Summary: In this sermon you will consider the importance of developing a Christ honoring character.
It is necessary at times to give extra attention to components of our lives. Sometimes it may be your weight. Sometimes it may be a health issue. Sometimes it may be an emotional issue. However, one aspect of our lives should receive life time attention. That is our character.
What kind of story is your character communicating? Each of our lives are telling a story. Some stories are good. Some stories are bad. Some stories have a happy ending. Some stories have a sad ending. We have a choice in how that story turns out. Your character will affect the telling of your story. We find a challenging truth on this subject in I Tim. 4:12. Paul tells Timothy to “Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” Your life story will be based on your character. Paul instructs Timothy to guard his character.
I want to ask three questions as we examine this text. Why be concerned about your character? What will a Godly character accomplish? What are the traits that make up a Godly character?
I. The first question is: Why be concerned with your character?
A. Some people might say “character is not important.” “Does it really matter?” If you study the Bible you come to understand that character is tremendously important. It matters to God. Consider these scriptures.
“be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, ” Phil. 2:15 RSV
“For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience that we have behaved in the world, and still more toward you, with holiness and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God”. II Cor. 1:12 RSV
“BLESSED ARE those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord! ” Ps. 119:1 RSV
B. Your character defines your life. To illustrate the importance of character I am going to call out some names. I want you to identify the first thing you remember about these people. By calling these names I am not judging these people and the final chapter of their lives. Each of them may have ended or will end life as a saint. However, the shortcomings of their character left a huge scar on their lives. All of us have scars on our lives. These scars come from poor decisons and sinful mistakes. I am so glad that God helps us to start over and He forgives us for our failures. These individuals, like us, need or needed to find a new beginning. They illustrate how character defines a life.
II. What will a Godly character accomplish?
A. Your character gives strength to your words. In our text Paul instructs Timothy to preach and teach the word. (see vs. 11). If you are trying to share your faith but your actions invalidate your words then you have wasted your words. Your actions legitimize your words. We need people who will legitimize the gospel. I once heard someone say “What you are speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you say.”
B.. Your character can make up for inadequacies in other areas of your life. That is the point in our text. Paul tells young Timothy to be an example for other believers, in spite of his youth. Character will qualify you when age, training and other qualities may be missing from your life. God is not as concerned with your ability and your age as he is your character.
C. Your character gives others an example to follow (vs. 12)Paul instructed Timothy to be an example.
Illustrate: A study once disclosed that if both Mom and Dad attend church regularly, 72% of their children remain faithful. If only Dad, 55% remain faithful. If only Mom, 15%. If neither attended regularly, only 6% remain faithful. The statistics speak for themselves--the example of parents and adults is more important than all the efforts of the church.
(SOURCE: Warren Mueller in Homemade, May, 1990.)
D. Your character points others to God (see vs. 15-16.)
Illustration: Ronald Reagan’s attitude after the 1982 attempt on his life made an impression on his daughter, Patti Davis:
“The following day my father said he knew his physical healing was directly dependent on his ability to forgive John Hinckley. By showing me that forgiveness is the key to everything, including physical health and healing, he gave me an example of Christ-like thinking.”
SOURCE: Leadership Magazine. Christianity Today, Inc. To Illustrate: Forgiveness: Angels Don’t Die, Leadership Spring 1997, pg. 70.
(Contributed to Sermon Central by Kenneth Squires)
III. What are the traits that make up a Godly character? In verse 12 of our text Paul identifies several traits that should be attended in building a Godly character.