Developing Godly Character
After the wall had been rebuilt and I had set the doors in place, the gatekeepers, the musicians and the Levites were appointed.
I put in charge of Jerusalem my brother Hanani, along with Hananiah the commander of the citadel, because he was a man of integrity and feared God more than most people do.
This Morning I would like to share a message that I believe the Lord has placed on my heart.
The title of the message is called “Developing Godly Character.”
Somebody say Character -
God Himself had a choice about how man would be created. He could have made us without free will, functioning like programmed robots whose only course of action is to carry out the instructions of their maker. But He chose to create us like Him, capable of making choices that are limited only by our knowledge and character.
This requires that we learn right from wrong and throughout time our character develops gradually by our decisions under God's guidance and assistance.
Wow that is heavy. Our character is developed by the decisions that we make.
What is character:
I looked up the word character in the dictionary and this is what it said:
1) the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing.
2) moral or ethical quality:
Someone once said Character is who you and I are when no one is looking.
Quote from Phillips Brooks
Character may be manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones.
Here is a little saying for you: Sow a thought, reap an act; sow an act, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.
Did you know that Godliness is not determined by the works of the ministry, but Godliness is found in how we treat people and the condition of our hearts?
See today's concept of Godliness tends to focus on what we do in Church and how well we do the works of ministry.
In today's concepts of Godliness, when you and I do ministry well we are assumed to be a person of character.
While that is a common concept today, it is not necessarily the test of true godly character.
Psalm Chapter 15 emphasizes the importance of godly character.
The psalm begins with a question: "Who can live before God?" You and I might be surprised at the answer.
Turn with me to Psalm 15 - Lets read it.
1 Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
Who may live on your holy mountain?
2 The one whose walk is blameless,
who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart;
3 whose tongue utters no slander,
who does no wrong to a neighbor,
and casts no slur on others;
4 who despises a vile person
but honors those who fear the Lord;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
and does not change their mind;
5 who lends money to the poor without interest;
who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
Whoever does these things
will never be shaken.
1) He who walks uprightly
2) works righteousness
3) speaks the truth in his heart
4) does not backbite
5) Honors those who fear the Lord
6) swears to his own hurt and does not change
7) doesnt not take up a bribe
Notice it’s not a lot of what you and I do in the Church House, but the emphasis is on social responsibility.
Godly character is expressed in the way a person treats others. It is not enough to approach God properly. He or she who approaches God properly treats other people with godly consideration.
Character is not so much of what we do for God, but who we are for God.
It is not what we know how to do such as our talents and gifts, but it is who we are Honesty, Integrity, keeping your word, and on and on.
How many here want to be a people of Character?
See character is who you and I are when we step outside of the house of God.
It is who we are, after Sunday is over, and our work week has started.
It is what you and I are made up of on the inside.
Quote by Carl Lundquist
Henry Wingblade used to say that Christian personality is hidden deep inside us.
It is unseen, like the soup carried in a tray high above a waiter's head. No one knows what's inside--unless the waiter is bumped, and he trips then it all comes out.!
Just so, people don't know what's inside us until we've been bumped. But if Christ is living inside, what spills out is the fruit of the Spirit.
Let me even put this in there for Free.
Sometimes we even think if a person preaches good, then they are a person of character.
That is not necessarily true.
See one can be very gifted, but the question is “Is does our character match our gifting?”
See what you see me doing right now is only 10 percent of my life.
I am maybe behind this pulpit once or twice a month, but that is not who I am.
What you see of me right now is only 10 percent of my life, but there is another 90 percent of me that you don't see.
You may know me on Sunday, but most of you don't know me the rest of the week and that is when my character is revealed.
If you hang out with me long enough throughout the week then you will know my character and who I am. You will find out who I really am and hopefully it matches up to what I say.
Right now, you are seeing what I do, but if you hang out with me long enough you will see who I am.
You will see if I pray.
You will see how I respond in traffic.
You will see how I treat others
You will see the other 90% percent of me.
Those who hang out with and that I am close to get to see who I really am.
My good days and my bad days. My good attitude days and my bad attitude days.
My good actions and my bad actions.
The ones close to me can point out things that I may not be perfect at, but that’s ok I can also point out somethings.
Come on Somebody.
Now don't look at me funny because right now we are only seeing 10 percent of your life, but who you really are comes out in the other 90 percent.
How we treat people.
The conversation we have.
The things we watch on television.
If we gossip or not.
If we lie.
Come on Somebody!!!
Quote by C.S. Lewis.
Surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of man he is. If there are rats in a cellar, you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats; it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way, the suddenness of the provocation does not make me ill-tempered; it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am.
