Tag Archives: Christian character

How’s Your Social Media Image?

While at a social media site a few days ago, I noticed a post by a well-known worship songwriter. In it, he used profanity. It disappointed me at the time. I marveled at the disconnect between writing songs which glorify the Lord and using language which was so far from how Jesus would speak.

This is not by any means the first time I have seen such language coming from people in ministry. It seems to go on quite a bit, in fact. Maybe in some circles it is considered “hip.” However, I doubt if it is hip in the Lord’s eyes.

I wonder how many of us realize that we are constantly exposing the true condition of our hearts via social media. The things we personally say, “like,” and repost there clearly reveal to everyone the depth of our intimacy with Jesus.

Do we ever stop to consider who might be scrutinizing our witness of Him? Are we perhaps causing other believers to stumble through what they see us promoting? Does it make someone think, “It must be OK, if he’s doing it”? (Or maybe they just struggle with judging us, based on what they see.) How about the nonbelievers’ reaction? Do they say to themselves, “I see that Christians are no different than the rest of us. Why should I even consider becoming one?” Who are we, in our thoughtlessness,  disappointing or grieving?

The apostle Paul spoke on these matters two thousand years ago. He said, “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20). Ambassadors act and speak on behalf of the higher authority who sent them. When we don’t do well at accurately representing our Savior, we hurt His cause, even to the point of driving others away from Him.

The Bible gives us guidelines for how believers are to speak:

Do not let any corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth. Instead, speak what is good, for the purpose of building up, so that it may minister grace to those who hear it. — Ephesians 4:29

Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. — Ephesians 5:4 (ESV)

If anyone speaks, he should do it as one who speaks the very words of God, … that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ …. — 1 Peter 4:11

My purpose is not to suggest that we all point the finger at those who use vulgar language or do anything else inconsistent with Christ. Rather, it is about each of us taking an honest look at our own heart. May we not fall into the trap of smugly accusing our brothers and sisters. Romans 14:4 warns against that: “Who are you to judge another man’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Yes, he shall be held up, for God is able to make him stand.” With those we know well, perhaps the answer is to talk with them about how their speech affects us. For the rest, we can always pray for them when we see something amiss. Prayer changes people; judging them does not.

When I come before the Lord in the day described in 1 Corinthians 3:12-15, I want to have as little wood, hay, and stubble showing up as possible. I have no desire to provide the materials for the mother of all bonfires! I want to have my actions, words, and thoughts increasingly line up with what Jesus would do, say, and think. The route to doing that is keeping close to Him through prayer and the Word, so that I become more and more like my best Friend.

We have been promised a future “inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, which will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4). Speaking of that day when Jesus appears for His own, 1 John 3:3 sums up how we should conduct ourselves in the meantime: “And every man who has this hope in Him purifies himself, even as He is pure.”

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Lord Jesus, may we endeavor to be the best ambassadors for You that we can be. Help us to guard our words and actions carefully, so that we might elevate all those who observe us into a higher attraction toward You.

River Life: Entering into the Character of Jesus

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The Truth About Character Building

Volume1So, I write character building resources for children and adults, for parents to help their children grow in godliness, for churches to instruct new believers in becoming Christlike, for individuals hungry for holiness.  Will studying character building books make you a model Christian?  Will they solve your integrity issues?  Here’s the truth: NO.

Christlike character is not something that can be gained from a book.  It is not something you can discipline yourself into achieving.  If we are not careful, we can become legalistic about good character in ourselves and in others.  You see, godly character cannot be applied from the outside-in.  It starts in the heart and spreads outward.

Volume2As I see it, Bible-based character building resources are meant to be tools to make us aware of Who God is and to spark a desire to be like Him as we see Him for Who He is.  They provide a framework, a guideline, to get us to think about His purity, to drive us to gaze at Him, so that as we gaze, we are transformed into His image.  They are not self-help materials that promise, “Do it this way and you will be perfect.”  They are not a set of rules.  They are not the answer.

Jesus is the answer.  True godly character comes from being with Him, in His Presence, spending time in love relationship with Him.  As we do that, Holy Spirit, Who dwells inside of all believers, begins to transform us into the image of Jesus.  He starts to nudge about this and that thing in our lives that He wants to make better.  Most of the time, when we are so close to Him, we don’t even notice the transformation taking place in us until after the fact.

RIver Life TeacherWhen I was first baptized in the Holy Spirit, I had a terrible temper.  But that melted away, because He was living in and through me, until one day, I discovered with shock, “I haven’t had a temper tantrum in the last six months! How or when did that happen?”  Today, it would be a totally foreign thing to me to blow up in anger.  Why?  He just did that in me.  It didn’t come by me striving for it.  Sure, there are times we must consciously exercise discipline over things we see in our lives that need to be different, but by and large, it is His transforming work from the inside-out that makes a genuine change.  We just cooperate with Him by staying attuned to Him and yielding ourselves — kind of like letting Him lead in the dance while we follow.

When we get hold of the truth of just letting Him re-form us, rather than striving to do it to ourselves (or to our children), we have freedom and joy in our Christian life.

So, how do you really come into having good character, excellent integrity?  Hunger after Jesus.  Listen for His whispers.  When He speaks, yield to Him.  He’ll get you where you need to be.  You are His workmanship, not your own. 

Full Gospel Family Publications