What’s one word you think someone at work would use to describe your character? What word would you use? What’s your favorite form of art?
In Bible days if an artist wanted to wear a groove into a metal plate, he would do so by repeatedly etching the same place with a sharp tool. After repeated strokes, an image would begin to take shape. The name for that tool in the Greek language is the word from which our word character is derived.
That word is used only once in the New Testament: "The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression [character] of his nature, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high" (Hebrews 1:3).
Think about the picture the writer of Hebrews was painting. The glory of God is exactly etched into the character of the Son. Just as an image of God is seen in the Son, when the character of Christ is etched into us, we present to the world a clear picture of the glory of God.
Think of someone you would say has great character and think of three words that describe the person.
Behavior and character are related, but they aren’t the same thing. Behavior is what you do. Character, on the other hand, is the person your behavior has built. Behavior is just one action: “I behaved badly in that situation.”
Character is the sum of my behaviors—public and private—consistently arranged across the spectrum of my life. Any behavior—duplicated and reduplicated—forms a part of my character.
Every time you make a decision, you cut a groove. Every time you react to a crisis, you cut a groove. When you hold your tongue and practice self-control or when you let your tongue run loose and speak your mind, you’re carving your character. When you say yes or no to a reckless temptation, you’re signing your name. When you stand up to peer pressure, hold the line on truth, or return kindness for cruelty, you’re cutting the pattern of your character. Here are a few examples of how this might look.
• The boss will treat his employees as human beings who have feelings, not as tools to accomplish his will.
• The marketing director who values honesty will practice truth in advertising and not exaggerate the company’s services.
• The team leader who’s striving for humility will resist the temptation to take credit for someone else’s idea.
• The hourly worker will never cheat on the time he or she clocked in or out.
What habit can you begin today to express godly character at work?
No amount of business-ethics training has been able to establish consistent integrity in the workplace. But habits motivated by biblical faith and engraved into our character over time can turn the way we do business into a slight reflection of the flawless character of God.
Excerpted from The Gospel Goes to Work Bible Study by Dr. Stephen R. Graves. © 2017 LifeWay Press. Used by permission.