21st June 2015

Great character traits for life

In society we see many different examples of what men are supposed to be like. Maybe it's a perfect physique, being good with ladies, being financially successful, being independent. What would your view of Christian men be if you looked just at the media? Perhaps dithering, unfashionable, weak, hen-pecked, and many other things.

When we look at Philip in the book of Acts, there are nine character traits for godly men (and women, too, but as it's Father's Day we're addressing men in particular!) that we can learn from. Firstly we find that Philip is a man of wisdom (Acts 6:3). Wisdom here isn't to do with intellect or education. It's about character. It's about doing right and honouring God when it comes to the small things. Each little act of disobedience erodes your character, slowly bankrupting you until you have nothing left when it comes to wisdom.

In the same verse we read that Philip was also a man full of the Holy Spirit. What are you full of? We've been designed to be full of the Spirit, empowered by Him, led by Him, in step with Him.

Philip was a man who handled disappointment well (Acts 7:58). He lost his friend Stephen, who was martyred, and was probably forced out of his home when the Church was scattered. I'm sure he asked the question: 'Why?' But he handled his disappointment in a way that didn't shape him; he didn't allow it to be the defining factor in his life. Philip preached about Jesus – the very thing that Stephen had just been killed for. For the Christian, hope can only be deferred, it can never be lost. We can allow disappointment to rob us of what God has for us, but disappointment is temporary, it is not eternal; we will not take it with us when we are with God forever.

In addition to this, Philip was a man of courage (Acts 8:4-5). Nelson Mandela said: "I learned that courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it." Are you triumphing over fear? Praying for boldness and courage is a good, biblical prayer.

Philip was also a man of initiative (Acts 8:5). He saw an opportunity and he stepped into it. Whatever he did, he threw himself into it, whether it was caring for widows when he was asked to, or responding to the need in Samaria off his own back. Some of us are too passive – just waiting for God to do something. Others of us are too picky – saying it's not quite right or it's not our thing. But sometimes just getting involved leads to other things down the line. We're all called to play our part.

Even with initiative, Philip showed great humility – he was a man under authority (Acts 8:14). When the apostles asked him to take care of the vulnerable widows, he did. Then later, when he saw revival and signs and wonders, he welcomed the apostles when they arrived and offered their input. He understood their gifting and made space for them. How do you respond to authority? Do you resist and fight anyone who speaks into your life? The Bible says we are to submit to one another and respond well to instruction (see Proverbs 13:13).

Philip was also a man of the Bible (Acts 8:35). When he went to the Gaza road and was speaking to the Ethiopian, Philip began with the Scriptures. Do you start with the Bible? Do you know it? We provide lots of ways you can access the Bible if you find it difficult – we upload preaches, blogs and life application questions most Sundays; you can download the Bible in audio so you can listen to it if you struggle to read; we run a Foundations Course to help you go deeper into foundational truths in the Bible.

As well as – or due to – these traits, Philip was a man of good reputation (Acts 6:3). In our society today we glory in notoriety and outrage. It's what we see in the media: the more stupid, controversial or explicit, the greater your fame. In some ways it's always been like that – we can see that from reading the book of Proverbs. Being of good reputation is of great worth and when it comes down to it, we would rather work and live with those who have a good reputation.

Finally, Philip was a man of obedience (Acts 8:26). Philip made a 60-mile journey to a desert place because God told him to. It's easy to obey God's promptings when everything is good, but it's a different thing when we're being sent into a wilderness situation. God described David as a man after His heart because he did everything God wanted him to do. Obedience matters.

Philip was an amazing man, but he was nothing compared to Jesus, who is our ultimate example of how to live. Our communities need men (and women) who imitate Jesus and Philip and live as they were designed to live.

Paul Mann

Posted by Paul Mann










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