Your character is what God knows you to be. Your reputation is how others regard you, based on appearances. See my article on reputation for more on this subject.
Our nation has lost its way. Television fare has become unspeakably vile, including TV sex ads.
Foreclosures on homes and bankruptcies, though sometimes brought on by circumstances beyond the control of those involved, are probably more often caused by people attempting to live beyond their means, These symptoms of lack of character; are ruining lives and depressing the stock market.
Financial corporations are crashing as leaders who thought they were above the law, embezzle funds. My mother and step-father, who retired from a lifetime as missionaries, lost their invested savings in one of those funds.
Pride of workmanship and quality are being replaced by shoddy workmanship as employees without character focus on wages and benefits rather than the quality of their workmanship..
Communities and homes are declining in value as they are being overrun by people lacking character and moral values. Neighborhoods are blighted and homes are losing value because of irresponsible owners and tenants lacking character who let the weeds grow in their yards and over the sidewalks, making it almost impossible to walk down the street and who allow beer cans and junk to clutter their yards and their garbage cans and dumpsters to overflow on to the streets.
America was founded by men and women of character. They may not all have been Christians, but they held to moral values. They held the Bible in high esteem.
The Mayflower Compact, the Constitution of the United States, our Declaration of Independence and other founding documents all contain references to our dependence on Almighty God. God’s name and Biblical references are carved into the stones of our national monuments. The first colleges and universities, including Harvard, were founded to train young men for the ministry. America was to be a land where people could be free to worship God without any coercion. Though a militant minority are trying to drive a wedge between church and state, safeguards were written into our Bill of Rights to protect us from being controlled by a State Church and to protect the State from prohibiting our free exercise of religion.
Bob Jones University has had a profound influence on my life teaching me character.
Over fifty years ago Dr. Bob Jones Sr., founder of the school, often spoke to us in our daily chapel service. His messages were usually Biblically-based conversations with us concerning character issues. He is noted for some of his sayings.
“You are free to swing your arms wherever you please, but your freedom ends where my nose begins”.
“Do right ’til the stars fall.”
“It’s never right to do wrong in order to get a chance to do right.”
“Good men are always reasonable.”
“You have to live somewhere forever, so you had better learn how to live.”
“If you learn how to live, you can learn how to make a living.”
“Back of every tragedy in human character there is a process of wicked thinking.”
“You can borrow brains, but you can’t borrow character.”
“The door to the room of success swings on the hinges of opposition.”
“When gratitude dies on the altar of a man’s heart, he is well-nigh hopeless.”
” It’s a sin to do less than your best.”
“Simplicity is truth’s most becoming garb.”
“Beware of unreasonable people. Good men are always reasonable.”
“Don’t sacrifice the permanent on the altar of the immediate.”
The importance of Christian character is one of the most important things I learned at B.J.U. Later, our three children and some grandchildren had the privilege of being students there. Each of our children found their spouse there. I thank God for Bob Jones University and its impact on my life and on the lives of our family. Though there have been changes that come with progress, they still stand for Biblical truth and for Christian character just as they have through eighty years of existence.
I’m not asserting that every BJU grad is the perfect example of Christian character. Many factors enter into our spiritual development; but what I am saying is that a Christian student who receives his education at BJU is going to be surrounded with Godly influence and have every opportunity to become a success in life and in the eyes of God.
We need Christian character.
The struggle between good and evil is ongoing just as it was back in the time of the Judges when “every man did that which was right in his own eyes”. Judges 21:25 There were a few good leaders back then, but not many.
Lack of character produces mere politicians who look to the next election.
Character produces statesmen who look to the next generation.
Thank God for some Godly national, state and local leaders today who have character in their backbones to do right. God gives a nation the political leadership it deserves. When God’s people get right with Him, He promises to heal our land. II Chronicles 7:14 With that healing will come a restoration of character and prosperity. May God continue to bless our families, our institutions, our nation and our world with charactered leadership.
