Known By Character

Mat 15:10-20 MSG
10  He then called the crowd together and said, “Listen, and take this to heart.
11  It’s not what you swallow that pollutes your life, but what you vomit up.”
12  Later his disciples came and told him, “Did you know how upset the Pharisees were when they heard what you said?”
13  Jesus shrugged it off.Every tree that wasn’t planted by my Father in heaven will be pulled up by its roots.
14  Forget them. They are blind men leading blind men. When a blind man leads a blind man, they both end up in the ditch.”
15  Peter said, “I don’t get it. Put it in plain language.”
16  Jesus replied,You too? Are you being willfully stupid?
17  Don’t you know that anything that is swallowed works its way through the intestines and is finally defecated?
18  But what comes out of the mouth gets its start in the heart.
19  It’s from the heart that we vomit up evil arguments, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, lies, and cussing.
20  That’s what pollutes. Eating or not eating certain foods, washing or not washing your hands—that’s neither here nor there.”

Growing up there were several idioms people would use if you asked them about a person’s character.  Such as, ‘his word is his bond’ ‘he’s of stirling character’, ‘if he gave his word, you can take it to the bank’.  There are probably many more, but those are some of the ones I can remember, many when watching television shows of that era.  Good character was what defined a person.

I look around at society today and I am not so sure you could find many people with such characteristics.  People break promises, neglect to honor cheques, lack respect for others properties, and things.  It is basically every man for himself, no stomach in lending a hand when others request it.

The major portion of Scripture deals with the character of a man, morally and spiritually.  The Mosiac Law and then the Sermon on the Mount are two prime portions addressing a man’s character.  

These also define two more principal areas of character. Our relationships vertical and horizontal.  Our vertical relationship is with God, get this wrong and the horizontal relationships are not in alignment with the character traits set out in the written Word.  Both reflect each other!

These traits do not come easily, for most of us it is a constant struggle.  Many times going to others and asking for forgiveness for our treatment towards them.  Times of making amends for wrong actions.

Some of my earliest memories of listening to preachers are to describe what many called them in those days, “Bible thumpers”.  Yes, they would almost loose their voice, ranting and railing about the sins of the flesh, tobacco and alcohol.  Let there be no misunderstanding I believe both are wrong, but, not for anything found in Scripture, just on the basis they destroy one’s own health.

For those wanting to debate about the wine Christ made at the wedding feast I have no conclusion for there is a lack of information found within the account recorded.  However, Christ was dealing with something that was far deeper than just the surface attributes of a man.  His was dealing with matters of a man’s soul, his heart.

We find all through the four Gospels that Christ points out that a man ‘s character is not judged by what he eats or drinks, but, rather those things that comes out of his mouth.  For it reveals the true nature of one’s soul, one’s heart.

The Apostle Paul described it as an inner war:

Rom 7:14-22 KJV
14  For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
15  For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
16  If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.
17  Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
18  For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
19  For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
20  Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
21  I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
22  For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:

Every day I find I struggle with the same types of battles.  Easily frustrated at times with others around me, saying words that I cannot bring back as though they were never spoken.  Seeing a need that another has and not helping when I have the ability to do so.  It all seems so simple, but yet so complexed.

My final thought is this, yes, we are our brother’s keeper!




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