Today was a beautiful day! It wasn't all that warm, but the sun was out. It wasn't raining or snowing-Yeah! The sky was blue, the air was crisp, the mountain and hills stood amazingly clear in the distance and I had to get out to soak up the sun's rays and the day's magnificence. Also, the shovel and the dirt were calling my name.
Over the last couple weeks, as I look out the windows or drive by the flower beds I see things that need to be moved or removed. It drives me crazy to watch them and not get to the job, but today the task was underway.
Other than enjoying the beauty of the sun, working in the yard offers me a great opportunity to be quiet and listen. I listen to nature around me- birds chirping, wind rustling, and leaves crackling. I listen to the cars in the far off distance. But most importantly I listen to God. I let my mind rest, be quiet and try to hear what He wants me to hear.
Today the message, or maybe the question, had to do with Character. With Martin Luther King Day tomorrow, I was reminded of the quote we read last year from his "I Have A Dream" speech.
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."
Daily I try to pour into my kids character making the most of these foundational building opportunities. I read the Bible, biographies, and historical accounts bringing to their attention people who had/have amazing character.
But what is character and what type of character was Martin Luther King referring to? Was he just referring to the "who" they are on the outside or is it something more. My guess is it's something more. A deeply spiritual man like Dr. King had to be speaking to the deeper quality of inner character.
1 Samuel 16:7 - "The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." (NIV)
I looked up character in Webster's Dictionary and found:
"Character: 5) the pattern of behavior or personality found in an individual or group 6. moral strength; self-discipline, fortitude 7. a) reputation b) good reputation"
So, does that mean character is the dominant way/pattern of behavior found in a group? Or is it more importantly moral strength, self-discipline or fortitude that would define a group or individual as having "Character?"
To add to this thought, what is "Moral Strength." Again, I turn to my friend Webster and find:
"Moral: 1. relating to, dealing with, or capable of distinguishing between right and wrong in conduct 2. of, teaching, or in accordance with, the principles of right and wrong 3. good or right conduct of character; sometimes, specif., sexually virtuous 4. designating support, etc. that involves sympathy without action 5. principles, standards, or habits with respect to right or wrong in conduct; ethics; sometimes, specif., standards of sexual behavior."
From the preceding definitions, I would conclude Moral Strength to be standing strong in your ability to distinguish between right and wrong.
The Bible, as our final authority, gives us many examples on how to live a moral life. I'm reminded of verses like:
"Philippians 4:8-9 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me - put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."
"2 Timothy 2:22 Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart."
Like Dr. King, I hope my children are judged by the content of their character and not by what their outer appearance is. Furthermore, I hope our children live lives that are full of Godly character and moral strength. Remember the standard isn't one of this world and it's relative morality, but Jesus's standard.