Out of Character

It is alarming when someone begins to behave in a way that is not consistent with their character. Character is defined as the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing. We come to know the nature of someone and when they act in a way outside of their nature we can become uncomfortable, worried or suspect something is altering their behavior.

An encounter with Christ is meant to bring about a change in our character. In both the Old and New Testaments, men and women experienced radical life change when faced with the grace and mercy of God. It was in Moses' character to run from conflict and to studder and stammer in the face of a crowd. God, however, placed Moses in a major leadership role to face a mighty Pharoah and bring about freedom for an entire nation.

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Ruth was a woman of Moab. Women in her culture would have worshiped numerous gods and would have participated in sadistic rituals and sacrifices. It might have been in Ruth's nature to scoff at her mother in law, a Hebrew, after her husband's death, but Ruth experienced a heart change and chose to follow her mother in law back to a foreign land and a foreign people. Ruth experienced redemption and grace by way of Boaz and while on lookers waited for the Moabite to display some sort of heathen behavior, she acted out of character. Ruth exemplified grace and dignity.

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It is in my nature to become highly irritated with my children when they do not listen. I become impatient with slow service at stores or restaurants. I sometimes imagine retaliation against those who have hurt me or the ones I love. Every day, I must choose to die to that self. In Ephesians 4:22-24, Paul says, to put off your old self which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Amazing! Paul was one of the most educated and religious Jewish leaders of his day. His mission was to end Christianity and he would do so by pursuing and murdering Christians. But an encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus changed everything. Paul was struck down, blinded and then ministered to by the Lord. Jesus asked him why he was hurting His people. After a miraculous healing from this encounter, Paul's character changed. He penned most of the New Testament and commanded more grace and love on behalf of Jesus Christ than any other writer in the Bible. Talk about being out of character. I dare say his friends and family were shocked when they heard the news. I also know that he, himself was then hated and despised for his character change.

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None of these people engaged in a new life and massive shift in their thinking by way of more knowledge or religious activity. They encountered mercy, grace and love. None of them put up a finger and said, "Wait one moment, I need to go study this concept for several years, look at some statistics and make a cost benefit analysis of this thing called grace." They simply accepted what was offered by faith and allowed the grace to remold their behavior.

Prayer: Lord, make me unrecognizeable to those around me. Remake and remold me into Your image. Help me to put on a new character, help me to adopt a new behavior. One that speaks of the love, grace and forgiveness You have offered me and that you offer everyone. Amen.

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