Character and Values

I spoke recently to High School and Uni Students on the topic of Kingdom Culture. Christians live “in the world” but are not “of the world”. Yet they are impacted by and pressured into the culture of the world. That is why care needs to be taken to understand and to live by the culture of God’s Kingdom – Kingdom Culture.

Seek the Kingdom

Jesus Christ told us directly that we are to seek God’s Kingdom and not to be distracted by the things that the people in the world are distracted by.

“Take no thought, saying, What will we eat? or, What will we drink? or, How will we be clothed? (For these are the things the Heathen seek) for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:31-33 (Jesus Christ)

God is King

While the idea of the “kingdom of God” sounds somewhat old fashioned it simply means that God is King. You Seek the Kingdom of God when you make God your King. In the Kingdom of God, God is King and God’s Will Wins.

To seek the Kingdom of God we seek to have God rule over our own lives, including our lifestyle, values, attitudes, thoughts, decisions, disciplines, and so on. Once God’s rule is clear in our own lives we can then be led by Him to establish His kingship in other areas where we have influence or impact.

Kingdom Culture

The Culture of God’s Kingdom involves three areas to look at. They are the cultural values that reflect God, such as Love, Faith, Holiness, Selflessness, Joy, Humility, Peace, Forgiveness and such like.

It also involves Living by God’s Standards as revealed in God’s Word (the Bible) and Christ’s Teachings.

And it also involves the need to be Unpolluted by Compromise, so we remain Separate from the World and Sin.

Character and Values

Kingdom Culture can be described in terms of your “character” and your “values”. These two things are separate and yet related.

Character looks at HOW you Live your Life, or, in other words, What you are Living BY.

Values look at WHY you Live your Life, or, What you are Living FOR.

Godly Culture involves you living the right way, living by the right things, but also living for the right reasons and objectives.

Character

Looking more closely at Character, remember that it is all about HOW you Live and What you live BY.

The way you live your life could reflect such things as: Greed, Selfishness, Opportunism, Discipline, Sensuality, Pride, Jealousy, Spite, Love, Humility, Faithfulness, Impatience, Anger, Violence, Patience, Self-Control, Laziness, Insecurity, Fear, Self-Determination, Self-Importance or many other character qualities.

Character describes How you travel through life, the mood you are in, the way you respond to challenges, and the tone of your lifestyle.

Values

Looking more closely at Values, remember that it is all about WHY you Live and What you live FOR.

What you are living for could be centred on such things as: Money, Fame, Pleasure, Revenge, Impressing Others, Serving Others, Holiness, Glorifying God, Career, Self-Fulfilment, Leisure, Getting Ahead of Others, Doing your Best, Being Respected, Getting Your Own Way or one or more of many other things.

Values describe Why you travel through life, what motivates you, what satisfies you, and what keeps you going.

Right Character and Right Values

It is possible to have good character, knowing how to do things the right way, but having wrong values. You could be very disciplined, respectful, sacrificial, wise and faithful, but use those good character qualities to serve your lust for success, fame, importance, revenge, or other wrong motivation.

In that case you would have good character but bad values.

Alternatively, it is possible to be sold out to serving God, blessing others, building God’s Kingdom and showing respect to your leaders, but to have such poor personal discipline that you are totally unreliable and unable to effect the things you want to do. You could be too lazy and undisciplined in mind to read God’s word, pray for any length of time, remember your commitments, and so on.

In that case you would have good values but poor character.

That case is reflected in Jesus’ disappointment with the disciples on the night Jesus was betrayed. Jesus saw that their spirit was willing (the right values and motives) but their flesh was weak (poor character to follow through on their good intentions).

Serving the King

A good servant of the King needs to have good character and good values.

You cannot be lazy or selfish, and you cannot be a thief or a liar. You need to be trained to be hard working, faithful, diligent, attentive, denying yourself and so on, and to use those disciplines of character for the right reasons.

How do you stand in terms of Character and Values?

Maybe you need to allow God to invade your life and to train you in godly character and godly values. Maybe you need to ask Him to do that, so you can be a good soldier of the Cross.

John William Fletcher Exemplifies Christ

This is the day that … Fletcher of Madeley died in 1785.

