Character Matters

by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

Text: Romans 5:1-5


I.         Suppose you needed to hire someone for a job. What would you look for?

            A.        You probably need someone with the skills to do the job, but what other things would you look for? Given several candidates with equivalent skills, what would set one person out above another?

            B.        Would character make a difference? Would you hire a compulsive liar, a drunk, a drug user, a thief, or someone who is lazy?

            C.        Suppose you were looking for a job. Would you consider the character of the company and the character of the employees of that company when you consider working for that company?

            D.        What about picking a doctor, or a mechanic, or someone we are voting for an office in government?

II.        The concept of character is found in several biblical words

            A.        Virtue - Greek: arete - Moral excellence

                        1.         Praise, glory - Hebrew: salsillah

                        2.         It refers to things worthy to be praised

                        3.         God calls us by His glory and virtue - II Peter 1:3

                        4.         Which leads us to imitate Him - II Peter 1:4-5

            B.        Integrity - Greek: adiaphthoria - Unable to be corrupted

                        1.         Hebrew: tom - Moral completeness, uprightness, innocence

                        2.         Hebrew: tummah - Innocence

                        3.         Psalm 26:1 - David walked in his integrity and therefore would not slip.

                        4.         Job’s wife wanted her husband to give up his integrity - Job 2:9

            C.        Proven character - Greek: dokime - Tested trustworthiness

                        1.         Romans 5:1-5

            D.        Your reputation is what people think you are; your character is what God knows you are

                        1.         “Our character is what we do when we think no one is looking.” [Karl Bismark]

                        2.         “Character, then, is what we are when no one sees but God” [Os Guiness]

III.       Our core values

            A.        It starts from within.

                        1.         “Sow a thought, and you reap an act;/ Sow an act, and you reap a habit;/ Sow a habit, and you reap a character;/ Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.” [Charles Reader]

                        2.         This is Jesus’ point, who you are starts with what you think - Mark 7:14-23

            B.        Philippians 4:8 - Think on these things

            C.        How we think influences our behavior - Proverbs 4:23-27

                        1.         Sadly Satan understands this all too well

                        2.         It is not accidental that movies have “chance” cursing or the “obligatory” sex scene

                        3.         Why is it that music videos feature scantily clad singers?

                        4.         On the other side, why do so many intellectuals become upset about prayers and the mention of God in schools?

                        5.         People understand that to mold the behavior of individuals, you first influence the way they think.

            D.        That is why it is important to think on proper things - Philippians 2:5

            E.        Set your affections on things above - Colossians 3:1-4

IV.      Consistency in application

            A.        A person who lies sometimes, doesn’t have an honest character, even if he believes lying is wrong.

            B.        Character results from the habits of the heart. After speaking of the things we should meditate upon, Paul tells us to put them into practice - Philippians 4:9

            C.        It is not just knowing what is the right thing to do, it is doing it. It is doing it continually - James 1:25

            D.        For example, I have a habit of going to church. It is more that just a habit, but it is still something I habitually do.

                        1.         Habits are things you do without giving it much thought.

                        2.         I don’t decide each Sunday whether I’m going to church. That decision was made long ago. I go.

                                    a.         I arrange my travels around being somewhere to attend services – not just on Sundays but midweek services as well.

                        3.         Some, unfortunately, have a habit of missing - Hebrews 10:24-25

            E.        It is our habits which form our character

V.        Sacrificing for our convictions

            A.        Paul speaks of what he endured - II Corinthians 11:23-30

            B.        Why? Why didn’t he give up? - II Corinthians 4:16-18

            C.        Paul saw that there was value in his beliefs. Such a value that suffering to hang on to those values didn’t mean much.

            D.        Paul gave up a lot to be a Christian - Philippians 3:7-14

VI.      “You can’t buy courage and decency, you can’t rent a strong moral sense.” [Peggy Noonan]

            A.        Young people, who are you looking to marry?

                        1.         Would you want someone rich, popular, beautiful or handsome?

                        2.         But what about his or her character?

                        3.         Beauty fades, fame is fickle, and wealth has wings, but character endures.

                        4.         Perhaps you will learn a lesson from Solomon - Proverbs 11:22

                        5.         Or consider - Proverbs 31:10, 30

            B.        Are you a person of character?

                        1.         Wishy-washy people are a dime a dozen.

                        2.         What we need are people of conviction.

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