I heard the preacher say one Sunday morning, “Character is what you are when no one is looking.”
Solid, real, transparent, Christlike character seems lacking in our churches and culture. Not one of us can claim flawlessness here. We are cracked pots on our best days (2 Corinthians 4:7). But integrity, honesty, and wholeness are God’s will for us and his work in us (Romans 8:29).
Recently, I was wandering through Psalms and ran onto Psalm 101 as a profound dedication to the development of godly character. Look how it sketches it out:
Keep your eye on your integrity
Verse two says, “I will pay attention to the way of integrity” (CSB).
We need to decide and declare our commitment to godly character. Faith is about deciding. It’s responding to the revelation of God in Christ and choosing in faith to become the person God dreams we can be by cooperating with him.
Going public helps us to be more accountable. Secret, internal vows are often sinful vows, or vows we are less likely to keep. Those who write down their goals and speak them to others are more likely to follow through. The same can be said for character development goals.
Do you have a safe person or two you can have this kind of discussion with?
Choose your friends and advisors carefully
The sixth verse says, “My eyes favor the faithful of the land so that they may sit down with me. The one who follows the way of integrity may serve me.”
Peer pressure is a real, normal, and potentially positive thing. It can also be amazingly destructive. “Bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Corinthians 15:33). Every disciple and church leader needs a mixture of relationships that includes mentors, coaches, peers, partners, and people they are investing in. They are not all the same kinds of relationships. We don’t need to spend the same kind or amount of time on the various relationships.
John Maxwell wrote, “The people closest to you determine your success or failure.”
Who are you inviting to “sit down with me”? (See Psalm 1.)
We must choose daily to renew our directional commitment.
Character is constructed one brick at a time, one decision at a time, one day at a time. It does not seem fair, but what takes years to build can be destroyed quickly.
David, who wrote these words, knew that reality. In the final verse of Psalm 101, the king says, “Every morning I will destroy all the wicked of the land, wiping out all evildoers from the Lᴏʀᴅ’s city.”
I don’t know if he meant that literally, but maybe he did. It certainly speaks to his daily determination to guard and grow his integrity and that of the surrounding city to the extent he could influence it.
Consistent holiness should be a consistent prayer. Temptation creeps back every night and looks for the “opportune time.” Jim Denison made this observation recently, “If we have been successful in letting Jesus be King today, while we sleep, it seems we nudge him off the throne of our hearts and again sit down to take control. Every morning we must invite him again to be our King” (my paraphrase).
This quote from singer/songwriter Eric Taylor helped me: “I said you need to strive to be better than everyone else. I didn’t say you needed to be better than everyone else. But you gotta try. That’s what character is: It’s in the try.”
Also, I highly encourage you to read “5 Lessons on Integrity Drawn From the Book of Daniel” right now. It’s by Pastor Charles Stone and gives us some practical applications of Christlike character in the life of Daniel.
Here’s my close: vharacter is crucial if we want to be culture-changing Christians.
James Merritt tweeted this recently: God wants to do something in me more than he wants to do something for me because by doing something in me he prepares me for what he wants to do for me. God knows what he is doing.
May God make you and me more salty bright for his glory (Matthew 5:13–16).