Christian Author: Nancy W. Boyer

Achieving Character and Hope One Step at a Time

When we talk about character traits that we hope for in ourselves or in our children, one does not often hear the word  character  mentioned.  Perhaps this is because character is a somewhat elusive achievement. In fact, “Character” has many meanings. A few of these are:

  • In computers:   any symbol, as a number, letter, punctuation mark, etc., that represents data 
  •  one of a set of basic symbols that singly or in a series of two or more represents data and, when encoded, is usable in a computer.
  • In printing …  a symbol as used in a writing system, as a letter of the alphabet.
  • In literature or the theater… the character  or role  representing a personality type (Sometimes we say a person is out of character)

The Moral and Ethical Uses of the word  Character

  • A moral or ethical quality   (person of fine, honorable character)
  • Qualities of courage, integrity   (It takes character to face up to the challenge)
  • A reputation   ( as a stain on one’s character)
  • Behavior   ( as a suspicious character or an unusual character)
  •  An odd, eccentric or unusual person  ( He is quite the character)

None of the above achieves character, but are simply a definition of a usage of the word.   When it comes to the Moral and Ethical uses of the word character, it becomes a bit  elusive, whether good or bad?   Can character be changed?    Is to have worthy character or reputation something to be sought after in a life time?  Does it matter?

I find the origin of the word interesting:   Greek…. charaktḗr…a  graving tool’
  What is a graving tool?  

Graving Tools

A graver is any basic chisel-like tool used for engraving. The oldest of engraving tools, the chisel has been used for millenia. The ancient engraver would tap the back of the chisel with a mallet or hammer, causing the chisel to dig into the engraving material.

Is it possible that everything we allow into our character is like an engraving tool…chiseling away or stamping into our very souls who we are becoming?

 It is quite complex as character is also individuality.  It is personality which makes up the sum of the characteristics possessed by a person.   It refers to ethical standards, moral qualities, and principles of a person.  We often say a person has a sterling character. 

We are differentiated from others by our individuality.  From the day we are born, we are acquiring these differences from one another.   However, personality is greatly different from character. Thomas Paine once said ” Reputation  is what men and women think of us, but character is what God and angels know of us.”

   Character is the soul of the matter.   Perhaps character is also  made up of the experiences we have encountered in life.   For instance,  I read  this in the Holy Scriptures ( Romans 5):

“Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand…knowing that suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character, and character produces hope and hope does not disappoint us……because   God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”

According to this reading, whatever we may be going through in life, we should, with God’s help, stay the course of endurance.  Through this endurance, we then begin to develop the character that God wants in us…and perhaps others may see in us.  I do not think that most admired people are aware of the character that they possess.  It is simply a part of them.   The beauty in the endurance is that it produces something positive….hope.   All of us need hope.  The ultimate promise is that the hope we are given will not disappoint us.     

SUFFERING-ENDURANCE-CHARACTER-HOPE THAT WILL NOT DISAPPOINT

The world needs men and women. . .
  •   who cannot be bought; whose word is their bond;
  • who put character above wealth;  who are larger than their vocations;
  • who do not hesitate to take risks; who will be as honest in small affairs as in greater; who will make no compromise with wrong;
  • whose ambitions are not confined to their own selfish desires;
  • who are true to their friends through good and bad, in adversity as well as in prosperity; who are not ashamed or afraid to stand for truth  when it is unpopular.   (source unknown)
 
You may say that you are not a great Apostle of Christ or a Mother Theresa who had great character and purpose in life.   Character  is like  cream in the milk.  It rises to the top.  These persons did not set out to be known for their character.  They set out to be God’s servant and to do His will in their lives just one step at a time…and toward one person at a time.   It is the character development that only God can give as we surrender our lives to Him.   
 

 

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