In the early 70’s, faced with the pathetic lack of education our children were receiving in the public schools; after exploring a couple of Christian Schools and after a year of home school, using the Calvert Course; we eventually heard of a new program ACE (Accelerated Christian Education) and started an ACE school in our church to educate our children.
Dr. Donald Howard was the founder and president of ACE. In order to have this school in our church, I as pastor, had to take a week of pastor’s training in the pilot school in DallasTexas in order to gain their philosophy and methods of education. It was there that I learned the philosophy that I share with you in this article. In this article we deal with character, liberty and responsibility.
America was born in 1776 in an explosion of freedom of which our firework displays are a symbol. In one of the most exciting, notable periods in all of human history, our Founding Fathers paid a great price for the freedoms and blessings we enjoy today. After their Declaration of Independence from England, they fought and won the Revolutionary War and then set about to write our Constitution, which next to the Bible is one of the greatest documents of human history.
It established our nation’s form of government as a republic; with its three branches of government: the executive, the legislative and the judicial with all its checks and balances to prevent any individual or any branch of government from gaining too much power.
Our bill of rights protects us from the intrusion of too much government into our lives.
Our system of justice enables anyone charged with a crime to have a fair hearing through several levels of court review.
We have free elections which give us as citizens the final say as to who governs us.
Of course, we as Christians, recognize that all blessings come from God and that He is sovereign in the affairs of men and it was He who guided and inspired the writers of our Constitution.
WHY ARE WE LOSING OUR FREEDOMS?
Let’s review our history over the past four centuries.
In the 17th century the Colonists came with their Bibles, seeking religious freedom.
The 18th century was the century of our freedom from England and our founding as a nation. This was the time of our childhood zeal and excitement.
The 19th century was the century of our adolescent idealism. This was also the century we almost tore ourselves asunder through the Civil War. In His grace and sovereignty, God brought us through this crucial struggle, stronger than ever.
The 20th century brought our nation to the comfortableness & affluence of middle age.
Now in this 21st century the fatal disease of humanism has infected us as a nation. Man is his own god. He rejects the Bible. Unless God intervenes, we will crumble and fall just like every other ancient nation of the past.
WHAT IS HUMANISM?
Humanism is deifying man. In attempting to deify himelf, he dehumanizes himself as he rejects God’s Laws; resulting in: broken homes, academic decline, increased crime, and strife.
The degeneracy of our nation is seen in every area of our national life, including the schools, courts, media and internet, as ever increasing taxes and the ever-increasing government bureaucracy restricts our freedoms and stilfles economic progress. Academic decline and chaos has followed as our public schools have banned prayer and the Bible from the schools.
Political confusion has resulted as people have ignored character issues and have turned our elections into beauty and popularity contests.
We are losing our liberties to increased taxation and government control because we have failed to understand the relationship of responsibility with liberty.
It’s at times like this that I wish I had the ability to use my computer to draw diagrams, but I have not yet achieved that skill, so let me walk you through drawing your own diagram.
Picture if you can an upside down triangle with the point on the bottom. The bottom point pictures our birth. The top line pictures adulthood. Picture the diagagonal lines joining each side of the triangle from the bottom to the top. Now write the word responsibilities up the left line and write the word liberties up the right line of the triangle.
The diagonal lines picture our responsibilities and privileges which normally increase as we grow from infancy to adulthood. As we learn to handle responsibilities we are given more liberties. A baby has absolutely no responsibilities nor liberties, except to wave his hands and kick his feet, coo or cry and eat and wet and dirty his diaper. As he grows and develops he is given responsibilities little by little and with the responsibilities come liberties little by little as he can handle them.
Those adults who cannot handle responsibilities end up in prison or in mental wards where they have absolutely no responsibilities and few liberties.
What is required to bring about self control so we can assume greater responsibilities and enjoy greater freedom? The answer is character.
Now picture two stick men: a smiley one on the left and a sad one on the right. Put the letter C standing for character on the chest of each man.
The smiley man on the left has character. Draw two arrows from his character coming out from him and turning and pointing back to him. This shows that the character from within can control his thinking and his actions so that he makes wise decisions. He needs little or no external control. He can assume and carry out responsibilities. That is called character. Because of his character, he has earned the right to enjoy liberty to do anything that God has not forbidden and does not infringe on the rights of others.
