by Brittney Chan
In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.
Titus 2: 7-8
Apostle Paul is one of my favorite men in the Bible; partly because his story is one of true redemption and triumph. There is so much to learn by studying his life and writings, and here lately, I’ve been looking specifically at his Damascus road experience. A lot of emphasis is normally given to the complete transformation in his life after he encountered Jesus Christ. It seems like this change was almost instantaneous, but I’ve noticed a significant pattern in the days following and I think it’s worth mentioning. Accompany me on this journey into Damascus...
After Paul’s salvation, he was led into the city by the men he had been traveling with. The Biblical account of this story tells us that Paul was unable to see for three days; neither did he eat or drink anything. Meanwhile, God was speaking through a vision to a man named Ananias and told him to go take care of Paul. Ananias knew of who Paul was and fearfully questioned what he had been instructed to do.
Fast forward a few days to when Paul’s health was restored and he was baptized with the Holy Ghost. He began preaching to the Christians in Damascus and they too had a difficult time receiving him because of everything they’d heard about him.
When his life was in danger, Paul fled the city and returned to Jerusalem where he faced similar problems. People were nervous around him. They knew of him as a man with a direct connection to the persecution of a young Christian church. He was wicked and mean. He was hateful and destructive. He was their enemy, right? All three of these confrontations have one thing in common: Even though God had done a miraculous thing in Paul’s deliverance, people had a hard time trusting that his character had changed at all.
And not much is different in our world today. People are quicker to respond based on what they know of your character than on what you actually do or say in the moment. Your character stands out. It declares things your mouth never will and it goes ahead of you to meet strangers before you ever get the chance to. The reputation you make for yourself speaks volumes of who you want the world to think you are. And yes; you make your character. Whether it’s intentional or not, you control who and what you allow to influence your life. With that in mind, I hope we can agree that it’s important to purposely develop a Christian character. This is one thing we must be deliberate in.
Proverbs 13 speaks of at least three areas where a person’s character can be seen. It’s reflected in your coachability, your conversation and the company you keep.
Verse 1 says, “A wise son heareth his father’s instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke.” A Christian should be meek, humble and able to receive constructive criticism from the people they trust and respect. A haughty spirit in someone who claims to be a woman or man of God is probably the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen.
Be teachable. Be able to identify wisdom when it comes to you and apply it to your life accordingly.
There are countless scriptures that instruct the older and wiser to impart understanding to the young and naive. Seek godly counsel before you make a decision on that new job, that marriage or that college. Having a humble spirit will be sure to save you from heartache in the long run.
Do y’all remember singing the kid’s song, “Oh, be careful little mouth what you say. Oh, be careful little mouth what you say! For the Father up above is looking down with love. Oh, be careful little mouth what you say?” I think somewhere along the way, we tend to forget how destructive our mouths can be. We’re careless with the words we throw around; I’m guilty of it, too! But Proverbs 13:3 tells us, “He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.”
Maturity will teach us that in some situations, it’s better to be quiet than to speak at all.
James wrote that the words you say have the power to bring life or death to those that hear them. Christians with godly character will not be involved in tearing others apart. I’ve been on the receiving end of bad murmuring and I’m sure you have, too. It doesn’t feel good. So instead of spreading that kind of negativity and killing someone else’s ambitions, choose to bring life with the things you have to say.
I can hear the voice of my middle school principal, Mr. Anthony Graham, who would conclude his morning announcements with this reminder: “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” He believed in the truth that the company you decide to keep will directly influence the person you become. Verse 20 in Proverbs 13 says it this way: “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” This is something I still have to remind myself and I’m not really sure if there’s an age when you get to stop being aware of this lesson. I’ve learned that people who tend to judge, complain or gossip all the time never have a good effect on me and they don’t help me in becoming a better version of myself.
Decide with me today to be purposeful in how you act and the things you say. If you’ve spent more time ruining your reputation than building it up, you can’t be surprised when others question your character. Sometimes you have to refrain from participating in an activity or from saying something - not because it’s sinful, but because you’re aware of how it’ll impact your reputation. As godly women, who are together on this journey of Pursuing Virtue, let’s choose to be mindful of how we are representing our Lord and King!
Thank You for graciously bringing us into Your family. Give us the willingness we need to have a teachable spirit, the power to sanctify both our mouths and minds and the wisdom to surround ourselves with company that glorifies You.
In Jesus’ Name,