Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves. . . .
I heard someone say recently, “What we need nowadays is people with good character.”
What is good character? Good morals? A firm handshake and a steady look in the eye?
Tina has good character. She’s a little rough around the edges —smokes Newport cigarettes, has faded tattoos, and can slip into colorful combinations of language that would make a sailor blush. But she lives a life committed to using every resource and gift at her disposal for the good of others.
Recently a young mom in the community died, leaving behind three young boys in the custody of their 18-year-old sister. These boys are fending for themselves in so many ways. Tina noticed them and began bringing them food and clothing. She takes the boys to a young men’s mentoring program at church, and when her immediate family has a birthday party or somewhere fun to go, she includes the boys as if they are her own. I think character begins with emptying oneself for others.
David Brooks, who wrote a book on character, said in an interview: “People who really have character make deep, unshakable connections to something outside of themselves.” Character involves a commitment to service and community, outside of oneself. In Jesus’ parable of the good Samaritan, for example, that is extended to include enemies (Luke 10:29-37).
How might we empty ourselves for others today?
Lord, you emptied yourself for us all. Fill us with your Spirit to live in humble service of others for your sake. Amen.
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