This is the sermon for Wednesday night, February 25th, 2009.

Character matters
Proverbs 22.

We live in a day and time that there isn’t much emphasis placed on character. The emphasis is now placed on personal choices and freedom, instead of personal responsibility.

Many people no longer believe in absolutes, and this I feel is the cause of the downward spiral of character in our country.

You see, character is birthed by absolutes. For example, if a person really believes that the Bible is the absolute standard of faith and practice for their lives, then their actions will give evidence to that belief. This belief in the Bible as the absolute standard is how true godly character is produced.

So our main point in tonight’s message is rather simply: In God’s eyes, character matters.

Tonight we are going to look at what Proverbs 22 has to say about character; both the importance of having a godly character and some principles of a godly character as well.

The true measure of your character is not in wealth and fame, but in a good reputation.

Proverbs 22:1-2 HCSB – 1 A good name is to be chosen over great wealth; favor is better than silver and gold. 2 The rich and the poor have this in common: the LORD made them both.

Let’s begin by look looking at verse 2 before we go into verse 1. Notice that verse 2 states that the rich and poor have something in common. The NET translates the first portion of this verse as: “The rich and the poor meet together.” The rich and the poor will live side by side in this life. In other words, as long as the earth spins, there will always be the rich and always be the poor among us, and the Lord cares for them both, and made both groups. In Hebrew the expression, “The Lord made them both,” can also be translated, “The Lord is the Sovereign creator of both.” In other words, He has sovereignly determined who is poor and who is rich.

And because of this truth, a godly character will treat both the rich and the poor as equals, not one above the other. Scripture is rather clear that God does not prefer us treating the rich above the poor.

James 2:1-8 ISV – 1 My brothers, do not practice your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ by showing partiality. 2 Suppose a man wearing gold rings and fine clothes comes into your assembly, and a poor man in dirty clothes also comes in. 3 If you give special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Please take this seat,” but you say to the poor man, “Stand over there” or “Sit on the floor at my feet,” 4 you have made false distinctions among yourselves and have become judges with evil motives, haven’t you? 5 Listen, my dear brothers! God has chosen the poor in the world to become rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he promised to those who love him, has he not? 6 But you have humiliated the man who is poor. Are not rich people the ones who oppress you and drag you into court? 7 Are not they the ones who blaspheme the excellent name by which you have been called? 8 Nevertheless, you are doing the right thing if you obey the royal law in keeping with the Scripture, “You must love your neighbor as yourself.”

Now in verse 1 it states that, “A good name is to be chosen over great wealth.” “Name” here in this passage can mean, “reputation.” It is better to choose to have a great name that it is to be wealthy.

Now let me ask a question, does this passage say that we have to choose between wealth and a good reputation? Not necessarily. I feel that the context of the entire chapter has to deal with this: If you steal from others, and do crooked things to get your wealth, this is evidence of your character and you have sinned and not chosen wisely. I do believe that Scripture supports those who have earned their wealth by hard work, and protected their reputation in the process.

Let’s look at a few verses from chapter 22 that deals with these type warnings.

Proverbs 22:16 HCSB – Oppressing the poor to enrich oneself, and giving to the rich—both lead only to poverty.

Proverbs 22:22-23 HCSB – 22 Don’t rob a poor man because he is poor, and don’t crush the oppressed at the gate, 23 for the LORD will take up their case and will plunder those who plunder them.

Proverbs 22:28 HCSB – Don’t move an ancient property line that your fathers set up.

Proverbs 22:29 HCSB – Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand in the presence of kings. He will not stand in the presence of unknown men.

Next, verse 1 states, “favor is better than silver and gold.” I believe that a true biblical godly character is evidence of God’s favor. I want us to view God’s favor as of more wealth than earthly riches. Notice what the Psalmist says.

Psalm 19:9-11 ISV – 9 The fear of the LORD is clean, standing forever. The judgments of the LORD are true; they are altogether righteous. 10 They are more desirable than gold, even much fine gold. They are sweeter than honey, even the drippings from a honeycomb. 11 Moreover your servant is warned by them; and there is great reward in keeping them.

When you place more emphasis on being obedient to God’s Word over personal freedom and wealth, that is evidence of a good reputation and God is favorable toward that person.

A person of good character will see the danger signs in life and avoid them.

Proverbs 22:3a HCSB – A sensible person sees danger and takes cover…

A person with a good reputation will also be a sensible person. They will not be hazardous in their life. They will be check for danger signs and avoid the danger.

Let’s look at a few danger signs in Proverbs 22 that a person of good character will avoid.

Proverbs 22:5 HCSB – There are thorns and snares on the path of the crooked; the one who guards himself stays far from them.

Proverbs 22:8 HCSB – The one who sows injustice will reap disaster, and the rod of his fury will be destroyed.

Proverbs 22:14 HCSB – The mouth of the forbidden woman is a deep pit; a man cursed by the LORD will fall into it.

Proverbs 22:14 HCSB – Don’t make friends with an angry man, and don’t be a companion of a hot-tempered man.

Let’s look at one final point.

A person of good character will live humbly before the Lord.

Proverbs 22:4 HCSB – The result of humility is fear of the LORD, along with wealth, honor, and life.

When a person humbles themselves before the Lord, there are results that occur.

• The fear of the Lord if given to them.
• The Lord will bless them with wealth. This doesn’t mean they will be rich, but that what they do have has come from the Lord.
• And the Lord will bless them with life everlasting.

This final category can also be found throughout Proverbs 22. Let’s look.

Proverbs 22:9 HCSB – A generous person will be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.

Proverbs 22:10 HCSB – Drive out a mocker, and conflict goes too; then lawsuits and dishonor will cease.

Proverbs 22:11 HCSB – The one who loves a pure heart and gracious lips—the king is his friend.

We are going to stop here tonight. Character matters to God. And as followers of Christ, we should endeavor to be people of character. Let’s ask the Lord to help us become men and women of character in a world that doesn’t know what godly character is. Let’s be a light in the darkness.