Now look at the sad man on the right. Put an X over that point on his chest representing character. The X shows that he has no character. Instead of arrows coming out from his character, draw arrows from outside of him pointing to his chest. This represents outside controls that he needs because he lacks character.
As this is true of men and women, so it becomes true of nations. Some nations have character and with it freedom and prosperity. Other nations lack character and so are enslaved by others and by their own passions.
In Bible time, Israel often lacked character, disobeyed God and found themselves enslaved by nations such as Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome. When Israel obeyed and trusted God they had character and were able to defeat their enemies.
CHARACTER WILL AFFECT EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU
1. Your quality of life.
2. Your personality
3. Your attitudes, convictions, life style
4. The way you dress.
5. The way you treat others.
6. The way you keep your word and fulfill your responsibilities.
7. It takes character to stay pure on a date when tempted to do wrong.
8. To keep standing for what you know is right even when others mock you.
9. To be honest when tempted to cheat.
10. Character influences the way you pay your bills and use your credit. If you have bills due, you pay them on time, even if you have to cut your other expenses such as entertainment, clothing and even food. You ALWAYS pay your bills on time.You control your credit. Your don’t allow it to get out of hand. You use it wisely.
11. Students do homework without being told.
12. Children do their chores without being told. As a result, parents learn to trust their children and increase their freedoms.
13. Character enables you to clean your house, instead of watching TV all day.
14. It affects your work habits and your success.You don’t need a boss standing over you all the time. It enables you to work faithfully, even when others are wasting time.
15. All of us have certain things to do that we don’t enjoy doing, but if we have character, we get them done.
16.It keeps a married couple together, fulfilling their vows, even when their love cools off at times.
17. It enables parents to discipline consistently, not just when they feel like it. If parents fail to exercise discipline consistently and lovingly, their children will grow up lacking character.
Character comes from within. We are controlled by principles. Certainly a Christian controlled by the Holy Spirit should display character. Yet the sad fact is that many Christians lack character, for one reasons or another. Primarily it’s a lack of training as a child and a refusal to be controlled by the Holy Spirit.
A characterless Christian brings shame to Christ. Interestingly, some unsaved because of good training as children, exhibit true character and have success in life.
Character, with good works do not save. Ephesians 2:8-9 and Titus 3:5-6 clearly teach us that only faith in Christ saves.
But true faith in Christ enables us to grow in character. How sad to see charactered people who have rejected Christ lost on the way to hell.
Young people, make sure you find a spouse who is a Christian and evidences character now, or you will find yourself in a difficult marriage that may not last.
Consider Israel. When they lacked character to do right, they were weak and fled from their enemies. When they were strong, their enemies fled from them.
That’s how it is as a nation today. When we have character as a nation, we are strong before our enemies. When we lack character, we are defenseless and broken down and we are weak before the world.
WHAT WAS IT THAT GAVE THE PIONEERS AND OUR FOUNDING FATHER’S CHARACTER?
The Pilgrims came over in 1600. They brought their Bibles and built this nation on a Biblical foundation. They were godly people who believed and lived by the Bible. Because they had character, they could face the hardships of life. Can you imagine modern Americans putting up with their hardships?
Have you noted the difference in response to the floods in Iowa and the response of many in Louisiana at the time of Katrina? As you watched the flooding in the Midwest, did you notice there were no farmers running around with stolen plasma TVs or holding stolen liquor over their heads;
There was no looting or yelling “Where’s FEMA?, Where’s my check?”, or “Why isn’t the government out here saving me and my farm?” What was the difference? Character vs lack of character.
The 18th century brought a flood of immigrants from all over the world. Many of these people did not have a Biblical foundation for life. They did not know God. They came only for freedom and opportunity to be successful.
In time we had a diversified population with no unifying element. Church and State became increasingly separated.
In the early 18th century revival was spreading through the American colonies as preachers such as Wesley, Whitefield and Edwards warned of sin and judgment and preached the Gospel.
