Character observed

The true journey in life is not necessarily what is achieved on the outside but rather what is achieved inside.

election 2016Are you watching the presidential election parade?  No matter what party you identify with there are a wide range of participants trying to position themselves to the American people why they should be the best candidate to lead this country.  We and the media (left and right) focus on some of the main character traits and flaws of each candidate.  It is through the lens of their trait or flaw that evaluate them and filter what they say.

road to characterI am reading the book “Road to Character” by David Brooks.  I am stuck in the chapter on humility. He writes “The humble person is soothing and gracious, while the self-promoting person is fragile and jarring.  Humility is freedom from the need to prove you are superior all the time, but egotism is a ravenous hunger in a small space – self-concerned, competitive and distinction-hungry.”

Today people are told they are all special and on a journey in life to achieve something great. So kids begin to go through life expecting or demanding special treatment not because of their abilities but because they are special.  There is a demand or expectation of success and purpose placed in our lives but the true nature of the person remains broken.

The true journey in life is not necessarily what is achieved on the outside but rather what is achieved inside. 

While the outward life of success and achievement is important the greater struggle is the battle of our inner person. David says “Truly humble people are engaged in the effort to magnify what is best in themselves and defeat what is worst, to become strong in the weak places.”

One of my favorite scriptures touches in this area.  It is James 3:13-1613 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.”  Verse 15 describes three traits of man’s wisdom.  I like the King James version which says “This wisdom descended not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.”

My take on these three areas of man’s wisdom are as follows. Earthly – follow the crowd. See what society determines as acceptable and join that crowd.  Justify your actions compared to society.  Sensual – allow your emotions and desires to determine your choices.

Rage without reason seems to be the norm today


rage 1

Many people suffer because of choices made in an emotional moment. Devilish – you always have the devils influence to temp you into a bad choice.

James 3:17-18 speak about the cure of poor wisdom and selfish behavior.  Finding a Godly wisdom that focuses on our inward person rather than the outward performance. “17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”

David writes concerning selfish people. “The desire to use other people as a means to get things for yourself.  It also leads to pride, the desire to see yourself as superior to everyone else. People who are humble are aware that we are all built from “crooked timber” from Immanuel Kant’s famous line “Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made.”

Whoever you follow in the coming elections you will see traits that may offend you.  Let us also look inward to make sure we are fighting against similar traits and imperfections.  This is not a battle you can win alone.  It takes a friend who will hold you accountable.  It takes a relationship with Christ who will help revel the “crooked timber” in your life.  Follow God’s wisdom in His word to better equip your inner self.

At the end of your life the great reward will not be acceptance and applaud from the world but rather a “well done good and faithful servant” spoken from God.  Fight the good fight inwardly and “God please help this country.”

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