Have Character; Don't Be a Character
Issue 35: Have Character; Don't Be a Character
We all know people who have character. We also know those who are
simply characters. And it is pretty easy to distinguish between the
two. We trust people with character and do not trust the so-called
1 Corinthians 15:32 warns us to guard our character as it relates to
the company we keep: "Do not be misled: `Bad company corrupts good
character.'" Likewise, Acts 17:4 alludes to the potential of what bad
characters can do: " so they rounded up some bad characters from the
marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city."
Evangelist D. L. Moody said, "Character is what you are in the dark."
Along that same train of thought is this, "True character is what we
are when nobody's looking, in the secret chambers of the heart." One
person piercingly puts it this way: "You can tell a lot about a man by
the way he treats those who can do nothing for him."
But how do we keep our heads above water, so to speak, when it comes
to character? The answer is pretty simple. It has to do with our
integrity or lack thereof. The dictionary defines integrity as "the
state of being complete, unified." In other words, if a person has
integrity, then his or her words and deeds match up. That person is
who he or she is no matter where he/she is at or who he/she is with.
Beyond the dictionary definition, however, is the Biblical
perspective. In 1 Chronicles 29:17 it states, "I know, my God, that
you test the heart and are pleased with integrity." And Proverbs 11: 3
indicates "The integrity of the upright guides them, but the
unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity."
In other words, a person of integrity does not have divided
loyaltiesand can be known as a person of character, a person worthy
of trust. V. Gilbert Beers says, "A person of integrity is one who has
established a system of values against which all of life is judged."
Having less than full-grown integrity, however, can result in a person
becoming a character. Here are a few examples: The ancient Chinese
built a great wall to keep out barbariansa wall so high and so thick
that they believed it to be impenetrable and believed themselves to be
secure. During the first hundred years after the wall was built,
however, China was invaded three timesbut it wasn't due to any breach
in the wall. It was due to a breach of integrity. Each time, a
gatekeeper was bribed and the enemy was able to march right through
Hester H. Cholmondelay's short poem titled "Judas" gives us another
Still as of old
Men by themselves are priced
For thirty pieces Judas sold
Himself, not Christ.
When you lack integrity, you lack character and can be easily bought
out. When you have integrity, you cannot be bought out. Period.
Want an acid test of whether or not you have character or are a
character? Ask someone who knows you very well (and who is not afraid
to speak truth to you) what areas of your life have integrity and what
areas you may need some work on.
And while this may be a risky venture, it may pay great dividendsand
could even keep you from becoming a character.