Monday, January 06, 2014
Today’s Topic: Character
Today’s Text: Romans 5:3-5 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Recently I was challenged in a leadership blog I read to choose one word to describe my goals for the New Year. That one word would encompass and simplify all of the traditional resolutions I would normally make. Well, I have chosen my word – CHARACTER.
I thought about a lot of different words, but one event that happened in my life before Christmas has remained embossed in my mind for over three weeks now. I have been waiting to write about it, but was delayed until the Holy Spirit made the applications to my life first. I’m finally ready.
I was driving into town early one morning and pulled up to the corner of Highway 93 and Golf Road intending to turn left. I planned ahead and knew that I wanted to stop and see my son at Great Harvest Bread, so I was in the right hand left turn lane. (In case that doesn’t make sense to you, it is a double left turn lane at that intersection.) That way I could turn right at the first corner on Golf Road.
Next to me in the left hand left turn lane was another car but I did not notice the age or gender of the driver, and it doesn’t matter, because what was about to happen applies to all of us. The left turn arrow turned green, and we both proceeded around the corner. I moved straight ahead until I could turn perpendicularly to the left, thus giving the second car plenty of room to do the same, just like they teach in driver’s training.
Suddenly I noticed that the second car had no desire to conform to proper driving technique. It was already around the corner and two car lengths ahead of me because it had made a straight diagonal cut across the intersection and pulled in front of me into my lane. In the process, the car had crossed two empty lanes of opposing traffic. Because it was early enough in the day those lanes were empty, but if that car had done that thirty minutes later during the beginning of rush hour it would have collided with other vehicles in those lanes.
The first words out of my mouth were, “Wow! He really cut that corner!” Instantly my heart was cut as the Holy Spirit spoke to me and asked, “How many corners do you cut every day?”
My mind searched for a self-justifying response. “I’m sure that if there had been cars in those traffic lanes the driver of the car next to me would have swung out wider to make the turn,” I thought, “just like I do what is right when I need to”.
“Exactly my point,” said the Holy Spirit. “You see, character never cuts corners.”
So now you know why I have chosen the word CHARACTER for the New Year. I want to avoid and eliminate all corner-cutting in my life. There are no shortcuts to holiness. Every shortcut is a selfish attempt to immediately gratify a personal need. Any and all compromise proves the lack of character. Corner-cutting is motivated by a belief that we deserve an advantage, which is pride, which is absolutely contrary to Christ’s character.
So as my first step in acknowledging Christ’s character in me, I refuse to cut corners. I will not look for shortcuts in my personal life, in my relationships, and in my ministry. I will not look to cut corners to avoid the traffic of trials in my life, but instead will stay in the lane God has designed for me. That way I will learn endurance, which leads to character, which produces hope that will not disappoint me.
Cutting corners provides nothing more than momentary satisfaction leading to a need for further gratification. Character brings lasting hope that satisfies eternally through the abiding love of God poured into our hearts through the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Character NEVER cuts corners!