What is the Content of Your Character?

M.L.King.Quotes“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”  Everyone recognizes this famous quote from Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech which was delivered 50 years ago this year.

On this national holiday, which was signed into law by President Reagan in 1986, that honors the slain civil rights leader, it’s good to think again about the value of character.

We have come a long way.  Fifty years ago bigotry was accepted in many circles.  And prejudice was too often demonstrated even by those who called themselves Christians.  But even with our progress, we still face the temptation to superficially judge others by race, ethnicity, social status, or economic success.  These measurements will always fail.  Character is paramount.

Though not as famous as the “content of character’ quote, Dr. King made many other important observations that relate to character.

Regarding the value of a proper education he once said, “Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education.”

On another occasion, he correctly observed, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and conveniences, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”    

In The Testament of Hope, Dr. King wrote, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

Speaking to the issue of conscience and ethics, he said, “Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.” 

Martin Luther King encouraged others to serve, to work, and to use whatever talent, ability or opportunity one possessed.  He said, “Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”

All of these quotes speak to some aspect of one’s character.  Of moral qualities.  Ethical standards. Honor and integrity.

Indeed character is the foundation of all other qualities. Goodness. Virtue. Honesty. Courage.  Purity. All of these and more are the fruit produced from the root of character. They are the handiwork of thoughts, influences, and relationships. The wise man wrote, “As he thinks in his heart so is he” (Prov 23:7).

So today, examine yourself. What is the content of your character? Do you need a course correction?  Do your attitudes and actions pass the “character test”?

As Dr. King once said, “the time is always right to do what is right.”  After all, isn’t that what being a person of character means?

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman

9 Comments

Filed under character

9 responses to “What is the Content of Your Character?

  1. We were on a very similar wavelength in the Ultimate Blog Challenge today Ken. We are still presented every day with opportunities to do right or wrong. It always time to clean “house.” Great combination of MLK selections! Thank you.

  2. PK

    Oh my, this post is AWESOME! It is a great reminder to always check out behavior/character because it starts with us.

    Pamela

  3. Larry Harris

    MLK would be ashamed of the liberties that people now take with the Bible, Godly Living, Family, honesty, marriage, uprightness and the list goes on. God is awesome.

  4. What’s up i am kavin, its my first time to commenting anywhere, when i read this post i thought i could also make comment due to this brilliant piece of writing.

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