Teachings on Character
1. Be Perfect
Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:48 NIV
“In a word, what I’m saying is, grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” Matthew 5:48 The Message
When God calls us to give an account for our thoughts, words, and actions, he does not do so to compare us to murderers, terrorists, or thieves; he compares us to himself.
If we have broken God’s law in any way, no matter how small the infraction may seem to us, compared to God we are offenders.
Christ is perfect and we will never become perfect. Jesus wants us to keep striving towards perfection in our relationships with one another.
As much as is humanly possible, we must aspire to be like Jesus.
Learn to compare yourself to the standard that is highest, rather than excusing yourself by comparisons to others
2. Keep Your Word
“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. Matthew 5:33-37
Be honest before God and with each other.
Keep your promises. Prove that you can be trusted.
There are many ways to be dishonest. One is to remain silent in the face of untruth, in justice and unfairness.
Integrity matters. Truth matters. Promise keeping matters.
Misleading someone by not telling the truth or by keeping silent about something is deception.
As Christians, we cannot remain silent in the face of heresy or compromise with it.
We must always fight for the truth.
3. Go the Second Mile
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. Matthew 5:38-42
The principle of the second mile is to do more than is required or expected of us. Do beyond what is required. Give beyond what is required.
When we go the first mile we are doing what is expected of us. The second mile is given freely.
In Jesus’ day, if a Roman soldier saw a Jewish man or boy, he could command the man or boy to carry his backpack or burden for a mile. The Jewish boy or man was required by law to carry this soldier’s burden for a mile. However, most Jews would not carry this burden one inch or one foot further than the law required. This law caused terrible resentment among the Jews toward the Roman government.
When a Jewish man or boy is carrying the soldier’s backpack for the first mile, he is a slave. However, when he chooses to carry the burden for a second mile, he then takes control of the situation. The character mile moves us from slaves to masters. The first mile is the “have to” mile, but the second mile is the “want to” mile. The second mile changes the context of the relationship.
4. Do Unto Others
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12
What we call the Golden Rule refers to Matthew 7:12.
The Golden Rule – doing for others what we would want done for us summarizes Jesus’ teaching about how to live for others. Jesus’ entire way of life is about concern for others.
Treat others as you wish to be treated.
The “Golden Rule” is the name given to a principle Jesus taught in His Sermon on the Mount. The actual words “golden rule” are not found in Scripture.
The Golden Rule says to actively pursue and treat others as we would like to be treated in all things.
5. The Narrow and Wide Gates
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:13-14
There are many ways to live your life, but only one way to get to Heaven, and that is to choose the narrow way. The only way to enter Heaven is through the narrow confines of a Christian walk. Recognizing that the easy way does not yield the same reward as deliberately choosing the harder but superior way.
The narrow path is living the way Christ expects us to live, as stated in his commands. The narrow road involves following the teachings of Jesus. It is a harder road, as the Sermon on the Mount shows us – It is not always the easy way to turn the other cheek, it is not an easy road to love your enemies, it is not a simple path to refuse to judge the motives of others.
6. Be Wise
I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Matthew 10:16
A defenseless sheep in the midst of a pack of wolves would stand no chance of survival without the faithful protection of a courageous shepherd.
It is that sense of helpless and dependence that the Lord wants of us.
It is awareness of your complete inadequacy that enable you to be used so mighty by God.
He was alluding to the belief at the time that the serpent was smart, cunning and cautious and in that characteristic Christians are to emulate them… The snake knows to pick his fights.
Embody the characteristics of keenness and innocence.
Do not naively entrust yourselves to men
Do not without good cause make them angry.
Do not fall into the traps of their catch questions, but pray for grace to give them the appropriate answer.
Do nothing that might enable them to bring a valid charge against you.
In Biblical times, the word “shrewd” did not have the same derogatory sense of
meaning that it seems to have today. It was a more positive term meaning cautious,
wise, and prudent.
7. Do Not Worry
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:3 NIV
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Matthew 6:25-26 NIV
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:31-34
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Take your worries to God and leave them there. Trust God and let him be in control of your life. To worry is to have little faith.
Because we believe in God, we can have peace in our storms and struggles.
Worry exhibits a lack of trust in God. Instead of worrying, put my trust in God and know that all things will work together for the good of those that love him.
Trusting God means we come to the point that we can know that God will provide what we really need.
Rest content in Jesus’ protection and control of our lives.
Have inner peace knowing you belong to Jesus’.
God has the power to overcome your fears.
8. Rejoice in Persecution
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:11-12
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. John 15:18-21
Jesus said that if we are ridiculed or rejected because of following his way or speaking the gospel, then we should be happy.
Some people will find distasteful our religious beliefs. We are to expect opposition and hostility from unbelievers. When you experience hostility because of your beliefs, you are to maintain your allegiance to Christ but it will not always be the easy way.
You are persecuted because Christian values are in distinct opposition to world values.
9. Invite the Poor
Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Luke 14:12-14
Do not perform good deeds/works on the basis of mutual invitation.
The real meaning of hospitality is found in inviting someone who cannot repay you, someone who is unfamiliar to you.
Show hospitality to people who do not have the means to repay you.
Do good deeds for those who cannot reciprocate the favor.
Befriend those who cannot repay you for your interest, concern, or time.
Others help people who can’t help them, by feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, or helping the handicapped.
True volunteerism is giving to those who cannot repay you.
Instead of inviting our friends or rich neighbors, we are to invite “the poor, the maimed, the lame and the blind.” We are called to get past society’s balanced 50/50 arrangement. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. . . . But love your enemies, and do good, and lend expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great . . . . Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:32-36)
You are a steward and not an owner of your possessions and God is free to direct you at any time to acts of unselfish investment in others who cannot repay.