traits which reflect Christ in us. God’s word makes it very clear what Christian character traits we are to have. As Christ followers this is our guideline.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness……Galatians 5:22