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Monday, September 19, 2005

Character is who you are in the dark

I was raised in a generation that compartmentalized. Compartmentalization is where I don't let what I do in one area of my life affect what I do in other areas of my life.

Bill Clinton is an obvious example of compartmentalization. He could have sex with an intern in the White House and not let it affect the way he ran the country - because he compartmentalized.

I would suggest to you that God wants us to look at our Christian lives as a whole. That one area DOES affect the other - and especially our character.

At its root, character is defined by integrity, and at the heart of integrity is the idea of wholeness. If an object or a person has integrity, it means that the object or person is in an unbroken condition.

A chain is only as strong as it's weakest link - to use an old cliche.

To have character, I must have integrity. To have integrity, I must be continually "whole" in my life.

Character is who you are in the dark. I love that quote. It's so true. I was reading this week an interesting thought from the movie "Titanic."

(By the way - I caught the end of the older version of the movie the other day on T.V. - the black and white version - and found it much better - they were singing the old Welsh hymn "nearer my God to Thee" as the boat went down it was beautiful and moving).

Anyway, I read that one of the primary reasons the ship was considered unsinkable was because of the compartments in its hull. The theory was that flooding in one compartment due to a breach - a broken place - in the hull wouldn't affect other compartments because of the high walls between them.

What the Titanic's designers did not anticipate was that the collision with the iceberg slashed through several compartments at once, so that the sea water spilled over the walls from one compartment to another until the ship sank.

The same things applies our lives.

We think that we can keep a break on part of our lives from impacting the others parts, but it just doesn't work that way.

An Integrity break in one compartment of your life will spill over to another until your entire life begins to sink.

So how do we keep our lives from flooding.

Integrity is a key word. Keep our lives together. Living our lives in private the way we do in public, and vice versa.

I quote, "when you live your life as a whole rather than in parts, you can handle breaks (and you will have them) because they are caring people around who will help you repair the damage - if they know about it."

So, pay attention to the small stuff in your life. Do what it takes every day to develop your character and preserve your integrity. Let's live our lives to please God!

1 comment:

Jon said...

A definition of integrity includes, "right actions being taken even when no one else is around or will ever become aware." Kinda like character in the dark, you know.

This area (character/integrity) has no worldly representation. At least not where I have seen lately. There are people that I consider to have character and integrity but no businesses. There are several that show promise, such as Chik-fil-l (or however you spell that chicken place) whose owner has decided to respect the Sabbath. That's right, you won't find one of those restaurants open on a's written in the franchise agreement! The owner also spells out the character of the company...but, as with all for-profit businesses (and some non-profits as well) sometimes the bottom line outweighs the stated character.

Sorry, I didn't mean to devolve into economics or business 101 and will now move back to the subject at hand...character/integrity. It is a whole, complete, sold-out standard that must encompass your entire cannot have character at church and less than in the cannot expect your integrity to survive if you only exercise it when it is convenient to do so. I watched the movie, "The Contender" the other day in which a vice-presidential nominee is accused of being promiscuous in college. She declined to answer the allegations because they were not worthy of an answer...she relied on principle to avoid answering the questions. Some roundly criticized her for her stand, some supported her stand while it was convenient to do so then switched sides, yet few understood what she was actually saying...she would not dignify the allegations (which turned out to be false) with an answer. To do so would violate her principles...yet there were other aspects of her life (the affair she had with her best friends' husband, her support of abortion, etc.) where her character was lacking. Did she have integrity? Did she possess good character? Was she principled? All good questions...just not applicable to most of our society!

God's standard, His instructions on how to live a good life, is His Word. May we all live by that standard and use it as our sole definition of character, integrity, principles. But let's live with forgiveness in our hearts as well, for in all things, God is love! And He loves the sinner just as much as He loves the's the sin He cannot stand. Let's all try to be like Him.

Walking with God (at least trying real hard!)