I was at a men’s prayer breakfast with some Christians. The guy sitting next to me related an incident from the previous day. He came out of a store to find a small dent in his driver’s side door. A spot of paint on his car seemed to match the car next to his. He was angry so he used his steel toed boot to kick a dent into the door of the car next to his. He said that made him feel better.
We all make mistakes. Sometimes we react first and then think later. This is normal, even for Christians. When we do, most of us realize our mistakes and apologize. Christian character means that we experience regret, learn something about ourselves and apologize for our mistakes. Acknowledging mistakes and accepting responsibility for oneself is virtuous.
Some people call themselves Christian but when we observe their behavior over time we may wonder at their definition of Christian. It is hard to know what another person really thinks or believes. It is good to give people the benefit of the doubt, up to a point. But a consistent pattern of questionable behavior over time can lead to questions about a person’s character. What is true for others is true for ourselves.
Jesus said, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits… every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit… Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7.15-20) That sounds a little scary. But the point is, what we do matters. A person’s character isn’t revealed by what they say is true. The true nature of any person is known by observing their behavior over time.