We will get there…

Tag: Hard Work

On Christian Character

“I think you may judge of a man’s character by the persons whose affection he seeks. If you find a man seeking only the affection of those who are great, depend upon it he is ambitious and self-seeking; but when you observe that a man seeks the affection of those who can do nothing for him, but for whom he must do everything, you know that he is not seeking himself, but that pure benevolence sways his heart.” – Charles Spurgeon, 1876

Understanding the character of those around you profoundly shapes your view of the world. This is intimately connected to understanding your own character as well. One cannot look at someone else’s failings or accomplishments without seeing themselves in regard to that. I truly believe this. When I encounter a man of low character, I usually do not think myself higher than him. I often find myself first asking, “Where is that weakness in me, and what should I do about it?” I don’t always follow through with actionable items, but sometimes I do. I think Character is one of the easiest things to fake, and hardest things to prove.

In the Western Evangelical church we often assume church membership equates to character, but sadly it does not. The church is nothing if not filled with broken sinful people. In some senses, that’s ok. Christ did not come to call the righteous, but instead the sinners (Mark 2:17). In other senses though, it can lead to a lot of pitfalls for those who are not wary.

In my experience, working with people seems to be one of the easiest ways to learn about their character. I have often found myself finishing an interesting spiritual conversation with a religious coworker only to turn around and be treated badly by them. It leaves me a little boggled, and confused. Though I do know, that once this happens I now have a quick and firm response for the next time they wish to give me moral or spiritual advice:

“I do not wish to discuss moral or spiritual matters with you, as you have shown through your character that any advice on the above from you will either be false or toxic.”
While this does well to protect me from fools, it is only the first step. From there I must then ask myself about my character, and where my shortcomings are, in hopes that I may avoid hearing this same thing from another. Worse yet, that I may avoid failing my God.




As I dug in my garden, hand tilling it yet again for another year. I relished the wind and and the cool temperature. I felt exhilarated to be doing physical labor after a long day behind a computer. I pushed the shovel in, twisted it and turned the dirt over, breaking up the clumps. I found a disproportionate amount of satisfaction in watching the clumps break apart. I would pause briefly to look around, take a gleeful note on the absence of mosquitoes and breathe in the cool breeze. Back to shoveling, up and down, in and out. Down the rows I worked my way. Blisters formed on my office soft hands, and I loved it. I would reach down to pull out a weed periodically, my hands getting coated in soil, and llama dung.

I finished the tilling, and took a rake to it. Smoothing over further breaking apart clumps, forming my growing mounds, and preparing the soil for its seed. My blisters grew, and with them my sense of accomplished pride. I knew this was making something, accomplishing something. I was preparing for the winter, and would see great return for my labor. I paused to glance over at my hops already a couple of feet tall, and thought of the bounty they might bring this fall. I thought of the fresh hopped brew I could make with them and my mouth waters. Back to work. I transplanted some tomatoes, and willed my old herb plants to bring forth life. I furrowed the dirt with my hands and prepared to put the seeds in the ground.

That was when I heard it. My blood froze in my veins, the sounds chilling me. A wild beast, growling then roaring, somewhere near me. My head snapped up as I frantically searched near by to see where the danger would come from. Again the wild roar sounded out and I near jumped, shaking with fear. I gripped my rake, and prepared for the charge, eyes still searching the horizon to see where this beast would appear. I gulped down bile, and shame at how shaken I could be. Then I spotted him. about 3 feet tall, with dark brown hair. I could only see the very top of his head and his bright blue eyes peeking over the edge of the porch. I had given him those eyes, you know. They were mine, and I saw my doom in them now. I straightened up and waved to him, and a giggle escaped the jaws of that wild beast.

Perhaps I would survive one more day. Perhaps.





Stephen Mattson

Inspiration. Faith. Christian Culture. Writing.

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