Yesterday in the middle of a conversation about ministry and all, one young, vibrant preacher and pastor I know said, “I once heard a preacher say, ‘Character is not how you act, but how you react.’”
It took me a while to grasp the meaning.
I personally don’t rush into agreeing or disagreeing with a saying, especially those short ones, before I give it some thinking because I know that most of those short sayings come from those brilliant thinkers with a fine mind. So, I usually turn to my dictionary whether the wordings they use to formulate their thoughts seem familiar to me or not.
So, to understand, “Character is not how you act, but how you react,” let’s look at the dictionary definition or meaning of the word “act” and “react”.
The meaning of “act” is “to pretend to have certain qualities or state of mind” or, “to play a role or part.” (Notice the word – “pretend.”)
The meaning of “react” is “to undergo a chemical reaction (e.g. react with another substance under certain conditions)” or, “show a response or a reaction to something.” (Notice the word – “response.”)
So, to put all together and make them a bit practical, let’s see one example:
Some movie “actors” received undeserved and unmerited respect from the movie viewers because of their heroic “act” in the movie.
For example, some people expected the movie actors who “played” Jesus in the Jesus film and the Passion of Christ movie to be and live like Jesus.
Can those actors take their fans’ expectation as a challenge and strive to copy the life of Christ? You bet they can (assuming that they invited Christ into their hearts) and some movie actors actually received Jesus Christ and some stopped being nominal Christians and picked up their cross (“response”) after being deeply touched by the spiritual-personality-role they played in a movie (“act”).
When a person’s “reaction” to life circumstances goes south while his “act” (what he projects to be from the outside) goes north, he is called an actor, or a phony or a hypocrite, not a follower of Jesus Chris.
I don’t know about you; but for me personally, this is one of the most convicting, as well as challenging, spiritual truths I have ever come across. ///
P. S. For those of you who want to study further about this topic, refer the Book of Matthew chapter 23.