Character And The Strength Of Christ

I can do all this through him who gives me strength. 

Philippians 4:13

The first time I read the poem, “If,” by Rudyard Kipling1 was in High School when I was not yet a follower of Jesus Christ.  My literary teacher took us through the poem verse by verse. We were to contemplate not just the meaning but the difficulty in mastering each character trait applying it to both men and women.

I came away from that class feeling overwhelmed with the reality of how short I had fallen already. Would I ever be able to live up to these verses? Where would I get the instruction to confidently build my character to the standard set here?

It was not until I read a different verse that I found hope. It was right there in the Word of God! Philippians 4:13.

These words, so simple, so true, took away all the unreachable goals set by the poem without Christ. He became the Teacher, the Guide, the Counselor that was the foundation of every good part of my character. Without the strength of Jesus, I am defeated. I can try on my own but will never attain what He has planned for me.

These words, so simple, so true, took away all the unreachable goals set by the poem without Christ. He became the Teacher, the Guide, the Counselor that was the foundation of every good part of my character. Without the strength of Jesus, I am defeated. I can try on my own but will never attain what He has planned for me.

Christ is the prize, and the character of all believers should draw others into His loving arms. Not to glorify te man, but the Son of Man that is glorified when we do all this through him who gives us strength.
If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
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1. Kipling, R. (1943) If. Poem Retrieved from the Poetry Foundation website

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