Friday, August 28, 2015

Fantastic Family Friday: Words of Character

The following article appeared in the August 12 edition of The Clinton Chronicle.
"Remember who you belong to!"
Ma-Ma often left me with this challenge when I was a teenager and left the house to go out with my friends.  As I walked out the kitchen door, her exhortation followed me. 
Those few words summarized a whole lot.  I knew then and now that Ma-Ma was saying . . .
  • You belong to the Lord.  You are a representative of Jesus Christ to the world, so live like it.
  • You belong to our family.  You represent the Wilson and Hendrix families.   
  • Make decisions that honor the Lord and your parents.  Don't be a fool!
In essence, my mother wanted me to display good character.  Ma-Ma’s words stayed with me even into my adulthood.  Growing up, I wanted to be a man who honored those to whom I belonged.
Every good mom and dad wants their children to grow up to become adults with good character.  We want them to shine like stars, as we often say to our children today.
As a father of three children, I want their character to outlast me. 
As a young married couple, Bill and Gloria Gaither wanted to purchase some property in their hometown of Alexandria, Indiana.  Having been told that the man who owned the specific land they desired would not sell, Bill decided to go see him face-to-face.  After discussing the land, the owner realized that he once knew Bill's grandfather.  The man told Bill that he would sell him the land because of the character of Bill's deceased grandfather.  The man's character outlived him.  His character was his legacy.
I have a few short years to influence my children when we live together in the same house.  However, I can influence them for decades to come through my prayers. 
The Scriptures provide several lists of noble character traits.  Several years ago I took some of these lists and divided them up into specific prayers for each day of the month.  There are twenty-nine traits here, one to pray daily.  On months with thirty or thirty-one days, there is grace in case I missed a day or two.
Why not begin praying these simple words for your family?  The legacy made by their impact just may outlast you.

1.           Above reproach (a good reputation)
2.           A one-woman man (faithful to his wife / to her husband)
3.           Self-control (exemplifies balance in words and action)
4.           Prudent (being wise and humble)
5.           Respectable (serves as a good role model)
6.           Hospitable (unselfish and generous)
7.           Able to teach (communicates God’s truth)
8.           Not given to wine (not addicted to substances)
9.           Not self-willed (not self-centered)
10.        Not quick-tempered (not characterized by anger)
11.        Not abusive (not violent)
12.        Not quarrelsome (not argumentative nor divisive)
13.        Gentle (sensitive, loving, kind)
14.        Free from the love of money (not materialistic)
15.        One who manages his own house well (a good spouse and parent)
16.        A good reputation with those outside the church (a good testimony to unbelievers)
17.        Love what is good (pursues godly activities)
18.        Just (wise, discerning, not prejudiced)
19.        Devout (holy and righteous)
20.        Not a new convert (mature in the faith)
21.        Loving
22.        Joyful
23.        Peaceful
24.        Patient
25.        Kind
26.        Merciful
27.        Good
28.        Faithful
29.        Self-controlled

The first twenty qualities are taken from Paul’s descriptions of the character of an elder.  These character traits should mark the life of any godly, mature man or woman.  The last nine traits come from the fruit of the Holy Spirit.  (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-10; Galations 5:22-23)

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