Text: Gen 32,37 & 39, Judges 4&5, 1 Kings 3, Neh 1-13; Acts 9:36-42
A character is a person in a narrative work of arts. We are considering some Bible characters who by their actions greatly impact our Christian faith. Apart from Jesus Christ who is the central theme and main character in the Bible and whose life epitomizes total righteousness, there are other characters that are worthy of emulation and they can be considered as role models and mentors.
In the secular, we often identify successful persons using human parameters and pattern our lives along their lives. Hardly do we consider pattering our lives along some of the selected Bible characters. Yet, these were great people, whose lives can inspire us and guide us to a fulfilled Christian life. Our Lord Jesus Christ chose disciples who were always following Him and these disciples looked up to Him for mentorship. This shows that you can not be an island. You need people to look up to. Hence in this sermon we shall consider characters who have distinguished themselves from others and have excelled. I believe the combination of their good traits will help you and I to live a successful Christian life.
Few characters to consider are Dorcas, Deborah, Joseph, Nehemiah and Solomon
DEBORAH - AS AN EPITOME OF SELFLESSNESS, PATRIOTISM AND COURAGE.
Deborah, wife of Lapidoth was a prophetess, a judge and a warrior in Israel. She was one of the great women and the only female judge mentioned in the Bible. She was gifted, effective, efficient, wise, selfless, courageous and patriotic. She stood up gallantly as a leader when someone was needed to stand up and lead the people of Israel. Under her leadership, a battle was fought and won. Even Barak the Israel army leader relied so much on her when they were to go to war that he said in Judges 4:8 that he won't go to war unless Deborah went with him. Hence Deborah went with him and God gave them victory. Deborah and Barak acknowledged God with a song of praise which is referred to as Deborah's song of praise as written in Judges 5:1-2. It was composed by Deborah to thank God. Worthy of emulation about Deborah are her selflessness, patriotism, courage ,leadership qualities, and acknowledgement of God as the mighty warrior. And as a prophetess she influenced her people to live for God.
DORCAS - AS AN EPITOME OF GOOD WORKS AND ALMS DEEDS. Acts 9:36-42
Dorcas also known as Tabitha was a disciple who lived in Joppa. She was an epitome of good works and alms deeds, very kind hearted and noted for making clothing for the poor and the widows in Joppa. This was evidenced when she died and all the widows stood by, and when the disciples heard that Peter was near Joppa they urged him to come. The scripture says in Acts 9:39, "Peter went with them,and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them." Peter, through the resurrection power of our Lord Jesus Christ, was able to bring Dorcas back to life and presented her to the believers and widows. When the news went round many people believed in the Lord. That God used Peter to bring her back to life was an evidence that God acknowledged her good works and alms deeds towards the widows and the poor.God wanted her to be alive to do more.
Brethren, what good works will be credited to you? The scripture says in James 1:27, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." God wants you to love and care for these categories of people. They are so much around you. It is fulfilling righteousness to routinely show kindness to them.
JOSEPH - AS AN EPITOME OF FORGIVENESS, HUMILITY AND SELF CONROL
Joseph's brothers hated him, plotted against him and sold him into slavery. Joseph however had an opportunity to revenge especially when there was famine in the whole country and his brothers had to come to Egypt to buy grains. Joseph was the governor and in charge of grains. He immediately recognised them; he however did not use the position and power at his disposal as governor to revenge. He was so kind and generous to them. He also gave them the opportunity to reconcile with him. He demonstrated high level of forgiveness and overcame evil with good. Even when his brothers fell down before him and said "we are your slaves" Joseph said in Gen 50:19-21, "Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. Do not be afraid, I will provide for you and your children". Joseph reassured them and spoke kindly to them. Joseph knew vengeance is of God and he demonstrated the spirit of forgiveness. Can you do same when it is obvious that you are being wronged? This is worthy of emulation.
Also Joseph overcame temptation and seduction from Potiphar's wife despite the chances. He did not succumb. What temptation could be greater than this?! Brethren, when you are being seduced and tempted remember how Joseph fled and left his garment in the seducer's hand. He refused to lie with Potiphar's wife despite her efforts and pranks as recorded in Gen 39:12. He said, "How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" His ability to control self, faithfulness to his master and commitment to God are worthy of emulation. Can you subject or put your body under control? You should be able to resist sin and flee from it in whatever direction it may be coming from.
NEHEMIAH - AS A MAN OF VISION, PURPOSE, PRAYERFULNESS and HARD WORK
Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem with the third group of exiles to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. He completed it in fifty two days through perseverance and prayers and with the support of some others who were on his side. Despite opposition, mocking, ridicule, insults and threats from Samballat, Tobiah and their group, he moved on, stood firm and with prayers he was able to accomplish and he triumphed. He was used in a unique way to accomplish the purpose of rebuilding the city wall. He mobilized people to build the wall. He stood in gap for the Israelites by confessing their sins, prayed and sought God's face. Nehemiah 1:4-5 confirmed this. He relied totally on God for success. He pursued his vision,very dogged and remained undaunted. He also led his people to God and ensured that sabbath day was kept holy. He was a reformer and he also lived to please God. This character is worthy of emulation.
SOLOMON - AS AN EPITOME OF ROBUST SACRIFICIAL GIVING
He made a robust offering of one thousand burnt offerings unto The Lord. Notable about his offering was that there is no record of such again in the scriptures. His offering was acceptable and The Lord was so impressed that He gave Solomon more than his request. His offering made a way for him, that the scripture says in 1 kings 3:5, "At Gibeon, the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream and God said, "Ask for whatever you want me to give you". His offering spoke for him and opened doors of blessings unto him.You too can emulate Solomon, by being a robust sacrificial giver. Try it and see what The Lord will do in return.
Beloved, the lives of the characters discussed above are worthy of emulation in areas of selflessness, godliness, good works and alms deeds, self-control, forgiveness, vision, prayerfulness, perseverance and sacrificial giving. You too can exhibit all these traits.
My father in heaven, make me a shining light and let my life be worthy of emulation. May my character be able to influence others positively and may your name be glorified in my life. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.