Embracing Authentic Character
Updated: Jul 11, 2020
“Characters live to be noticed; people with character notice how they live.” I was in college the first time read that quote and it’s stuck with me ever since. For years, whenever someone asked me for my favorite quote, I gave them that one. I scribbled it in notebooks, and I’m pretty sure I included it on whatever pre-Facebook social media profile I had.
I loved it then because it was a reminder of what I’d always been taught growing up: to be a leader, and not a follower. I love it just the same now because it is an ever-present reminder that the way I live -- my character -- isn’t just about me, but it’s about the God I confess. My character is a reflection of Him, what I believe about Him, and what I believe about my relationship with Him. As is yours.
If we’re striving to be Virtuous Women and to uphold Godly standards, then our character should be a reflection of that. Sadly, that’s not always the case. Why? Because, as I heard someone say yesterday, too many of us have become mere fans of Christ rather than followers of Christ. We want to rock the cute Jesus tees and a cross around our neck, but in essence it’s just paraphernalia because we lack relationship – relationship that, if it were in fact authentic, would result in authentic character.
For those of you familiar with college Greek life, you know that it is unacceptable to wear the paraphernalia of a fraternity or sorority of which you are not a member. Wearing letters without having followed the membership process makes you a fan and a fraud. Give it a little time, and soon enough, something about your character will reveal the truth.
As it is in this natural example, so it is with spiritual things. We can claim all day that we’re blessed and highly favored, that God is good and that we’re bombarding Heaven with prayers for all the messed up people in our lives who need Jesus, but if we’re sending up prayers and cussing people out in the same breath, lying to one another and being manipulative and hateful, then we, my dear sisters are just as messed up. We are frauds and need to bombard Heaven with prayers of repentance.
I said earlier that our character is a reflection of God, our Father. As His daughters, we should imitate Him (Ephesians 5:1). There should be a resemblance of Him in what we say and do, and the resemblance should be evident to all who encounter us. When our character is consistent with our confession – that we are followers of Christ, not fans – accusations brought against us become a lot harder to substantiate. But accusations of questionable behavior aren’t as hard to believe when they’re preceded by questionable character.
Our character is also a reflection of what we believe about God and our relationship with Him. As young girls, regardless of whether or not our father was present in our home, what we believed about him influenced our character and who we are today. As a girl who believed her father loved her, I always wanted to make my dad proud. My respect for him kept me from doing a lot of things that I knew would bring him shame and reflect poorly on him. On the flip side of that, had I never had a relationship with my dad, and had he never shown me love, I might not have cared at all about how my actions reflected on him.
Our Father loves us with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3), and if we believe that, we must also believe that when we live contrary to His word, it hurts him and gives the perception that a relationship with Him is of no real value to us. Adding to that, we must also believe that when it comes to the Father’s expectations, He’s not for the foolishness.
At the end of the day, our character is all we have. If it’s not authentic, if it doesn’t match up with the salvation that we confess, if it doesn’t mirror the God whom we say we know and love, then we cannot call ourselves followers. We cannot expect to be called Virtuous Women, and we cannot expect to inspire other women to be great in Him. That’s a heavy burden to carry. That’s a burden I will not carry. Character check in progress.