The question is not how well our life is in the big things, but it is how well our life is in the little things.
It’s the little holes that sink big ships.
It is the little foxes that destroy the vine.
It is the little things that you and I do in the 90 percent of our life that shapes our character. These things will either build up our character or tear down our character.
Somebody say “character…”
When I think of character I think of a statue.
We have quite a few statues in South Africa.
In the states you also have quite a few statues.
Regardless of the statue they all have one thing in common.
No matter the time of the day, no matter if you talk about them, no matter if you through tomatoes at it, they all keep doing what they were doing before you talked about them.
That is how our character should be. We should be the same person outside of church, as we are in the church.
We should be the same person in the valley, as we are on the mountain top.
Whoever we are in the 10% is who we should be in the 90%
So, what you and I do in the 90% of what people don’t see is what shapes our character for the other 10% that people do see.
Now I know we know how to act good in church 10% , but the question is “is do we act the same outside of church 90%?”
When I hear about 90 percent unseen and 10 percent seen, it reminds me of an iceberg.
Did you know you only see 10% of an iceberg and the other 90% is under water?
Let me tell you a story about an iceberg.
On April 14, 1912 a luxury ocean liner on its maiden voyage struck on iceberg in the North Atlantic and sank within hours, sending some 1,500 people to cold, watery, graves.
The titanic tragedy has been memorialized in movies, books, and exhibits.
Did you know that from a leadership perspective we can learn a lot from the titanic?
The thing that caused the titanic to sink, which was supposed to be an unsinkable ship, was the fact that it hit an iceberg.
What can you and I learn from this?
Well let’s take a look at an iceberg.
Here is a little information for you...
You only see 10 percent of an iceberg above the water, the other 90 percent of an iceberg, is below the water.
So what happened when the titanic sunk is that the people who were the lookouts for the titanic spotted the visible part of the iceberg just in time to avoid it, but at that point, there was nothing they could do to avoid the huge mass of ice that was underneath the surface.
Upon impact of the iceberg the ship ruptured and sank.
It wasn’t the part that people see that sank the titanic, it was the that people don’t see.
The same thing with you and me. It is not the part what people see that effects our character, it is the part that people don’t see.
Yes, I know we are talented and we do ministry really good and that is Powerful, but we also need to focus on being Godly in things that people don’t see and that is what shapes our character.
See there are 2 things that we can learn from an iceberg.
1) It is what was below the surface that sank the ship. It wasn't the part that was seen, but it was the 90 percent of the iceberg that couldn't be seen that sank the ship.
See if you and I are going to be in this for the long haul we need to keep our focus on taking care of the 90 percent of our character that people don't see.
2) Another thing about the iceberg is that the 90 percent of what we don't see is what keeps and supports the other 10 percent above water.
What I get from this is that even though we can do the seen work good, that seen work should be supported by a spiritual foundation of what people can’t see.
Keeping our word
Having a pure heart
The things we do in public should be supported by what we do behind the scenes.
So our focus should be on taking care of our spiritual foundation, such as prayer, the Word, and our character - rather than focusing on what people see.
Sometimes as Christians we can get it backwards. We like to focus on what people see above the water (such as my abilities, what I can do, or how I can act, preach, teach, or whatever I can do in front of people) rather than what holds up my abilities and that is my character and my spiritual foundation.
It may be shocking on how many of us - come into the house of God and put our abilities to work, but we haven't spent time with God in prayer or the Word.
What can happen is you and I like to focus on the 10 percent that people see.
We figure if I can just work on what people see, then I will be good..
No so, it is the foundation that keeps the building standing in the midst of the storm.
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.
26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.
27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
What should our foundation consist of?
Prayer – Reading the Word – Integrity – Godliness – Fruits of the Spirit
See these are things that people who are only around us in our 10 percent might not see, but it should be what we are trying to grow in.
Quote - John Wooden, former coach of the UCLA Bruins basketball team, quoted in Sanctity of Life, C. Swindoll, Word, 1990, p. 91
Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation. Your character is what you really are while your reputation is merely what others think you are.
The visible 10 percent represents what you and I do for God such as our skills, talents, coming to church, getting involved, and using our giftings. These are things that people see us do.
The other 90 percent represents decisions, values, choices, attitudes, and qualities that make us who we are but can't be seen from the outside. It is who we are.
How many want to be all who God has called you to be?
When Nehemiah was looking for a man to be in charge of the walls he had just finished building he didn’t look for the most talented man, or the most gifted man, but he chose Hananiah because he was a man of character and feared God more that most men do.
Do you want God to entrust you with his people and his call?
Then our challenge is to be a people that fear God and walk in Godly character.