Summary: A look at what Character is how it is formed and how it is lost.
Having Mother’s Day fall during Discover the Word can be a challenge because it is really expected that on Mother’s Day you will speak to Mothers. But when you are focusing on a specific book it can sometimes be hard to find the hook to work with a specific topic.
If you were here a year ago you might recall that we were focusing on the book of Acts and for Mother’s Day we looked at the Mother of John Mark and some of the things that defined her.
The book of Romans, not so easy, I did consider Romans 16:13 Greet Rufus, whom the Lord picked out to be his very own; and also his dear mother, who has been a mother to me. And I thought I could use it as a spring board into: what it would mean to be a mother.
But then I thought that was a bit of a stretch especially seeing as how the entire focus of Discover the Word is about learning about the particular book we are studying. So I went back to the drawing board and stumbled on the passage that was read earlier this morning, in particular Romans 5:3-4 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.
And the light came on, the light that is the passion of every Preacher’s heart the realization that “yes this will preach.” When I was growing up whenever I grumbled about having to do something I didn’t want to do or whined about the way a particular event ended up my mother would tell me “It’s good for you, it helps develop character.” I tried the same sage advice with my children only to be told “But I don’t want to be a character.” Somehow it seemed to have lost its meaning. Nevertheless that’s where this morning’s message is taking us. Last week I spoke on “The Nature of Sin”, this week we are going to look at “The Nature of Character” What it is and what it ain’t. And I think these are things that your mother would want you to know, how’d you like the “Mother’s Day” segue?
What Character Isn’t. Often we confuse a person’s reputation with their character. We see how a person acts when they are around us or around others and we define their character by those observations. We think: Well, they are kind to animals, keep their lawn mowed and don’t tell dirty jokes so they must have a sterling character.
There is a story told in the Old Testament, Saul had been king of Israel, but because of a series of sins and acts of disobedience another King is to be chosen. God gives direction to his prophet Samuel to go to the town of Bethlehem and that it is there he will find the next king. God had revealed to his prophet that his chosen would be the son of a man named Jesse, so he travels to Bethlehem meets with Jesse and says “Trot the boys out so I can have a look at them.” Or something like that. We pick up the story in 1 Samuel 16:6 When they arrived, Samuel took one look at Eliab and thought, “Surely this is the Lord’s anointed!” Don’t know what Eliab looked like but it must have been kingly because Samuel immediately jumped to the conclusion that he was the one who should be king, and they hadn’t even tried on the glass slipper yet, sorry wrong story.
Samuel seemed to have forgotten the qualifications that the last King, Saul, possessed. 1 Samuel 9:2 Saul was the most handsome man in Israel—head and shoulders taller than anyone else in the land.
Let’s pick the story up back in Bethlehem, 1 Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
And twenty five hundred years later the story is still the same. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
But isn’t that the easiest thing to do? To judge by outward appearances? We are warned to not judge a book by its cover, but when you don’t have time to sit there and read through the book you often make that first decision based on the cover. Most of you know that I am a prolific reader, I read at least one novel a week plus what I’m reading in the office and sometimes I start a book based solely on how cool the cover looks. When I was working with my publisher on the Penn of Denn he stressed how important the cover design would be if we wanted to get people to at least pick up the book.