"Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope."1
Interestingly enough, where I grew up (quite a few years ago now), in our grade school English classes every story we read had a moral, and over the door of every class room was written a motto such as, "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might,"2 that was quoted from the Bible. We were also taught the importance of keeping one's word. In fact, a man's word was his honor. It was a mark of character!
Furthermore, every week during school hours students had to attend a religious instruction class of their choice. One had to have a letter from one's parents if he/she were to be excused from attending.
But where have those values gone today? Cheating in school is the norm for far too many students. Recently we heard on TV how one teacher failed a student whom she caught cheating on her final exam. The cheater's parents were so outraged that this teacher was forced to resign! Teaching at Harvard Business School several years ago, Chuck Colson noted that the students didn't have a clue about ethics. Hence we reap results such as the Enron debacle. And millions, at least in the Western world, are spending millions every year on getting rid of wrinkles and the like because they are much more concerned with their external image and appearance than inner character.
It seems for many that we have forgotten that character counts!
According to Michael Josephson's organization, Character Counts, "The Six Pillars of Character are: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship," to which we could add a seventh, personal honesty.
Don Johnson, author and producer of "Afterglow," wrote, "Financier J. P. Morgan once commented that a man's best collateral is his character. Alfred Armand Montapert said, 'Reputation is what folks think you are. Personality is what you seem to be. Character is what you really are.' House Speaker, Jim Wright, upon his resignation, quoted Horace Greely who stated, 'Fame is a vapor, popularity an accident, riches take wings, those who cheer today may curse tomorrow, only one thing enduresócharacter.' Charles Spurgeon wrote, 'A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you, and were helped by you, will remember you when forget-me-nots are withered. Carve your name on hearts, and not on marble.'
"Someone has said 'character is what you'd do if you knew no one would ever find out.' I like Samuel Smiles words, '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.'"3
Whether we believe it or not, character does countófor time and, if you are a Christian, for eternity!
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to always remember that character counts and help me to so live that my life will always bring glory and praise to Your name. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus's name, amen."
1. Romans 5:3-4 (NIV).
2. Ecclesiastes 9:10.
3. Afterglow, www.afterglow.org