Character  by Pastor Carl W. Mann, II

John 10:22-38 “And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch. Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I showed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.”

The Jewish leaders and religionists of His day consistently challenged Jesus.  Wherever He went, whenever He ministered, and whatever He taught brought criticism to Jesus by those who spent more time finding fault rather than following.

Once again, in the setting presented in today’s Scriptures, Jesus is responding to the disputations of His detractors.  If the Jewish leaders were truly interested in Who Jesus was they only needed to take note of His character.  Everything Jesus did lined up with what He said.  The essence of His response was simple, “My works are merely an extension of Who I am!”

The excellence of Jesus’ character was exhibited and established in the three areas of examination that challenge everyone:

  • Secrecy

It has been said that, “Character is what you are when no one is watching.”  Of course, we know that it is not possible to be anywhere or do anything that God is not present and does not see everything (Hebrews 4:13).

Jesus was never anxious about His “private” life as it relates to being judged by God, or anyone else for that matter.  He maintained His integrity with God and men always.  You will never find an instance in Scripture where Jesus was looking “over His shoulder” in fear because He kept His eyes focused on His Father always and did always those things that pleased His Father.

Jesus maintained His character so effectively that when Satan searched for an entrance, a flaw, in Jesus’ life he couldn’t find any.  John 14:30 “Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.”

We too must always maintain our character, especially in the secret areas of our lives.  Paul practiced this principle – Acts 24:16 “And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.”

The excellence of Jesus’ character was exhibited and established in the three areas of examination that challenge everyone:

  • Stress

Adversity doesn’t determine what we are, it only reveals what we are.  Hot water doesn’t create the tea in the tea bag it only facilitates the release of the tea’s flavor.  Adversity did not create Jesus’ character it only facilitated the release of His “flavor.”  Psalms 34:8 “O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.”

Jesus did not yield to the temptations of anxiety, revenge, and frustration.  When He was confronted with persecution, pressure, and passion He did not retaliate, nor did He question the love of His Father.  He maintained His integrity amid a loveless world and set the supreme example of “strength under pressure.”

1 Peter 2:21-24 “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”

Because Jesus lives in us by the Holy Spirit we too are to exhibit strength under pressure.  The Holy Spirit enables us to express faith in God in all circumstances.

“The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety.”—George Muller in Signs of the Times. Christianity Today, Vol. 35, no. 95.

Philippians 4:6-7 “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

The excellence of Jesus’ character was exhibited and established in the three areas of examination that challenge everyone:

  • Success

“Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” – Author unknown.

This is a true principle.  There is another principle that is akin to this: “There is no temptation more serious, subtle, and subversive than success.”

Very few people can safely handle success.  Jesus did not allow His success to compromise His character.  He never allowed anything or anyone to divert His focus on His Father and the mission His Father entrusted to Him.  When He impacted individuals by His ministry, He refused to take any credit for what His Father had done through Him.

John 5:19 “Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.”

John 5:30 “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.”

Jesus did not come to exalt Himself.  He did not look to men for applause or approval.  He humbled Himself and volunteered to “play second fiddle.”

Philippians 2:5-8 “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

Like Jesus, we are to submit to the Father’s will.  If the sacrifices of God are a broken and contrite spirit, then we must maintain a character of “brokenness” that is pleasing to God.  We must continually be about our Father’s business without measuring our successes by the level of acceptance and approval from others.  We must maintain a character that elevates God.  We must decrease, and He must increase.  Therefore, Jesus taught His disciples to pray, Matthew 6:10 “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”

Paul expressed the proper attitude of measuring success when he wrote to the Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 4:5 “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.”

Jesus exhibited the character of His Father.  We also should exhibit the character of Christ.  I pray God it will be so.