By Guest Blogger: Jon Townsend
I'll be the first to admit that I'm not perfect, however, I try to live each day to the best of my ability. I wake up purposed to accomplish personal change. I organize my tasks and agenda to accommodate those changes, and it becomes my priority. Why? So I can be a better Christian, husband, father, and friend. I hear people talk about how others need to change so everything could just be better, but I rarely hear those people admit that they need to change. Here is a simple truth: when we transform ourselves we ignite the fires of change in others. If each of us was willing to change our Character for the better, incrementally, then our churches would begin to build stronger members, incrementally. Our community would share greater moral awareness, incrementally, and ultimately the integrity of our society would grow into a harvest of people exhibiting great Character, incrementally.
Jesus tells a story of an Unmerciful Servant in Matthew 18 that inspires us to self realization. In the parable, a servant owed the king a debt that equated to 200,000 years of a laborer’s salary. This exorbitant debt was as unfathomable then as it is today. After some time the king called the servant to settle his account. The servant begged for his debt to be forgiven, and the king had pity on him. The absurd debt owed by the pitiable servant was forgiven. So what happened to the newly freed servant? He had no debt, none! Did he call the Dave Ramsey show and scream, "I'm debt free!"?Did he go and celebrate his new found freedom? No, he went and found a fellow laborer who owed him 100 days worth of salary and he tried to collect the debt. When the fellow laborer couldn't pay, the debt free servant had the proportionally insignificant debt laden servant thrown into jail! When this came to the king's attention by other workers, the unmerciful servant was summoned to come back. The king was furious, and he sentenced the merciless servant to be thrown into prison until he could satisfy his debt of 200,000 years of wages. Here is a person who owed more money than was ever possible to earn, yet when someone slighted him with an insignificant sum in comparison with his own he was unwilling to forgive. Jesus closed the parable by saying," So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you if you do not forgive your brother, from your heart." (Matthew 18.35, English Standard Version)
Selfish people want to examine the faults of others to make themselves feel better about personal weaknesses. It allows them to think, "I'm not as bad as so and so, therefore, I don't really have to change." The sad reality is fault finders are some of the most pitiful and miserable people. I can say this because I'm a recovering selfish fault finder. I'm working hard to overcome this debilitating weakness one step at a time. I have found that seeking the highest good within myself helps me to seek the highest good in others. That search for strength within my life lets me realize two profound lessons. One, I have made mistakes and will make mistakes. Two, when I fail I must be willing to say I'm wrong, gain forgiveness and move on. When I adjust my perspective from having obtained, some stature to trying to obtain a Christ like stature I'm humbled because I know my present character doesn't favorably measure to His. That's why Paul so wonderfully said, "Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But, one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained." (Philippians 3.12-16, ESV)
The key to incrementally building great Character is exhibiting the humility which gives us the ability to assess ourselves, setting daily goals to change our specific faults, and realizing that everyone struggles therefore, we seek to assist others because we have been where they are and we understand weakness. "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you." (James 4.10 ESV)
Other Bible Passages to Consider: Matthew 7.3; Luke 18.9-14
About The Author: Jon Townsend is married to the love of his wife Jenn. Jon and Jenn have two beautiful girls Eleigh Kaye (4) and Emma Bess (2). After 8 years as a campus and preaching minister in churches of Christ, Jon now has his sights set upon becoming a lawyer. He is a J.D. candidate at Faulkner University's Jones School of Law. Jon holds a B.A. in Biblical Studies from Amridge University and a M.Min from Freed-Hardeman University. Jon teaches the 5th and 6th grade Sunday school class at Cottondale church of Christ where he and his family are members. He is the founder of coachingcharacter.com