Character is the sum total of our:
- self-discipline (the ability to do what’s right even if you don’t feel like it).
- core values (principles you live by that empower you to make a moral stand).
- sense of identity (a realistic self-image based on your gifts and personality and most importantly for Christians, who you are in Christ).
- emotional security (the capacity to be emotionally stable and consistent).
Your skill may get you to the top, but it’s your character that will keep you there.
While leadership skills are good to have, it does no good to develop your skills at the expense of your character and integrity.
So lead yourself well before you try leading others.
Strong character will hold you up strong and long enough to use your skills.
According to Tim Keller, there are 2 basic ways people try to find happiness and fulfillment:
- Moral conformity: Living “RIGHT”
- Self-Discovery: Living “FREE”
Everyone chooses one of these two ways and everyone thinks those in the other group are the problem in the world.
Those people are “immoral.” NO! Those people are “bigoted.”
Some go back and forth or hide behind one even though they are part of the other. And BOTH of these approaches are WRONG!
Actually the 2 ways are more similar than they appear. Moral conformists have the sin of pride as a barrier. It’s how they CONTROL life. If I am “good,” then I will be blessed.
But it doesn’t work that way.
This means you can rebel against God by breaking the rules OR by keeping all of them diligently.
You can avoid Jesus as Savior by keeping all the moral laws. Then God OWES you answered prayer and a good life. Religious people try to get leverage over God, to control Him.
They obey to get things. They don’t obey God to GET GOD HIMSELF. Sin is not just breaking the rules. It is putting yourself in the place of God as Lord.
So both ways are wrong and lead to Hell.
Matthew 25:37-40 (from the Message),
“Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’”
Now this is practical Christianity! yet how little most churches are doing this and simply sending money to others to do it.
Make certain that no one is without the basic means for survival: food, water, clothing. This is Kingdom work for an actual experience of the Kingdom.
And that work is caring for the very person of Jesus! Failing to do those things does violence to Jesus Himself!
Right belief is important. Right action is essential. Belief is not irrelevant. But what matters is whether or not that belief leads to making the world a better place for someone else.
How can you (and I) help one person today with something they need to live?
Finding success in our relationships has a lot to do with our inner condition. If we have grown in intimacy with God, our life will begin to change for the good (not circumstantially necessarily but in terms of relationships and character). If we have made strides in our struggle with lying or anger or worry, we will find that our ability to be in relationship with others will be enhanced. But the opposite is also true: if we are still ruled by anger, for example, learning how to love, forgive, and serve others will be more challenging. Good trees bear good fruit, or the inside is what leads to the outside (Matthew 7:16-20).
When Jesus called James and John to follow him, they left everything immediately (Matthew 4:21-22). They left their nets, their to-do lists and occupation and immediately followed.
Immediately was the response. I am urged and stirred to be an immediate responder–without hesitation, without delay.
Would I dare to have this level of immediate response? The trust?
God, give me the wisdom, discernment, and courage to obey–immediately.
Our God is a suffering God. Yes, He is holy, righteous, all-powerful. Yet He freely suffered…for US, and more so than we could ever imagine.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
4 Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:3-5
But why did God suffer? Because He loved and loves us. That means He also enters INTO OUR suffering.
For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. Hebrews 2:17-18
We are not alone in our suffering today. Jesus has been there and walked in your shoes and He is here for us right now.
Call out to Him.
After six days of creation, God stopped. God rested. God made it a pattern for His creation.
The seventh day stands alone to remind us that we are not the Creator. The world does not exist because of or for our mindless activity and busyness. Each week there is a reminder that we are the created, a part of something wonderful and awesome that is beyond our own clever crafting or industrious labor but comes from the mind of God.
God brought order to chaos by his world only. The result is a system of provision and abundance so magnificent that you only have to work six days and yet there is supply for seven.
The Garden of Eden has always been understood as “paradise.” Why? Because of the lush landscapes, beautiful views, and plentiful
food fruit? Because there is an absence of work and responsibility? No.
It’s paradise because of the presence of God. God would come and walk in the garden with them in the cool of the evening.
The Fall into sin for Adam and Eve split that relationship. The idyllic garden is to be no more until the new heaven and earth are formed again at the return of Christ. Yet, through the blood of Christ, our relationship has been restored and the Holy Spirit is present. No, it’s not Eden. But every day we walk with God now is a foretaste of future paradise.