How do we know what good character is and what it is not?
I read a fascinating blog post this morning. The author spoke about compassion, love, kindness, and other life-giving things. I agreed with him. But I wondered: where do they come from? How do we get them?
Some say that such attributes are built-in to the human spirit. They come with the base, out-of-the factory model. I agree with that, somewhat (the “somewhat” is for another post). So OK, we come with these things. But where did we come from? And how did these attributes get put into us?
Because I’m believe in God; and, more specifically, in the God who came into the world in Jesus the Christ, I believe that God is the ground of all character.
All of the character attributes we value–love, gratitude, kindness, compassion, etc.–are available because they are part of the person of God. Without a source or ground for our character or morality or way of life that’s outside of ourselves, then it could well be something we’ve made up. And who says what I make up is better than what you make up?
Otherwise, we’re Just Making it Up
Your idea of character may contain the feature of being honest. Someone else may laugh at that and say it’s better to do what you have to to get what you want, even if that means lying when it’s convenient. (The truth is not always convenient.) Who’s to say who’s on track and who’s off track unless the entire concept of character and how to live it out comes from outside of ourselves–a great source that gives us guidance and knowledge and the strength t0 embody it?
Our great source and strength is God, the one who made us and who put into us–into the base factory model of humans–God’s own image (with attributes like recognizing that love, compassion, kindness, etc., are good).
Otherwise, how will we know what character is and what the best way of life for us could be?
If we say it’s strictly up to us to decide, then we are on shaky ground. I have no way of demonstrating that my way is most helpful. Neither do you.