“Your honor. I’m not guilty. My reputation in this community is spotless. My character is beyond reproach.
“Do you have any witnesses who can vouch for your character? asked the Judge.
The man pointed across the courtroom “The sheriff over there.”
The sheriff immediately jumped to his feet, “Your honor. That man’s a liar. I’ve never seen him before in my life!”
The man turned to the judge and smiled. “See, I’ve lived in this community 25 years and the sheriff doesn’t even know me. Isn’t that character enough?”
The answer is….NO! Character is more than what you don’t do. Character is who you are. And what you are. In this final post on the qualities of Christian character, we want to consider the final three letters of our acrostic.
A trustworthy person is dependable. Reliable. Faithful. Honorable. And honest. Trust is an issue of integrity. When Moses was considering men to set over business of Israel, he issues this edict. “Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe” (Num 18:21). God is always looking for men and women who can’t be bought. Who fear God. Honor others. And possess self-respect.
Jesus, our perfect example, is identified as “faithful and true” (Rev. 3;14). We can trust Jesus. He is reliable. Dependable. Authentic. The Christian that follows Christ can be trusted with money. Accepting responsibility. Completing assignments. Telling the truth.
Former PepsiCO chairman and CEO Craig Weatherup says, “People will tolerate honest mistakes, but if you violate their trust you will find it very difficult to ever regain their confidence. That is one reason that you need to treat trust as your most precious asset. You may fool your boss, but you can never fool your colleagues or subordinates.”
This character quality may be more natural for women. In fact, in the past, empathy has been regarded as something unmanly. But for the Christian of character, both men and women, we must work to be empathetic. Caring. Kind. Compassionate. There is an old axiom that “people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
Once again Jesus is our example of empathy. He saw the people as scattered Sheep and “had compassion on them.” He looked at the rich young ruler and “he loved him.” We see his care for little children. His compassion for the weeping woman whose son had died. At the tomb of Lazarus where “Jesus wept.”
Empathy involves being aware of other’s needs. Identifying with their feelings. And feeling their pain. Bob Pierce said, “Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.”
The character of the Christian can be summed up in one word “righteous.” Righteous people think, speak and act in righteous ways. That means with virtue. Purity of life. Moral excellence. Ethical decisions. Honorable actions.
Righteousness has at least three aspects. There is spiritual righteousness which is justification with God. Righteousness of character that engages in conduct that pleases god. And social righteousness that seeks justice, fairness, and equity for our fellow-man. Righteous people:
◆Hungers and thirsts after it. Mt 5:6
◆Exceeds externals, but is focused on internals. Mat. 5:20
◆Seeks first the kingdom of God. Matt 6:33
◆Puts on the breastplate of righteous Eph. 6:14
◆Produces the fruit of righteousness Phil. 1:11
◆Flees youthful lusts. 2 Tim. 2:22
◆Walks in his integrity. Prov. 20:7
◆Considers the cause of the poor. Prov. 29:7
◆Speaks wisdom and talks of justice. Ps. 37:20
So, here they are. 9 qualities of Christian character. Characteristics for men of God and women professing godliness to acquire. To develop. To grow. And to reproduce.
In closing, remember that the sum of your life is not about position, but personhood. Not about titles, but integrity. Not about credentials, but character.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman