Ever notice how we tend to blame our circumstances for our character deficiencies? We attribute our problems to poor upbringing, financial difficulties, or other people’s shortcomings. Your circumstances may be beyond your control—but your character isn’t. You can no more blame your character flaws on circumstances than you can blame a mirror for how you look.
Integrity is always a choice, and every time you make a character-based decision, you take a step forward in your spiritual growth. Think about the times you have faced temptation and adversity. Jot them down, and beside each one, note your choice: to escape, excuse, capitulate, avoid, persevere or overcome. What problem areas can you identify? How can you do better?
If the things you listed were due to circumstances beyond your control, then choose to take greater control of your life. How? ‘By adding… self-control’ to your arsenal. Our lives resemble icebergs, in that 15 per cent is visible; that’s our reputation. The rest, our character, is hidden below the surface. Character is what we think but don’t necessarily share. It’s based on what we do when nobody’s looking, how we handle life’s little aggravations, how we handle failure—and success.
At the end of a brilliant career, Joshua challenged Israel with these words: ‘Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.’ (Joshua 24:15 NIV) Character is based on self-control, and self-control is about making the right choices. And the good news is, you don’t have to do it alone: ‘God is working in you to make you willing and able to obey Him.’ (Philippians 2:13 CEV)