John William Fletcher, was born in Switzerland on 12 September, 1729, with the Swiss surname De La Fleceere. He was educated at Geneva and initially sought a military career. When an accident stopped him from sailing with his regiment to Brazil he eventually found his way to England. There he was converted at the age of 22 and became very close to the Methodists, often preaching with or for John Wesley. He was sometimes referred to as “the saint of Methodism”.

But on 6 March, 1757, we find him ordained in the Church of England. His personal conviction was Arminian and he turned down comfortable parish posts in preference to the working class parish of Madeley, where he laboured for 25 years. His personal piety caused him to always be discreet about his beliefs and to avoid conflict, even when he had to take a stand for his own convictions.

Bishop Ryle writes: “How Fletcher got over the difficulty of being a foreigner and not having taken a university degree, I am unable to explain” (Christian Leaders of the 18th Century, page 394). But, adds the good bishop, “things were strangely managed in the Church of England 100 years ago.”

Fletcher became a close friend of John Wesley, the latter’s well-known testimony being that he had never found anyone “in Europe or America who so exemplified holiness as John Fletcher.”

To quote Ryle again – a convinced Calvinist – “I will never shut my eyes to the fact that Fletcher was a Christian as well as an Arminian … he was a rare grace and a minister of rare usefulness” (pages 386-7).

Late in life, at the age of 52, he married Mary Bosanquet, another of Wesley’s ardent disciples.

His parishioners at Madeley – chiefly miners and ironworkers – flocked to hear this man of God … and we read of how he spent whole nights in prayer for them.

For 25 years this continued, until a short illness led to his home-call at the age of 56. It was a Sunday evening. As he lay on his deathbed, unable to speak, his wife whispered to her dying husband: “My dear creature, I ask not for myself. I know thy soul. But I ask for the sake of others, if Jesus be very present with thee lift up thy right hand.” “Immediately”, we read, “he did so, and then a second time” And then he died, “without one struggle or groan” (Ryle, page 417).

So highly regarded was Fletcher’s godly character that even Voltaire cited him. When challenged to produce a character as perfect as that of Christ, Voltaire at once mentioned Fletcher of Madeley.

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com.

Extra Baggage on Your Honeymoon

Is your wife addicted to buying shoes?

At a recent Valentines Day session I presented to married couples from the Philippines, one wife admitted she has a weakness for buying shoes. I called it the “Imelda Marcos Anointing”, after the wife of Philippines President Marcos, famous for her many shoes. A huge shoe collection, however, is not the worst of what people bring into their marriage. Often far more subtle things have more profound impact.

At a recent Parenting Course a pastor confided that one of his members had recently wed and has married badly. The couple were both very talented and seemed to work well together in the area of their skills. That fact gave them confidence their marriage would work well. One of them, however, brought unexpected baggage into the marriage. Past drug taking and unwise lifestyle choices had taken a large toll, and the person was not yet properly restored in their inner life. Their ability to perform well in areas of their talent did not mean they could perform well in responsibility, commitment, and the challenges of married life.

Each person entering marriage brings their hopes, fears, expectations, pre-conceived ideas, family programming, attitudes, values, weaknesses, vulnerabilities and pain on the Honeymoon and into the marriage. Some of those things are not even understood by the people themselves, let alone by their spouse.

However, God designed marriage to be robust enough to survive these surprises. Proper respect for God, faith in God, humility before God, godly character, godly wisdom, application of God’s grace, willingness to put “self” aside, and the application of Biblical principles empower people to work through the unexpected baggage.

I encourage you to recognise the baggage which you and your spouse brought into the marriage. It’s no use ignoring it or pretending it isn’t there.

Then seek godly wisdom for dealing with each thing. Fears can be dealt with through God’s love, since “perfect love casts out fear”. Pride can be dealt with by humbling yourself. Pain can be dealt with by letting God heal the broken heart and bind up the wounds.

Understanding that baggage exists and what your baggage is does not bring fear, but gives direction to your spiritual journey as you work through the challenges, with God’s wisdom and grace.

If you are facing challenges in these areas and would like some additional input, email our team to see what we would suggest in your situation.

Address your questions to: Questions@familyhorizons.net