Strong Character: A Sign of a True Saint
By Natalie A. Lamb

How do you begin to learn what friendship, love, compassion, loyalty, and forgiveness are: all those different attributes it takes for each and every relationship we have in our lives?  Do you learn it from your parents?  To a degree, yes!  But it also has to come from the other relationships we have in our lives.  One thing I have not figured out is why some have this strong sense of loyalty, while others are void of this and other traits.  Why do some not comprehend the idea of being there for others and with others and being there not only when it feels good, but being present when it does not feel good?  Is that not what life is about?

There will never be a time when there is only bliss.  The journey of life brings negativity; ups and downs that you have to go through.  To think you will not have ups and downs in relationships is a misconception.  We learn from the struggles of life! Negativity is a test to see how much courage and character we truly have.  Relationships must be tested to see if one is true to their professing of friendship and love.  One will never know if you are true until you are put to the test.  Anyone can be awesome in the sunshine, yet the storms of life wash away the flattery of the tongue and reveal the trueness of the heart.  If you are not there during the storm, do you really have the right to take pleasure in the sunshine? 

If we are the children of God, why do some not know how to exhibit compassion, loyalty, forgiveness, long suffering and empathy?  How do we get so entangled in our minds to believe that “if I am not the center at all times, then the relationship is over?”  Are we really trying to embody God’s characteristics at all times, or has the rain exposed the true reality of our hearts?

In our journey of being Christ-like, we must think not only about our salvation but also the practical implications that being saved encompasses.  Our character and morality should be thoroughly investigated.  Morality is more than not committing behavioral sins.  Morality extends far beyond those acts.  One needs to look at their character and the deep issues of the heart to see if we have truly embraced what it is to be Christ-like. 

Christ embodies pure morality, character, strength and honesty. He is so compassionate, loving and longsuffering that He stood for His beliefs in spite of death. He had all trust and faith in His father, forgiveness, and the ability to be empathetic, just to name a few.  He not only said He would feel what it is like to be in our shoes, He actually put our shoes on.  Christ shed His blood and died for our sins, the One who had no sins.  So how are we supposed to treat one another? We must look at Christ for our example.  The bible says to mark the perfect man, which is Christ Jesus.  All of our relationships show how saved we truly are.  If you are not loyal, compassionate, forgiving, and longsuffering, then just how saved are you? 

God did not just save you from acting sinful.  He saved you to be a new creation; He wanted to turn us into something completely new.  He gave us His spirit so that we can be a new creation. Yet we must desire it to be completely new.  Often we are just happy with the basics of salvation that we do not push it further to the changing of our beliefs and attitudes, removing our defenses and truly loving the way God said to love.  If we examine 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8, we can see what Godly love is synonymous with Godly character.  Character can be defined as a person’s qualities or traits.  And just as Christ and God are one, so are we in Christ Jesus; one with Him and with the Father.  With this truth in mind we can substitute the pronoun “I” for “charity.”  So the verse could read:

I suffer long

I am kind

I rejoice in truth

I bear all things

I hope all things

I endure all things

I never fail

I do not envy

I do not vaunt myself

I am not puffed up

I seek not my own

I am not easily provoked

I think no evil

I rejoice not in iniquity

Our relationships are testing grounds to see how much character we have.  God is judging how we treat each other.  If you call someone a friend can you compassionately confront them when things go wrong and truly hear that person out?  Can you accept them as they are and respect them?  And even if you do not see eye-to-eye, can you say, “I will not leave you, I will stand with you because I love you and I call you friend.” 

One needs to learn how to be a friend to others, instead of always looking for others to be friends to them.  The only way to have a friend is to be a friend.  Are you loyal, can people depend on you, or are you always depending on others?  All adult relationships should be give-and-take.  If all you are doing is taking, know you are not a friend!

The bank of friendship cannot exist for long without deposits.  You must give or the relationship will go bankrupt.  If you truly love, you will give back.  You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving.  If you do not give, you do not love.  Summon yourself to greatness.  Become what you want from others.  You are accountable for your life.  We have the greatest power on earth residing in us; we can and should be great.