“Cultivate these things. Immerse yourself in them. The people will all see you mature right before their eyes! Keep a firm grasp on both your character and your teaching. Don’t be diverted. Just keep at it. Both you and those who hear you will experience salvation” [1 Timothy 4:15-16, MSG].
What is “character” and in Christianity, what defines good versus bad character? In simple terms, character is the manifestation of consistent traits by a person, based on what the person has been exposed to, taught, their mindset or brought up to display. For instance, a person who freely tells lies even when the situation does not warrant it displays a consistent trait of lying. Therefore, that person can be said to have a character of lying. On the other hand, a person who tells the truth consistently, even when they don’t have to or would get into trouble for doing so, displays a consistent trait of speaking the truth. Therefore, that person can be said to have a character of telling the truth. There are many character traits that anyone can display; some good and some bad. These traits are synonymous with what Jesus called “fruits” when he said, “Different kinds of fruit trees can quickly be identified by examining their fruit. A variety that produces delicious fruit never produces an inedible kind. And a tree producing an inedible kind can’t produce what is good. Yes, the way to identify a tree or a person is by the kind of fruit produced” [Matthhew 7:17-18, 20, TLB].
When we became born again, we became trees of righteousness, to bear fruits of righteousness so that the world will see our good fruits, and give glory to God the Father. These seeds of the fruits of righteousness were deposited in us when we become born again, by the Holy Spirit. Apostle Paul reminds us that, “But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence)” [Galatians 5:22-23, AMPC]. As we allow the Holy Spirit and the Word of God to do their work in us, these fruits mature and we abound in these traits. In the Gospels and in the Pauline Epistles, we are clearly taught what are good fruits and what are bad fruits; which fruits emanate from God and which fruits emanate from the devil.
Despite all that you do for the kingdom of God, it is very important that you keep a firm grasp on your character because it is what you carry with you every day. Some may not hear you preach the Gospel of Jesus with words, but they will see how you behave in situations and in how you treat others. They may not hear you preach the Gospel of Jesus with words, but they will hear what you say to or about others. They may not hear you preach the Gospel of Jesus with words, but they will see how you look at others. They may not hear you preach the Gospel of Jesus with words, but they will see how you carry yourself about. There is a saying that ‘a man’s character announces his arrival before the man himself arrives’. Therefore, it is not enough to be anointed with a million giftings from the Holy Spirit. It is nothing to boast about because you didn’t give yourself those giftings; they were given to you by God. Yet, through bad character, you can bring those giftings and the name of Jesus into disrepute. This is why we need to cultivate good character by constantly renewing your mind with God’s word, and letting it continually mold your life. In his letter to the church of Corinth, Apostle Paul said, “The only letter I need is you yourselves! By looking at the good change in your hearts, everyone can see that we have done a good work among you. They can see that you are a letter from Christ, written by us. It is not a letter written with pen and ink, but by the Spirit of the living God; not one carved on stone, but in human hearts [2 Corinthians 3:2-3, TLB]. What Apostle Paul meant was that he didn’t need any letter of recommendation from them, to show and tell others the quality of work he did. Rather, what was needful was the changed lives and the good fruits of a transformed life that the Corinthians bore. Can the same be said of you?
Take a firm grasp of your character so that you don’t appear as salt which has lost it savor or light which is dim. Rid yourself of those parasitic sins that so easily entangle you, throw off the weights, let go of the bad company that is corrupting you, and let Gods Word change your mindsets. For when your mindsets change, that is when your character will change accordingly. Let the Word of God dwell in you richly and its have it free and full course in your life, that your profiting will appear to all. That way, whether many hear you preach with words or not, your character becomes a testimony of the power of God and His Word, in a man’s life. Whether they choose to or not, they cannot help but give Glory to God the Father and will be opened to hear you preach the Gospel of Jesus, with your words.
Finally, “preach the Gospel, and when necessary use words” [Anon], and you do this by keeping a firm grasp on your character.