Lent and Character – April 27th, 2014

Lent is over so in our devotional today, I’d like to look at character through the prism of Lent. The Holy Bible says, Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD Psalm 119:1. The following is an illustration to help us with respect to my opening sentence.
While walking down a dark alley on his way to church, a priest was confronted by a gun-toting mugger. As his custom and his current plan was, the thief demanded of the priest to hand over his wallet. As the priest opened his coat and reached for his wallet, the robber saw the white clerical collar and realized whom he was robbing. Immediately he apologized, “Oh father, forget it; just keep your money; I had no idea you were a priest.” Nervous, relieved, and surprised by the would-be mugger’s unexpected act of piety the priest, with palm sweating slowly reached into another pocket, took out some candies and offered one to the robber. “No thank-you,” the thief replied sanctimoniously, “It is Lent and I gave up candies for Lent!”
Lent. Lent is a period of 40 days before Easter. Ash Wednesday (that is when the penitent traditionally had their foreheads marked with ashes) is the first day of Lent in Western Christianity. During this 40-day time period, many who really are religious Christians abstain from certain foods or certain pleasurable activities as a way of remembering the suffering of Jesus Christ. Lent is therefore a period of penitential preparation for Easter.
In the West, many churches encouraged and practiced a 40-day fast (excluding Sundays), imitating Jesus’ period of fasting in the wilderness when He was led there by the Spirit to be tempted of the devil. Read, Matthew 4 or Luke 2.
The mugger in our illustration had given up candy supposedly as his sacrifice for Lent. But then, does his lifestyle of mugging and robbing others reflect his pious “It is Lent and I gave up candies for Lent!”? No! As a matter of fact that conduct rather showed his true character! The reality is that conduct is the best proof of character. His conduct didn’t match his message. Let me challenge myself and you as well by asking, does our conduct match our message?
Character is important and to define it, it is aligning our lives in a way that our behaviours are Christ-like. So then, the Holy Bible is the best source as well as the best indicator of anyone’s character. 1 Peter 2:12 says and maintain good conduct among the non-Christians, so that though they now malign you as wrongdoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God when he appears. And 1 Corinthians 15:33 says, Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.
As you can see, anyone who claims that he/she is godly in character only need to have their integrity and their words measured against the Bible. This mugger’s words can only be proven by consistency in his actions because I have learnt that in life, appearances and words could be deceiving; however, behaviour is the best judge of character even though some are able to camouflage their evil behaviour from many. This applies to all of us so we want to watch our lifestyle.
As I end, let me ask again, does your conduct match your message? After all, character is what you are in the dark; character is what you are when no one is looking; character is what you do in your closet. If we want to be honest, we will agree that change starts when we acknowledge our shortcomings. If you could, what will you do better? But you see, you can only be better and at your best if you allow the Holy Spirit to lead you.
Proposed prayer: Dear Lord, as Your follower, please help me to show my love for You by what I do, not just by what I say. I understand that real, authentic Christian character is formed by my commitment to You so may my devotion to You, because of Your love for me, be revealed in my actions today and always. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Do have a truly wonderful week.    

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