Godly Character

If the links don’t work for you, here is Chris’s video presentation Jusus and the Centurion, Our God is a Great Big God and Do It Again.

Todays reading is Colossians 3:12-17Open Link in New Window

Here is today’s reflection by Gaby.

Hello I am Gaby Doherty your squeaky new curate. Hopefully less squeaky as the sermon continues. I am speaking about Godly character today as part of our Fruitfulness on the Frontline series. Last week Ian challenged us to consider what our frontline actually is. Two weeks ago I would have struggled with that question. I don’t think I had one side, I was more like an octagon with lots of sides facing out and where that is not a problem because our lives are often multi sided, for the purpose of this series I had to pick one frontline.

What is your frontline?

If you don’t know the answer to this then you need to work this out quite quickly. Why don’t you stop for a moment and ask God to reveal your frontline to you.

Please do come back though when you’ve decided or I’ll be in trouble with Ian for pushing people away in my first sermon … probably doesn’t look good on my ratings … although as we’ll discuss later Godly character doesn’t care about ratings, godly character would care more about the individual and the importance of you finding your frontline.

So now you have your frontline. For a long time my frontline has been summarised by cleaning the toilet. I was at home and even though I knew I had amazing gifts to share, fabulous sermons in me to preach, I was at home looking after children, tidying the house and cleaning the toilet … although Sean would probably say I didn’t do much of that, you see cleaning always used to make me angry and ferocious. This was probably because I had bad character and thought I was too good to scrub the loo and I was called by God for better things. God has clearly done some work in me since then, though because it no longer makes me angry. Maybe that’s why my frontline was able to change to full time ministry because I proved that I wasn’t above scrubbing the lav.

In the Bible, Godly character is the thing we know about people. We don’t know much about their personalities but we do know about their generosity, courage, faith, perseverance, selflessness etc.

In our passage we are instructed what we should do, “Put on” suggests an element of choice doesn’t it? So put on a:

  • Compassionate heart
  • Kindness
  • Humility
  • Meekness
  • Patience
  • Bearing with one another
  • And if one has a complaint against each other forgiving each other as the Lord has forgiven you
  • Put on love, Peace of God in your hearts and let the Word of Christ dwell in you.

This is a list long enough for a lifetimes work. I could maybe think about adding one of those to my New year resolutions but all of them? Too hard.

But that’s the joy … we don’t need to work on it grinding away, we need to allow the Holy Spirit to work on and in us to develop these gifts, perhaps growing them like trees in the garden of our life.

Personality is the person you present but your character is who you are when no one is watching. Only God really knows your character, the rest of us mostly see your personality with glimpses of your character.

When you go home do you kick the dog, or speak or act unkindly to your family, do you act with bravado at work and lie like everyone else does?

”the quote will be with you later….I’m just finishing it now….”

Do you constantly moan and complain? Who are you when you’re away from church or even away from others? Have you got a secret addiction that is running your life? Maybe this is a time to repent of the ungodliness within us and ask for God’s help!

You see Godly character is letting fruits of the Holy Spirit grow in your life but if it is the fruit of the spirit, you have to be filled with the spirit to be able to grow and therefore exhibit the fruit. More simply put You can’t grow fruits of the spirit without the spirit!

The frontline isn’t just a primary place for mission it’s a primary place for Jesus to teach us about how to become more like him … we might feel tested and stretched but that is the time when we see our true character coming forth.

Godly character prioritises :

  • Character over gifting
  • Humility over pride
  • Selflessness over selfishness

These are the tests of Godly character. Character is not just visible through actions but through emotional posture. Sometimes we do the right thing through gritted teeth but the next time we might do the same thing but with a smile.

Stories: Chris speaking in front of 2000 people then hoovering the Venue he just spoke at.
Mixed economy church … the preacher doesn’t collect his fee and go home, he or she moves chairs, wipes coffee spills and tries to have deep and meaningful conversations at the same time.

Godly character looks like:
Explaining the same thing over and over again to the person with dementia.

Godly character looks like:
My old church leader Mark biting his tongue when he could have given a witty retort.

Godly character:
Allowing someone that doesn’t have dementia to tell the same story over and over that they love telling without snapping at them and hurting their feelings.

Godly character:
Giving appropriate sanctions for a child when they did something wrong, not too harsh not too soft … ooh that’s hard.

Godly character:
Keeping others secrets that they are ashamed of and have confided in you.

Godly character is:
Not boasting or name dropping or trying to make yourself look better than you are…..so easy as a church leader to do that….be over spiritual not humble ….

I am one of those frustrating people whose brain moves very fast and I assume I know how your sentence will finish so sometimes I cut in … apparently that’s really annoying and puts people off what they were saying. Who knew? (That is a joke!) The challenge for me is to listen to what people have to say and not assume I know it already because I am often wrong. For me Godly character is listening before I speak.

So as we are ambassadors for Christ people judge Jesus on what they see in me … if I’m kind they might think Jesus is kind.

If I am …
Preachy, annoying, judgemental
then that’s how they might see Jesus.
And if I am …
Kind caring thoughtful generous
the same rule applies

You are all now my frontline, so the challenge for me is to be filled and overflowing with the Holy spirit so that his love and the love and character of Jesus pours from me. As you all ask God to work on your character you will see my godly character and the lack of it displayed in front of you; but it’s not a competition it’s more like the Olympics where each of us participates in our chosen sport to make the country of Christ look good.

As we seek God and rely on the Holy Spirit to help and fill us we will over time see Godly character displayed on our frontline … hope you didn’t cheat and read all of this unless you knew where your frontline was.

Holy Spirit, Please fill us with your love and power and change us so you can grow the fruit of Godly character in us.

Amen

There will be a video version of the service and a podcast of the sermon.

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