Summary: Learning self control is about how your mind learns to rule your body, your passions, your hungers and your appetites.
CHARACTER UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Who said the following?:
"With all the power that a President has, the most important thing to bear in mind is this: You must not give power to a man unless, above everything else, he has character. Character is the most important qualification the President of the United States can have."
It was Richard Nixon, in 1964. That was 10 years before he resigned the Presidency to avoid being impeached amidst the shame of the Watergate cover-up.
Who said the following?:
"Undeniably, character does count for our nation, and this week we celebrate the importance of character in our individual lives. Core ethical values of trustworthiness, fairness, responsibility, caring, respect, and citizenship form the foundation of our democracy, our economy, and our society."
It was President Bill Clinton in a speech during National Character week, October 1997. That was exactly two months before Monica Lewinsky scandal broke out.
I bring you back to these two key moments in our national memory, not because these two men were evil or because they were the victims of right wing or left wing conspiracies. I mention them because they were victims of something much more serious: tragic lapses in Character.
Let’s define our terms. Character is not success, or talent, or even reputation… it’s who we are when no one’s looking. It’s the strength of your moral sense under the surface, away from the public eye. That’s character.
- Character is confronting an old fear, a bad habit, an intimidating person,
- Character is doing the right thing, even when the wrong thing is legal or acceptable to others.
- Character, is enduring a short term evil because it will yield a long term good.
Character is our world’s most pressing need. When polled in the Washington post, in 1998 Americans said something is seriously wrong with our nation’s moral compass.
Two questions were asked:
- first, regarding morals and values are things in this country going in the right direction or have they gotten seriously off track. 76% said seriously off track.
- Second question: are you more concerned that the country will become too tolerant of behaviors that are bad for society or that the country will become too Intolerant of behaviors NOT harmful to society. 66% said we’re getting too lax
We know something’s wrong, but most of us don’t know what to do about it. We just know that lack of character is killing us… It’s…
- at the root of failed marriages which are at the root of a whole generation of brokenness and pain.
- Lack of character caused Watergate, Filegate,
- Lack of character spawned the Enron scandal, the Savings and Loans scandal, which cost billions of dollars and thousands of jobs.
- Lack of character has caused environmental disasters,
- has drug out wars that should have ended and restrained wars that should have been fought.
- It has caused the epidemic of battered wives and children.
- It’s somehow behind a national sexuality that seems out of order
- It’s spawned a whole generation of people who mistrust all institutions, church, government, family and business.
Our world is crying out for strength of character! Now, let me quickly state that no matter how wonderful your character is, it will never be wonderful enough to earn God’s approval. Heaven cannot be earned because God’s character is above any standard of character that we can ever attain in this life.
This will be amply illustrated on the fourth week, when we talk about a most important character trait to God: Faith - which is a sort of lynch pin for the full development of truly sterling character. But to the extent that we get on that plan, the world will be a lot better place.
The best way I could think of to encourage the development of each character trait we’ll talk about, was to illustrate using two people from the Bible who show the two sides of a character virtue: one where it’s present and once absent.
For self control the first guy’s name is Sampson. Sampson was born during a time when the Jews had no king and everyone did what was right in their own eyes. Without a king to hold them accountable, they needed their own strong moral sense IE: character so they would hold THEMSELVES accountable.
But that didn’t happen. There was a lot of freedom and no responsibility. So God allowed that nation to be ruled by the cruel Philistines for 40 years. After that period of discipline, God had a plan to rescue his people.
He sent an angel to a childless couple to tell them that they would have a baby the following year and this baby must be treated special. No strong drink, no fancy or harmful foods. He must be totally dedicated to God so no razor on his head and the result would be, Sampson who have amazing physical strength and would become a national deliverer, as an invincible warrior.