Bill Clinton said of Mother Theresa “It’s tough to argue with someone who has lived so well”
I guess what Bill Clinton was referring to that Mother Theresa modelled Godly character in the place she was called to be in – whether speaking to world leaders or those society would reject. Her character shone through and spoke more eloquently than her words ever could.
Here's the video we watched together as part of the talk:
I think there is a difference between our personality and our character – I would like to propose that our personality is something that is generally pretty fixed whereas character is something we can develop.
Myers Briggs has created an industry about understanding our personalities – not with the intention of changing them but understanding why we respond to situations in the way we do.
After answering a series of questions you understand the type of personality you are – there is not one that is better than the other it is simply the way you are wired – you may respond differently knowing your personality tendencies but they don’t fundamentally change.
Character on the other hand is something that we develop over time – it is something we cultivate I would suggest. Something that grows like fruit of the Spirit as defined in Galatians 5.
In writing to the church in Galatia, Paul is writing to a church that believed that what Jesus did was important but somehow it wasn’t enough – it was Jesus plus the law – but Paul is saying Jesus was and is sufficient and complete.
Paul argues that the church were in danger of losing the freedom that Jesus has won and being enslaved to the law. He defines a better way of living within that freedom.
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” (Galatians 5)
Paul then writes about how as followers of Jesus we are to live differently – the vices he lists (which are by no means exhaustive) are characterised by the desire to place ourselves at the centre of everything – this desire to focus on what I want – how we manipulate situations to our own ends. (Galatians 5v19-21)
Paul next lists the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)– which is a way of being that is counter cultural and different. These values are no more different to the societal norm today than they were when they were written. So much of our society is the winner takes all and what’s in it for me approach, but the fruit of the spirit is a call to do and live differently.
Life in the spirit is distinct and challenging to our culture.
Often, we think that we are no different to others around us – we live as we do – we don’t especially try to be all the fruit, but by simply allowing ourselves to be shaped and formed by the spirit we are different. It maybe how we interact with the person in the shop, or how we respond behind the wheel in our cars, or the way we make sure we put others first in school. How we are matters – our character matters and speaks more eloquently of our faith than we could hope. It is no good having all the words if our character speaks of something else!
Our character is defined by what we do when no one else is looking – this doesn’t mean we need to act as though we are always being watched, but we should act out of the life that is shaped by abiding in the spirit.
By modelling Godly character, we have an impact on our frontline – in the places we find ourselves representing Jesus – let us pray for one another that we may exhibit the fruit of the spirit in the places we have been called to.