1 Timothy 4:11-12(NIrV)
11 Command and teach these things. 12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young. Set an example for the believers in what you say and in how you live. Also set an example in how you love and in what you believe. Show the believers how to be pure. (emphasis added)
Whether you consider yourself old or young there are times in our lives which reveal our character. Often these are thought of as ‘testing’ times, times of trouble, but our character becomes just as apparent in good times – we’ve all heard of ‘poor losers’ but is there anything quite as grating as a ‘poor winner’?
Whether our character is being tested by tough times or by times of apparent strength or confidence, it is on display to those around us. So what is character and does it matter?
Is it simply the way we behave? Are we just worrying about the way others see us? Is that too much like the pharisee praying on the street corner so everyone can see? Surely if we are saved not by our works but by God’s grace, then character is not important – or, if it is, it should simply be a result of the Spirit’s work in us, not something we need to think about or work on?
There is certainly some validity in those arguments. If appearances are my goal, then yes, I’m being like the pharisee. If, on the other hand, I understand that developing my character means becoming the person God created me to be, then it becomes an essential part of my growth both as Christ’s disciple and as a discipler of others.
Improving our character is not about becoming ‘good enough’ for God to love – or to earn our way into heaven. That only happens because of what God did for us by sending Jesus to die and rise again. We should though, be aiming to become more and more like the person God made us to be.
1 Timothy 4 makes it clear that in leadership, and all of us lead in some way – whether our family, friends, workmates or in more formal settings – character is especially important as we have a bigger impact on people around us who follow the example we set and do the things we do. Leadership will likely include teaching and giving instruction but it must involve setting an example of what it looks like to do what we are teaching. We should be extra careful that we don’t say one thing and do another.
Developing our character is a journey. You could say it is The Journey of your life – The Journey to become the person God created you to be.
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