Authentic Characters of the Bible
At some point you have been asked to define your character. Maybe on a job application you were asked to list 3 strengths and 3 weaknesses. On a staff development retreat you probably have done an exercise where your co-workers would spend time presenting to you the qualities they see in you. You might have even taken a personality test that would provide for you your defined trait on any given scale. We participate in all of these things because we desire to be the best version of ourselves in every situation.
When a person possesses good character it can be observed through their actions. It's not limited to a single value but the traits are demonstrated in the “good” choices they make and the “bad” choices they avoid. Because of this possession of “good character” that same person is then view as “authentic.” Being “authentic” means you are able to be your real and true self, without pretension, posturing, or insincerity. You are capable of showing appropriate vulnerability and self-awareness.
During this sermon series the focus will be on 4 “Authentic Characters” of the Old Testament; Ruth, Elijah, Joseph, and Rebekah. As we observed these individuals from the perspective of a personality profile our application will be to learn how an individual with a character quality like my own can be used by God. We will realize that building character is a life-long endeavor. It is something that is practiced both in the minutiae and the defining moments of your life. There will be times you step up to the character traits you embrace and other times you falter. By remaining committed to spiritual growth and learning about yourself, your character will naturally improve, even through the failures.
Training and Occupation: Ruth was probably a housewife as most were at the time and the death of her husband forced her to go out in the fields and glean for a living.
Place In History: Ruth is known as one of the most godly women in the Bible. God honored her decision to leave her own country and she is one of the most prominent women in David’s and Jesus’ genealogy.
Special Traits: She was one of a very few Gentiles in the entire Old Testament that gave up their own lifestyle, people, country, and idols in order to follow God.
Weakness: No recored weaknesses, but she had to have some.
Strengths: Numerous strengths can be seen in Ruth’s life. In 3:11 Boaz said, “for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence” Ruth 1:16-17, 3:1-5, 2:10-11, 4:15, 2:3
Important Acts and/or Events: leaving Moab, marrying Boaz, and giving birth to Obed (the grandfather of David).
Lessons from her life: God always cares for believers and always honors their decisions to follow Him and put Him first. Ruth made a huge sacrifice to do what was right. God blessed her for that.
Training and Occupation: At a young age a shepherd and errant boy. Under Potiphar he was a steward, a manager of Potiphar’s estates. Eventually he became second-in-command over all of Egypt, making him a world-leader and practically adopted royalty
Place In History: Through him much of Egypt was saved from the famine as well as Israel. If Joseph and his family died there would have been no Israel. God used Joseph to keep the line of the Messiah alive.
Special Traits: The power to interpret dreams. A very emotional man, he wept on multiple occasions. Genesis 40, 41, 43:30, 45:1-2
Weakness: Lack of sensitivity, a lack of maturity, and maybe some amount of pride combined to make him keep telling his brothers his dreams about his own dominance over them Genesis 37:6-11
Strengths: Faithfulness, stewardship, resisting temptation and discernment. Genesis 39:6, 8, 21-23; 39:7-12; 41:33-37, 47-49
Important Acts and/or Events: Sold into slavery. Put into prison. Made ruler over Egypt. Genesis 37:25-28; 39:20; 41:39-43.
Lessons from his life: Faithfulness, resistance to temptation, and forgiveness. Joseph was a prime example of faithfulness during his entire life. He suffered a lot and was sold into his slavery. It would have been easy to react in anger, to grow bitter and lazy, without caring about the world around him.
Training and Occupation: Shepherdess first, then wife and mother
Place In History: She was the wife of one of the patriarchs of Israel.
Special Traits: Discord, lack of unity.
Weakness: Practiced favoritism between her children. Poor mothering skills. Manipulative and rash in speech. Genesis 24:30; 25:28; 26:34; 27:6-12; 27:13
Strengths: Attractive, strong, a servant’s heart, diligent, kind and bold. Genesis 24:16; 24:15, 24:19; 24;18; 24:58
Important Acts and/or Events: Married Isaac. Gave birth to twins..
Lessons from his life: Servanthood is not just doing what we are asked to do- but going above and beyond to serve in ways that are difficult and take us time and effort. Genesis 24:15-20