Saturday, October 1, 2016

Lesson from a Lesson: Character Traits

Daily Gratitude Year 4-Day 275: Today, I am grateful for a "lesson from a lesson" in character traits. 

This image is from "the teacher next door". It is not at all in the direction I started this morning, but here we are. 

It led me to reflect on character traits. Look at the outside. Look at the inside. 

I am a firm believer that character counts.  It is who you are in the dark, with no one watching and only God for accountability.  Frankly, that last part... only God watching... is what drives me to get up and try to do better on a daily basis. 

I hate disappointing others... but I do.  Self reflection and owning a mirror means owning that I come face to face with the many ways I miss the mark. Sin is a struggle in this world, and it is personal... as long as we still live here. Yet, nothing compares to knowing God is saddened, displeased or that Jesus endured each pounding of the hammer into giant nail...  as he paid the price of my sin. My hand may as well have held the hammer. An internal character check keeps us close to the foot of the cross. At least, for me it does. 

We all fail. He knows it and still loves us. We are a sum of who we are, not just today's success, tomorrow's trials or specific struggles. 

One of the sweetest verses I know is:

We have an advocate before the father.  1 John 2:1 (ESV)

When we blow it, Jesus pleads our case. Justice and mercy collide. It reminds us to attempt to walk humbly, covered in grace and acknowledging we are still far from perfection... but blanketed in His love. He is our defense attorney and our shepherd.

We are all characters! His creative whimsy designed each one uniquely... even twins. No two are exactly the same. Society and culture look at the outside first. Sometimes, they never look beyond the surface.  I am warmed by this youthful language arts lesson that teaches that characters must be examined on the "inside", too. Stopping at the surface is shallow and dull. There can be no depth of character or deep relationships if we can't get past the surface. 

Who are we on the inside? How do we teach our children to assess character beauty that lasts far beyond youthful skin.  Can we teach our little girls that real beauty must come from within. Real beauty can shine past surface imperfections. Can we teach our young men to look beyond the surface to seek a girl with more. More patience. More love. More tenacity. More joy. More humility. More kindness. 

Can we see our fellow humans with "God googles" and love them beyond surface differences?  If we are fortunate - they will take on the same Christ-like compassion when viewing our faults and imperfections. That is the kind of vision that calms fears and invites peace. 

Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice. -Isaiah 41:10 (AMPC)

This is from the Amplified Bible, Classic Translation. It seemed to speak to my soul with just right tone for this season of fear driven behaviors all around us. When fear and faith do battle... who wins? I just watched a brief but fun video titled "Stop scaring the children" from Andy Stanley. It is short but poignant. 

Andy addresses those of us with a few more years (45+ years) under our belt need to be reminded that God is ultimately going to win and our next president will simply become a part of His unfolding plan. Our young people needed to be reminded that it was mostly young people who carried the life changing gospel when they discovered a risen Savior. Yes!  Young people. With their wild exuberance, energy and passion.  We need to build them up, guide and encourage. Do not put out their fire!  

"The humble shall see it and be glad; you who seek God, inquiring for and requiring Him [as your first need], let your hearts revive and live!" -Psalm 69:32 (AMPC)

We can let our hearts revive and live. His breath is not a fear breath... but a father's gentle, protective kiss of comfort and calm. We are adopted... chosen... and redeemed. It cost him everything... and costs us nothing. Crazy love! Contagious love!

"For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” " -Romans 8:15 (ESV)

What character traits... of the internal kind ... do we exhibit?  This video has haunted me and challenged me. Please watch it from beginning to end. Watch it when the political and social chaos threatens your spirit. Watch it knowing that even Starbucks had to notice when "crazy love" wins.

This video leaves me breathless. We are back at the heart of the gospels. Jesus when asked what was most important to the Father. His response - "Love Him with all you've got to give." and then, "Love your neighbors (all of them)." 

"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love." -1 John 4:18 

Today, I am grateful for a "lesson from a lesson" in character traits. 

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