Last Sunday at church, I overheard a conversation between the pastor and two deacons. One of the deacons mentioned that I was an “odd sort of character”, and the pastor silently nodded his head. So, since the pastor has this opinion of me, I thought I should study this, and give this some more attention, and try to improve my character a little bit.
So this week, I went to the library and did a Google search on “Character”. I found some really good ideas, and I’ve listed them here.
A Literature Review on the Subject of Character
Definition of CHARACTER: Read Romans 5
Character is a moral, ethical and spiritual undergirding, that rests on truth, reinforces a life, and resists the temptation to compromise.
What is CHARACTER? Read Genesis 1:26-27
Character belongs to those who possess the image of God – not animals, not wicked men… This is a very unique concept in the Bible, and this virtue is unique to the born-again Christian.
CHARACTER, as contrasted with Reputation
A man’s reputation is largely (but not totally) dependent upon the spoken opinions of others about his performance, reliability, honesty, integrity, charm, social dexterity, or whatever the various speakers may happen to value most. The inherent weakness of relying upon reputation is that one wagging tongue can tear down decades of hard work and discipline, without considering the obstacles which that man has had to overcome. Character, on the other hand, is an inward state of determination which presses forward in the face of constant criticism, and cares not what others may think or say.
Abraham Lincoln on CHARACTER:
“Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.”
Interesting. Now I know what the real thing was before Coca-Cola was invented in 1886.
President Theodore Roosevelt on CHARACTER:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
Hmmm, that’s why Mom always told me to “man up” whenever I forgot to wash the dishes. I think I should start watching boxing and ice hockey.
Chuck Swindoll on CHARACTER:
“Friends and character have much in common. Both help in times of trouble. The difference between friends and character, is that friends speak to you, character speaks for you.”
Oh, how wonderful to know this! Now I can ignore Mom’s nagging, go to my room, play Nintendo, and let my character do all the talking.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe on CHARACTER:
“Talent is achieved in stillness, but character is developed in the torrential crucible of the world.”
One can achieve every kind of virtue in solitude, except character. I guess I’ll have to come out of my room, and go to the church potlucks more often, before I can impress the pastor and the deacons.
Thomas Paine on CHARACTER:
“Character is much easier kept, than recovered.”
That’s good, because I hate doing things just to impress others. It feels so fake.
Aristotle on CHARACTER:
“Those who observe virtue, observe the actions of virtuous men.”
I can attract more attention and become more popular by signaling my virtues.
Look at me! I’m a holy virtue beacon!
John Ruskin on CHARACTER:
“What we think or what we believe is, in the end, of little consequence. The only thing of consequence is what we do.”
I’m so glad to know this. Thank God I can escape those consequences, because I’m not doing anything. I can be satisfied with little consequence instead.
Voltaire on CHARACTER:
“Every man, as to character, is the creature of the age in which he lives. Very few are able to raise themselves above the ideas of their times.”
Voltaire was an atheist. Thank God, I am raised with Christ!
The world’s philosophy about CHARACTER:
The world is full of pain, so you should do anything you can to escape your pain, and build a better life for yourself, even if it means lying about some things, or covering up your actions to make yourself look good in front of other people. In other words, a solid reputation is vastly more important than what has been done to make it solid.
Modern psychologists on CHARACTER:
All instances of pain are a reminder of our first traumatic experience – our child birth! Once we were safe and warm inside our mother’s womb, our food and oxygen were fed to us through a tube. Then we are squeezed and pushed outside our “home”. The bones in our skulls were dislodged in the process. Our warmth, food and oxygen are cut off from us, and we are forced to live in nakedness and supply our own needs. From that moment on, all of life consists of the painful process of becoming more and more autonomous, as our needs, constraints, and responsibilities all grow in proportion to each other. Despite all our efforts to resist this process, we grow old and weak, and then we all die.
Prof. Gilbert Soohoo’s lecture on CHARACTER: Read Hebrews 5:8-9
“The essence of habitual sin is the avoidance of grief through one means or another.”
We need to stop indulging in self-pity, complaining and fighting to end our pain, and start looking forward to it – as both a necessary part of our spiritual growth, and as an unavoidable certainty in our life. Instead of retarding our pain, we should help the process, and learn something from it. With the help of God, we can learn obedience from our suffering, and develop character, just as Christ did.
Satan’s thoughts about CHARACTER:
“Well, I’ll be damned! No matter what kind of cruelty I inflict on these Christians, I cannot make their pain last any longer than 70 years! In fact, all the hatred that I hurl at them, only makes them stronger, and contributes to their glory for all eternity!”
Unfortunately, character is not a permanent possession. It must be maintained through regular exercise!
The Apostle Paul on CHARACTER: Read Romans 5:1-5
“The reason for suffering hardship is to test character, which produces hope. This process is not something we should endure with gritted teeth, one step away from self-pity. We should face our pain with courage, as a challenge to obtain character and hope, just as Jesus Christ did as our example. As followers of Christ, we live a life of obedient suffering, leading to character, hope, eternal life and glory.”
That sounds a lot like being constipated.
Freddie Mercury on CHARACTER:
“We are the CHAMPIONS, my friend! And we’ll keep on fighting, ’till the end.”
He fought the good fight… against AIDS! But he still lost the fight. That must be because God hates gays, just like the pastor said. I’ll make a mental note to myself, not to become gay.
Dr. Rick Grover’s exhortation towards building CHARACTER: Read 1st Peter 1:5-9
“Every impossible task is accomplished by an impossible person who has been crushed!”
“God says, ‘Let the pain happen. Don’t be afraid. Stay in the crucible!'”
Christians actually have a life of hardship. But having a good home and great parenting will put you one notch ahead of everyone else.
What is God doing with you, if you are constantly facing pain, and struggling against God???
HE is probably doing something great! You are an important part of HIS plan!
I am really glad I studied Character. Now that I understand what character is all about, I am sure it has improved my own Character immensely.
[Eds. note: I hope you have realized by now, that this is satire, so please don’t leave any indignant comments.]