The world today is full of characters. The television, movie and video game industries have created hundreds and hundreds of characters for us to enjoy. There are those that we laugh at and make us feel like kids again. There are those that we invest in, and we hurt when they go through struggles. There are even those that we dislike, either because they were created to be unlikable or we just don’t see what other people see in them. If you asked any group who they thought was the best character of all time, you’d probably get a different answer from every single person. Action heroes, cartoon comedians, and even historical portrayals might be on the list. But no one could come to an agreement on who is the best because there are always different qualities that we each want in a character.
Oftentimes, many of us are trying to create our own character. I don’t mean on a piece of paper, but within our very own lives. We try to make ourselves into this character that we want other people to see. Maybe it’s to be accepted by others or just to be seen as the “best character of all time”. We build for ourselves a character that we then try to become. But there is a difference between building a character and building character.
Character is often described as “who you are when no one is around”. This is a pretty good description of true character, but in today’s world it even goes beyond that. With social media being what it is, you can be all alone but still become a completely different person online. True character is “who you are all the time”. The problem is many of us don’t actually have true character, because we are never the same person at church that we are at work, or at family dinner, or at a sporting event.
Jesus was often calling out people, particularly the Pharisees, on not having true character. He said to his disciples in Luke 12:1, “Be on your guard against the yeast of the pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” The term Pharisee has become one today that literally means “hypocrite”. The Pharisees built these characters that they were playing, but who they truly were behind closed doors was a different story. They portrayed themselves as the righteous leaders who should be followed, but their hearts had turned far from God. They were power-hungry impostors, not devoted religious leaders. And that hypocrisy, like yeast, worked its way into their hearts until it became their true character.
Are you building a character for others to see, or are you building character so that God may see your heart and who you really are all the time? Jesus never wore a mask or pretended to be something else. His character was who he was all the time.