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Saturday, July 21, 2012

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments

FOR YOUR
CONSIDERATION
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he
stands in moments
of comfort and convenience, but where he stands
at times of
challenge and controversy." (Martin
Luther King)

A few days ago, while listening to a talk radio program, I heard a statement
made in regards to former President Ronald Reagan that caused me to start
thinking about the subject of our lesson today. That subject will be - the
character of a person. The statement consisted of these words: "The measure
of a man."
The gist of my thoughts today center around the question of "How do we
measure a man (a person)? We know, of course, that man's yardstick is far
different from God's. Let's look first at some of the ways man measures
people.

They look at factors like the circumstances of one's birth. Proverbially,
were they born on the "right side of the tracks?" How wealthy are they or
their family? One of the prominent factors in man's judging is physical
characteristics. IE: are they handsome/pretty or plain/ugly? You see, these
and other factors are only important in the shallowness of a lot of people's
minds. Hopefully you'll see that my point here today is that, regardless of
any of the above factors, we can still live a life of character.

Let's go back to Pres. Reagan for a moment. A reporter once wrote a column
about him and in it he said several things that I found fitting to our
lesson today. He said that even those who disagreed with him liked and
respected him. Shouldn't this be a visible characteristic of a Christian
today? I think so and in support of that opinion I'd like you to read the
words of Paul in 2 Cor. 6:1-6. If we stand for the truth with "love
unfeigned" we might be disagreed with, but we should still be respected. And
it's Christ who is glorified by that respect.

The reporter further described Reagan's character with the following
descriptors: courage, honesty, kindness, persistence and "almost heroic
patience in the face of setbacks." Read again Paul's words in 2 Cor. 6 and
then turn to 2 Pet. 1:5-8 and see if the so-called "Christian graces" doesn't
fit here also.
The reporter also penned the line in his column that goes directly to our
lesson thoughts here. He wrote: "The true measure of a man is not his
talent, intelligence, wealth or career success - character is what counts."

It's the character of a Christian that allows us to approach the grace of
God. It's the character of a Christian that causes them to remain "faithful
unto death." It's the character of a Christian that gives us the courage to
stand for right and truth at times when it might be unpopular and
inconvenient.
The Bible tells us that none of us are inherently good. That all of us "have
sinned and come short of the glory of God." (Rom. 3:23) We've all made
mistakes, have erred, and will continue to do so as long as we draw breath.
But we know that we are saved by the Grace of God, through faith in Jesus
Christ and it is my humble opinion that it's our Christian character that
keeps us faithful.

If you'll allow me, I'll cite to you another example of character from a man
of history. In 1894 a Captain in the French Army by the name of Alfred
Dreyfus was falsely accused of being a spy for Germany by some anti-semitic
army officers (Dreyfus was Jewish), convicted by a secret court martial and
sentenced to imprisonment on Devil's Island. This became known as The
Dreyfus Affair.

He spent 5 years in that terrible prison and once was offered a pardon, but
he refused it on the grounds that to accept it would mean admitting that he
was guilty of the charges and he was not guilty. Even though they tried to
keep this affair secret, it became known and the famous author, Emile Zola,
along with others, began a public outcry which resulted in his exoneration
and restoration to being an officer in the French army. He served with
distinction and honor through WW1 and following the war, was made an
"Officer of the Legion of Honor." He was a man highly respected and honored
by his countrymen.

I believe that Alfred Dreyfus can provide us with a great example of a
person of character. He was courageous in the face of the enemy, persistent
in the face of great tribulation and false accusations, not to mention
"heroic patience in the face of setbacks." Plus, when he was exonerated, he
did not show bitterness and hatred towards his country or fellow citizens.
He returned and served honorably and was recognized and respected for his
character.

And now let me summarize my thoughts here. Yes, it's nice when we possess
the character that causes our fellow man to respect, admire and even like
us. I repeat my belief that a Christian should have that reputation and
recognition with their fellow man. But it's what our character is with God
that really counts.
Do we possess those Christian characteristics pointed out to us in the
scriptures. Characteristics such as those mentioned by Peter (2Pet. 1:5-8).
And those spoken of by Paul in Gal. 5:22-23. I'll repeat what I said
earlier - it's these characteristics that allow us to approach the grace of
God.

Remember what I said earlier about how man measures his fellow man? That
wealth and material things seem to count a lot in man's way of measuring? I
had an acquaintance tell me the other day something her mother said to her
when she was a child growing up on a ranch. She had asked her mother if they
were poor and her mother, obviously a very wise woman told her: "We're not
poor, we just don't have any money."

We can have all the money in the world. Have reached a high career plateau.
Been born into wonderful circumstances with great opportunities available.
We might even be blessed with "movie star" looks or a great physique. We
could have all these things and yet, when it comes to character, be poor.
A Christian might be lacking in the things that man sees as methods of
measuring, but if possessed of Christian characteristics - will never be
poor by God's measuring stick.

Ron Covey
 

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