Christian colleges such as Harvard, Yale, Rutgers and Dartmouth were founded and taught the Bible. Jonathan Edwards, the preacher who preached the famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”, was the third president of PrincetonUniversity.
One had to be born again to be a student. He learned the Bible and was taught Christian character. Within one generation the seeds of Christian character had been sown in the hearts of men who would become the leaders of our new nation, America. and would provide the leadership for the independence movement from England. See the results of character in their lives by reading the article on our Declaration of Independence. Read of the heart-wrenching sacrifices they made for freedom. You’ll find the article under the category, AMERICA.
Where are such men of honor and principle to be found today? For the reason for our decline, go to the category KINGDOM and read God’s Kingdom in America. No wonder America became a great nation and has been blessed beyond measure by Almighty God!
Can America endure much longer when the God who gave us our freedom is being mocked in the class room and His Word is being driven out of our national life and the Christianity upon which we were founded is being replaced by the false religions of “liberalism”, “multiculturalism” and “political correctness”?
WHAT HAS HAPPENED IN AMERICA TO BRING IT TO THE MORAL LOW IN WHICH WE FIND OURSELVES TODAY?
We see crime, immorality, the depths of depravity paraded on television in our homes. We see poverty all over our land. We see rampant debt. Why? Because we are bankrupt of character. What happened? America turned from the Bible, to liberalism and the social gospel.
Humanism invaded our schools, fathered by Horace Mann and John Dewey. In the 60’s Bible and prayer were legislated out of the public schools and out of our national life. As a result, our nation lost her character and sense of responsibility and our dependence on God. We turned to the Government for our security from the cradle to the grave.
Folks, we can’t have it both ways. We can’t choose security by the government and enjoy freedom under God at the same time. We must choose one or the other. Either government is your god or God is your God.
WHAT HAPPENS TO PEOPLE WHO CEASE TO BE CHARACTERED?
They begin to see themselves as helpless victims of society and look for the government to meet all their needs and solve all their problems. That’s been going on for over seventy years now. People have lost character. They can’t solve their own problems and when things go wrong, they blame the government.
Will we ever learn? WE are the government. We’re the people who vote in the people who lead us. God sees to it that people get the government they need, as much government as our weak character requires.
A character decline in people is always paralleled by a growth in the power of totalitarian government. It always results in political and economic slavery.
Dependence on government for security becomes the major election issue for those devoid of character as they vote for the leaders who promise them the most money. The result of character decline brings about the growth of totalitarian government leading to dictatorship.
The contrast in the results of the French Revolution and the American Revolution would make a very interesting study. Basically the French Revolution was total anarchy ending in the dictatorship of Napoleon.
The American Revolution was led by charactered leadership willing and ready to assume responsibilities of leadership. The Colonists fought and won the War of Independence and established our Republic, securing liberty for unborn generations through a limited, Constitutional government.
Proverbs 29:2 says, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice. That was America right after the Revolutionary War. That verse continues “but when the wicked bear rule, the people mourn.” Does not that reflect the recent trend in America? The character of government merely reflects the character of the people who elected their leaders.
One of the major results of characterless government is that prices rise. Why? It’s not because things are becoming more valuable. Rather, our currency is losing value. As government prints more money with no gold behind it, it continues to decrease in value.
Music, art, literature and television fare becomes trashy as people are given the trash they crave.
People develop an anything goes mentality. They cease to be truthful and trustworthy. Bankruptcies rise. We become a lawless society as everyone does that which is right in his own eyes. For a shocking picture of the direction America is headed, read the last 5 chapters of Judges in the Old Testament.
We older Americans often speak in despair of this modern generation. It’s not that old fashioned is better than being modern; but we despair as we see character in America slipping away.
OUR ONLY HOPE IS FOUND IN II CHRONICLES. 7:14
“If my people which are called by My name, shall humble themselves and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sins and heal their land.” Christian friend, I encourage you to go to http://www.presidentialprayerteam.org and get involved in praying for America in this crucial hour. If you’re not an American citizen, we still need your prayers.