Challenging believers in Jesus to think and act based on Bible truth.

On My Mind #10 – Importance of Personal Character

I’ll get right to the point – personal character is important to us as a society.  Don’t believe me?

Think about the scandals rocking two universities.  One of the main questions in both scandals is this: what did key people know and when did they know it?  This question is asked because people want to know if a coach, a university official, or otherwise had knowledge that could have stopped criminal acts but instead chose to stay silent to protect a relationship, themselves, or both.

Think about Herman Cain.  Seems like he’s been under the gun quite a bit because of personal character.  Accusations of harassment, an affair, etc. have his campaign to be president on the ropes (and likely over).  People aren’t sure they can trust him.  The joke the past couple days has been that Conrad Murray has a better chance of serving four years than Herman Cain.

No big surprise, but I like to think Biblically.  So here are four things to think about as you evaluate personal character of public figures, friends, and yourself.

1. The Bible tells us we should expect people to look out for themselves.

Yes, it’s tragic that people in charge would sacrifice victims of sexual abuse for their own position or for their friends rather than press the issue and potentially risk their own future.  When we’re under the influence of our sinful nature, we look out for ourselves.  In Philippians 2 we are taught to look out for others’ interests as Christ did when he died for us.  That’s a reflection that doesn’t really come naturally, and is hard even for long time Christians to perfect.

2. Don’t expect anyone to be perfect.  

The bottom line is that there are not very many people who could run for office with a “spotless” record.  There’s almost always a mistake someone, somewhere knows about.  And even if someone has a relatively clean background the Bible tells us everyone is under the curse of sin, so don’t be fooled by outward appearances.  Everyone needs the love of Jesus Christ as their only hope.

3. Look for someone who’s willing to be up front about their mistakes.

To me, this is one of the key things I’m looking for.  Someone in the public eye will often try to hedge in the face of difficult questions about their past.  If  someone is willing to admit their mistakes, I am much more willing to listen to them.  This was very true in the case of the steroid scandal in baseball.  Those who denied and denied their guilt in the face of solid evidence were subject to scorn.  Those who humbly admitted their mistakes were able to move on and generally gain public forgiveness.

This is more true in the Christian faith when Biblical expectations are in play.  I’m much more willing to listen to someone who is open about their shortcomings than someone who is always critical of others, justifying themselves, etc.  The ability to say “I’m sorry, I really messed that up . . . can you forgive me?” is a huge thing for the Christian to learn.  It should be a part of our vocabulary.

4. Evaluate everyone (including yourself) in the light of eternity.

Are we willing to do this?  Here are a few things that will help you think about this.  Do you rejoice in those who meet their shame, or do you pray for them?  Seriously, if you’re a believing Christian, have you prayed for Jerry Sandusky and truly turned his justice over to God who is ultimately just?  Sure he has a price to pay for what he’s done, but I’d love to be in heaven with him if he found Christ and sought forgiveness through the blood Jesus shed for him. Can you say the same about the Syracuse coach?  Herman Cain?  Conrad Murray?

And believing brother or sister, if you’re having trouble praying for them to find Christ and enjoy Him eternally, then start by remembering what it took for you to gain eternal life.  Jesus’ flesh was torn, His humanity was taken from him, He endured the pain of the sin of humanity – all so we can have peace with God.  And it’s not a peace that frees us hate sinners and rejoice in their downfall.  That’s what eternal justice is for.  In the meantime, we should be active to show as many sinners the love of Christ as possible.

Even the ones in the public eye who are easy to vilify.


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