Introduction ~ First, lets be clear about what we mean by character—it is clearly not the same as reputation. Reputation is what others think you are. Character is what you really are—the truth that God knows about you. (One good test of character is how you act when no one else is around to observe you.)
A Key Reality ~ More individuals, including leaders, fail and sometimes fall because of character than because of competence. In advanced civilizations hiring decisions are made almost entirely on what an individual has proven they can do (competence) versus the individual they have become (character). One clear reason for this is competence is much more easily determined than character.
Jesus said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matthew 23:23-28).
Spiritual Leaders ~ Where Scripture describes the qualifications of elders and deacons (I Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Peter 5:1-4) the qualifying factors—when understood from the original language—are all character issues.
Spiritual Lay People ~ Read how the book of Colossians describes the character of a believer. “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:12-17)
Conclusion ~ Put bluntly: God does not care about competence (after all He gave that to you). What God does explicitly care about in the spiritual realm is character—which requires tough choices by you as you journey through life on earth. But this is only important regarding His children who have accepted His Son as their Savior. Good character and any resulting good works are of no value from an eternal perspective if you are not covered by the shed blood of the crucified Messiah—Jesus Christ.
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