Summary: This was actually delivered by my son Matt. He preached during YOUTH SUNDAY. Character counts, and we all should still be working on it.
Character counts: I am working on it
I. How does one pick a plumber? a mechanic? a carpet-layer? an evangelist? a truck driver? The answer: By referral. What others are saying about that person.
Very heavy weights (like people’s respect and confidence) are hung on the thin wire of reputation. (Swindoll) Thomas Dewar wrote, "Nothing deflates so fast as a punctured reputation." I want to have a reputation similar to Timothy. On three different occasions it was stated by three different persons that Timothy wholly followed the Lord.
Character in the Greek denotes a mark left by an engravers tool. It is noticeable by anyone. Our lives may be the only Bible people read
2 Cor 3:3-4 You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. 4 Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God.
Timothy is a man of character. He is born of a Greek father and a Jewish mother. His mother and his grandmother had taught him in the most excellent way. 3 I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. 4 Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. 5 I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. 6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. (2Tim 1:3-6)
Character is something we continue to work one. Paul tells us in Romans 5:1-4
1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.
I would like to tell you what made me want to be a Christian. My brothers were both baptized into Christ as teenagers. I saw the difference in them. I saw in them what Jesus means to them. Even in the hard times as Paul spoke about. Our family at that time was going through some very rough times, yet I saw my family staying faithful to Jesus Christ. I saw the change that having Christ in their life meant, and at age 11 I wanted that for me. Character counts.
Timothy grows in character. In Acts 16: 3-5 we see how this develops. Paul returns to Lystra on his second missionary journey. During his first trip there he found trouble, he was stoned and left for dead. Maybe Paul wondered if anyone had heard him. I am sure my parents wondered before I was baptized if I was listening, and they found out, just like Paul, someone was listening. For Paul that someone was Timothy
1 He came to Derbe (DERBY) and then to Lystra,(LISTRA) where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was a Jewess and a believer, but whose father was a Greek. 2 The brothers at Lystra and Iconium (I CONE KNEE UM) spoke well of him. 3 Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.
During my early years I am sure my Dad wondered if I was listening. After all I was still only 11, not much may have seemed to change. I remember one time my Dad and I went to a Promise Keepers conference in Knoxville. That Saturday sessions seemed to go on and on, my Dad did not have much money and I was always hungry or thirsty. It was the late session that afternoon, I was thirsty and wanted something to drink, my dad had some change and gave it to me. He told me I could buy a drink after this session. During the session I learned that James Byrd, a black man, was being buried in Texas that afternoon. James Byrd was killed by some white men only because he was black. I asked my dad why they killed him, he told me because the men hated him because he was black. I remember seeing a very large black man sitting behind us, I turned to the man and told him I was sorry, some very stupid men did a very stupid thing. Then I heard that they were taking up an offering for the family of James Byrd, without hesitation, I put the change that my dad gave me to buy a drink in that offering. The man behind me asked why I did that, I told him “I can go home and get a drink, those boys can’t go home and get another daddy, I just want to help.” My dad taught me to care for others, I guess on that day he realized I was listening, just as Paul realized Timothy was listening.