Our theme for this month: “Character and Integrity”
Our Bible verse for today: “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:5-8 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “We learn by doing.”
Being a military man myself, I’ve always admired and been influenced by the examples of great military leaders, past and present. Cato was a Roman General during the time of Julius Caesar. It was said of him, “He was physically tough, intellectually brave, unflinchingly principled, and beloved by his people.” Robert E. Lee was known as a great military leader and as a dignified man of character, integrity, and virtue. Omar Bradley was a World War II General who was a brilliant tactician and warfighter, but with a kind and calm grandfatherly demeanor – and his troops loved him. Modern military leaders I have great admiration for include Generals Colin Powell, Paul Kelly, and Jim Mattis, and Admiral William McRaven.
What distinguishes all of those men in my mind is their strong character and absolute integrity, which grew out of Christian faith (with the exception of Cato), and lifelong military discipline. In his book “Call Sign Chaos” General Mattis writes,
“Whatever we learn to do, we learn by actually doing it. People come to be builders, for instance, by building, and harp players, by playing the harp. In the same way, by doing just acts we come to be just, by doing self-controlled acts, we come to be self-controlled, and by doing brave acts, we become brave.”
In terms of character and integrity, we learn to be a man or woman of strong character and unshakable integrity by actually doing the things that men and women of character and integrity do. At first, we have to discipline ourselves to act that way but soon, it becomes second-nature. We learn by doing. Learn it, do it, practice it over and over again, and soon it becomes who you are.
Christian maturity is an interesting mix of God’s work in our life along with our cooperation. It’s the work of the Holy Spirit that transforms us from the inside out, but we have the responsibility to learn the lessons of Scripture, intentionally apply the principles taught there to our lives, and then keep doing so over and over again until it simply becomes who we are. The Holy Spirit doesn’t simply wave a magic wand and “presto-changeo” now you’re Robert E. Lee. Transformation takes time. It occurs progressively and it is the result of both His transforming work, and of your disciplined cooperation with Him.
We learn by doing. I encourage you to learn the traits of godliness taught in Scripture, and then be very intentional about incorporating them into your life.