October 2015

Character

One of the best letters of reference ever received at the University of Alabama Medical School, according to its former director of admissions Henry H. Hoffman, came from an old miner in a small town. The letter read: "Knowed this kid from the day he was born. He played with my kids, mowed my yard. I don't know if he has sense enough to make it in medical school, but I do know he'll be the kind of man I'd like to take care of me and my folks." The old miner would recommend the young man, because of the young man's character. 

Character is more than talent. Talent is, to some extent, a gift. Good character, by contrast, is not given to us, but we must build it piece by piece, thought by thought, choice by choice, day by day. Character is the inside of a person. It's what a person does when nobody is looking, when the boss is away, when the pressure is on during the test, when the car runs out of gas, when the child pushes you to your limit, when someone falsely accuses you, or when you fill out your IRS form. Character is more than just doing the right things, because doing is tied closely with activity, roles, accomplishments, and trophies. Character is tied to being. It is not what people say about you or what you achieve, but it's who you are on the inside. Jesus said, "The good man out of his good treasure brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of his evil treasure brings forth what is evil."(Matt 12:35) Character is who we are on the inside, and much of that cannot be measured by objective yardsticks, accomplishments and awards. It's thinking the right thoughts; having the right motives; making the right choices; and doing the right thing. Churches today are promoting Christian behavior modification. Yet, Christlikeness does not come from doing certain things externally. True Christianity and Christlikeness begins on the inside and then works its way to the outside. True Christlikeness is concern about the inner man- our character.  Bill Hybel in his book Who You Are When
No One's Looking reveals these qualities of character. Character is discipline, achieving success through delayed gratification. Character is vision, looking beyond the obvious and seeing what God wants us to see. Character is endurance, crashing through quitting points in our life. Character is tender love (compassion), willing to walk in someone else's shoes. Character is tough love, doing what is best for the other person. Character is honesty, being truthful in relationships, whether it is your spouse, employer, neighbor, or enemy.
    
Mother Teresa, of Calcutta, spoke to the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC, on February 3, 1994 on the topic of abortion with the President and Mrs. Clinton at the head table. This little lady got up and spoke with power beyond her frame. Part of her speech was: “I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? We have saved thousands of lives. From our children's home in Calcutta alone, we have saved over 3000 children from abortion. If we remember that God loves us, and that we can love others as He loves us, then America can become a sign of peace for the world.” 

Interestingly, the next speaker after Mother Teresa was President Clinton.  All he could say after the little lady was, “It is hard to argue with a life!” Our life is a reflection of our character. Scripture says, "The tree is known by its fruit" (Matt 12:33).  What kind of fruit are you producing? Your inner character is the seed of your fruit.
                
                                                                                                                            -Pastor Mike Kotrla