The history of the word ‘character’ is interesting. Anciently, character was the stamp or make by which a brick-maker, an engraver, or other worker marked the thing he made. Applied to life, character is that which one’s experiences impress or print on his soul. A baby has no character. Its life is but a piece of white paper on which something is to be written, some song or story, perhaps a tragedy of sorrow. Character grows as the baby passes into manhood. Every day something is written here, some mark made. The mother writes something; the teacher writes something; every day’s experiences write some words; every touch or influence of other lives—leaves some mark; temptation and struggle do their part in filling the page; books, education, sorrow, joy, companions, friends—all of life touches and paints some line of beauty—or scratches some mark of damage. Final character is the result of all these influences that work and interact upon the life. Character is the page fully written, the picture finished.
Christ’s character is the model, the ideal, for every Christian life. In the end, we are to be altogether like Him; therefore all life’s aiming and striving should be towards Christ’s blessed beauty. His image we find in the Gospels. We can look at it every day. We can study it in its details, as we follow our Lord in His life among men, in all the variations of experience through which He passed.
A little Christian girl was asked the question, “What is it for you to be a Christian?” She answered, “It is to do as Jesus would do, and behave as He would behave—if He were a little girl and lived at our house.” No better answer could have been given. And there is scarcely any experience of life—for which we cannot find something in Christ’s life to instruct us.
We can see how Jesus did behave as a child in the home, as a man amid human needs and duties, as a friend with faulty and imperfect friends, as a comforter among sorrow-stricken ones, as a helper of others in their ills and infirmities. We can find the traits and qualities of His life—as they shine out in His contact with temptation, with enmity, with wrong, with pain, with sorrow.
The study of the story of Christ’s life, is not like the study of a picture or marble statue; we see Christ in all human relations, and can learn just how He acted, how He bore Himself.–J.R. Miller