Character

Michael Pawelke | Sep 9, 2013

Character is who we are on the inside. Character is who we are when we are alone. Character is not the same as our heart, but it is the quality of our heart. We could call character the measurement or moral assessment of our heart. Our heart is the core of who we are. It is out of this core that everything emanates. There are numerous Hebrew and Greek words which have been translated into the English word “character”. These words vary in meaning including “reputation”, “standing” or “inner qualities”. While there is no single defining word that enlightens us, context appears to be our most helpful aid. Consider the following ways in which the word translated “character” is used.

    • And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All my fellow townsmen know that you are a woman of noble character (Ruth 3:11).
    • Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true (Acts 17:11).
    • Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope (Romans 5:3, 4).
    • Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33).

The theme that the inner life is the foundation of the outer life is a frequent message that Jesus highlighted (consider Matthew 23:25-28). Jesus spoke a great deal about the nature of our heart. In our current cultural context “heart” usually is used to describe one’s emotions, or as that place where we get gut hunches and drives. You know, “just follow your heart!” Hollywood loves to use heart in this way. Biblically, however, “heart” appears to be the mysterious and complex centre of our longings, thinking, motivation, and values. Out of our “heart” proceed our choices, behaviours, and emotions. Our heart has been damaged by the fall, but can be changed by God. Yes, the heart is bent, but it is redeemable.

    • The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve (Jeremiah 17:9, 10).
    • “I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19).

Consider also how the heart shapes our lives:

    • Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name (Psalm 86:11).
    • Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life (Psalm 4:23).

Today, take some time to lend to our heart. Take time to reflect on why you are doing what you are doing? Make sure your character and your heart are in a good place so that the fruit of your core honours God.

Partnering together,
Michael