Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Truth and Good Character

Chuckle: New bride: "I fixed your favorite dessert for you tonight -- coconut pudding. Wait until you see it." New groom: "Wow! That's great! But what's that big lump in the middle?" New bride: "That's the coconut."
Quote: "Trust the past to God's mercy, the present to God's love, and the future to God's providence." --St. Augustine

"Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who speaks the truth from his heart and who has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman, who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the Lord, who keeps his oath (word) even when it hurts" (Psalm 15:1-4 NIV).
In other words, God looks favorably upon those of good character. The dictionary defines character this way: "The total of things that a person does, feels, and thinks by which he is judged as being good or bad, strong or weak, etc." God wants people of good character that He has shaped by His Word, faith in Jesus Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit. One Greek word for truth means dependability, truthfulness, trustworthiness, and uprightness of character. All these are traits God looks for in a Godly person. Honesty is a special trait indeed.
Dr. Madison Saratt, who taught mathematics at Vanderbilt University for many years, before giving a test would admonish his class something like this: "Today I am giving two examinations; one in trigonometry and the other in honesty. I hope you will pass them both. If you must fail one, fail trigonometry. There are many good people in the world who can't pass trig, but there are no good people in the world who cannot pass the examination of honesty."
Good character is much better than an impressive oath. You can swear by most anything you choose that what you say is true, but without good character, the oath will be meaningless. And with good character, swearing oaths is not only unnecessary, but sinful according to James 5:12 NIV: "Above all, my brothers, do not swear -- not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your 'Yes' be yes, and your 'No," no, or you will be condemned." Jesus used similar words in Matthew 5:37: "Simply let your 'Yes' be 'yes,' and your 'No' be 'no'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one."
Good character includes many positive traits. Perhaps the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22 sums up the kind of character God wants us to have: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." In light of God's Word through James, I think we could add truthfulness to this list of fruit of the Spirit. When you say "Yes" to your friend, your co-worker, your classmate, your fellow church members, or to your Lord, does it really mean "Yes." Likewise, when you say "No," are you as good as your word? Are you a truthful person? Are you a person of good character?
Love, Jerry & Dotse


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