Abraham Lincoln said, “Character is like a tree and reputation is like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” Next week, Oct 15-21, is National Character Counts week. The third week of October has been proclaimed by our president and for the last 24 years as the week to emphasize character. I am not advocating or condemn this program in our educational system but, the idea of character has been around a lot longer than this program.
In the National Character Counts program there are six pillars of character that are stressed. They are trustworthiness; respect; responsibility; fairness; caring; and citizenship. Each of these pillars of character as they are referred to here is also in the Bible.
Trustworthiness-“Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.” (Proverbs 10:9)
Respect-“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31)
Responsibility-“For each one should carry their own load.” (Galatians 6:5)
Fairness-“Maintain justice and do what is right.” (Isaiah 56:1)
Caring-“Be kind and compassionate to one another.” (Ephesians 4:32)
Citizenship-“Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good.” (Titus 3:1)
Character is not an initiative that educators or lawmakers invented. It was God’s idea, and it is spread throughout his word. We want to our children to grow up and be people of good character. We as a society try to leave God out of it. We can teach the principals and see that they are enforced in our presence but as Lincoln said that is reputation. God is more concerned about the real thing that can only be accomplished through him.
Lincoln’s quote was also God’s idea. He says it this way in his word,
“The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7) (NIV)