We are known to others by our reputation; however, our character is who we truly are. How we live when we are “in the dark” defines our character. It is easy to fool others but impossible to fool God. Many of us spend way too much time refining our reputation and far too little time developing our character. The dictionary defines character as: moral excellence and firmness. How are you doing when it comes to building your character?
Ask yourself this question: “Where do you spend your time, thoughts and energies when no one else is around?” Things like greed, gossip, theft, lust, pornography, adultery, deceit, envy, rivalry and many other forms of sin are often acted out in the dark. They are done outside of the sight of others who would be hurt, offended or shocked by these behaviors. Doing any of these things impugns our character. People keep these hidden behind a much more polished public reputation.
I must admit that I have not always lived up to my reputation. Over the last several years I have made known in my writings, talks, in my retreats and in the note found in the back of the book THE BROKEN DOOR that there were many years in my life when my inner personal character was disguised by my exterior reputation. There was brokenness in my life known only to me. Has this ever been the case for you too? Is it still true today?
God prompted me to bring what was known in the dark only by me into the light of day. With the help of the Holy Spirit, I focused my energies on developing an authentic inner character. Through God’s grace I became transparent about my faults and struggles in life and I sought to be a man of integrity. I wanted others to know the real me. Praise the Lord that I have made giant strides in recent years. Just like in my case, your life too is a continual process of personal assessment and conversion. How are you doing with your character development?
Proverbs 2:13-14 states: “These men turn from the right way to walk down dark paths. They take pleasure in doing wrong, and they enjoy the twisted ways of evil.” Our reputation is often only a facade consisting of just the selected good parts of us that we want others to see. In time the person who we are on the inside seems to always make its way to the outside. The Bible tells us this in Luke 8:17: “For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible, and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light.” We have all seen public figures whose stellar public reputations were destroyed when their true inner character was revealed.
There are many more verses found in the Bible admonishing us to guard against living in darkness, and conversely many verses calling us to a life lived in the light of Christ. Here are just a few of those verses: Matthew 23:25-26, John 1:5, John 3:19-20, 1 John 1:6, Ephesians 5:11, Isaiah 9:2-3, John 8:12
Ephesians 5:8-9 gives us encouragement if we find ourselves needing some character improvements. It states: “For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.”
There is an old saying that goes something like this: None of us are as bad as we perceive ourselves to be and none of us are as good as everyone else perceives us to be. We all have some inner work to do. A person of real character strives to make sure that his or her inner character matches his or her public reputation. Let’s strive to make sure that the person we know ourselves to be on the inside matches up with the person we want to be known as on the outside!
I leave you with this question to ponder: are you really the person others perceive you to be? If there is work to be done…..start today!
Lord please grant us the grace for personal introspection and the strength to act on the needed changes which You reveal to us. Amen.