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By What Standard?

May I ask you a question?

Is character important to you? Think about your character for a moment. Most people when asked to consider the importance of character agree that everyone should have a good character. And why shouldn’t everyone to have character. Everything benefits from it. However if you aren’t on the list, there isn’t much point in preaching character to others. Unless you consider character important in your life, then you can’t demand it of others.

For example, suppose you like to “fudge” your integrity. Every now and then, you take home a few items from work. You justify your actions by saying that your employer makes good profits and won’t miss the small items you take from his shop. In your mind you are not stealing from your employer, just helping yourself to small items of insignificance.

Then one day your son takes $10 from your wallet without your permission. When you discover what he has done, you call him to account for his actions. He tells you it’s no big deal. He tells you that he has seen the items you bring home from the shop and listens to you justify your actions. Then he says, “Dad if you can take things from your job, then why can’t I take money from you without asking?”

This reality hit me hard one day. I’ve always expected others to be honest and upright towards me, but my integrity towards others was relative at best. No, I didn’t cheat or steal from my fellowman, but I did justify “fudging” once and a while. I could justify leaving out some taxable income because I resented the IRS. I thought nothing about taking a few items from my employer from time to time. After all he could afford the losses. I could always justify what I did, but I was never willing to admit that I was stealing. Then one day, like I said, it hit me. What if I owned a business and I had several employees taking home company property at will. I would feel violated. And rightly so because I would be the one taking the loss. I began to see my actions as contrary to Biblical ethics, and finally I admitted to myself that I was wrong. That’s when I changed my behavior.

Remember the name Ken Lay? He was the Enron guy charged with 11 counts of fraud and conspiracy. We hear the name and think—what a low life. Greed controlled him. But stop and think for a minute. Ken Lay didn’t wake up one day and decide to commit fraud and conspiracy on a grand scale of billions. He probably started out cheating in small ways that could easily be justified in his own mind. Without coming clean and denouncing his greed, he kept on until it got out of control and slammed him.

Did you know that when the Great Wall of China was completed, it was breached three times. That’s right. No, the enemy didn’t break through by breaking down part of the wall. The enemy didn’t go over the wall. The enemy came right through its gates three times. How did this happen? They bribed the gate keepers. The Great Wall of China—a man made structure visible from outer space—was compromised by the gate keeper’s lack of integrity. Character is important, very important.

Jesus said that His disciples would know other disciples by the fruit they produced. You may call an apple tree a peach tree all day long, but there is no argument when the apple tree’s fruit is visible in season. Someone may claim Christianity by his words, but his character tells all. For a man to merely speak like a Christian is not true Christianity. His character will identify him for what he is.

Whatever sacrifices you make to strengthen your character not only honors God but honors you too. You can’t let the low moral standards of the world influence you to act likewise. You must lift high the banner of godly living in the midst of worldliness. You must hold yourself to a higher standard. The standard is higher than the stars above you. The standard is the Son of God, and He is seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven. Ask Him to reflect His character in you.

Keep the faith. And stay the course.

Terry Dashner.

Faith Fellowship Church
PO Box 1586
Broken Arrow, OK 74013

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Pastors a small church in Broken Arrow, OK. Writes daily devotions for his congregation. Also Writes articles that underscore the faith of America's founding fathers.

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