“Your character is who you are when nobody is watching.”
Or something like that.
That saying is one that has always stopped to make me think and ask of myself this simple, yet, profound question:
WHO AM I?
Before anyone could ever encounter me at work, church, social media, or anywhere else, who am I?
There are a few passages in Nahum 3 that have led me to that question. To set the context quickly, God is basically chastising Nineveh. This city has been destructive, vile, and wrong in their ways; straight up rebellious, and without remorse. Well, it’s caught up to them. God, speaking to Nineveh in Nahum 3:5-7 (MSG), says,
“I’ll strip you of your seductive silk robes and expose you on the world stage.
I’ll let the nations get their fill of the ugly truth of who you really are and have been all along.”
BEHIND CLOSED DOORS, WHEN NOBODY IS WATCHING
Now, that’s scary. This comes after Nineveh has been exposed for who they have been all along: rebellious, evil, and lost in darkness and destruction. So, God essentially says that all of that will find them out—they’ll be revealed for who they are and for who they have been behind closed doors, when nobody was watching.
Now, let’s jump down to verses 18-19 (MSG), because there is a connection there that we can’t afford to miss. The verses read,
“King of Assyria! Your shepherd-leaders, in charge of caring for your people, are busy doing everything else but. They’re not doing their job, and your people are scattered and lost. There’s no one to look after them.”
This passage is fittingly at the very end of the chapter, after they have been chastised and exposed. Because, the bottom line is this:
THERE IS A DIRECT CORRELATION BETWEEN OUR CHARACTER—WHO WE REALLY ARE— AND HOW WE ACT IN THIS WORLD.
John Mark Comer, pastor of A Jesus Church in Portland, OR, writes, “You can’t outrun your character. It’s only a matter of time until your private life catches up to your public, for better or worse.” He goes on to write, “character is destiny.”
As leaders, ministers, or as people who are called to care for others, our character—who we really are — will determine and dictate not only our effectiveness, but our hearts and motives.
Nineveh and the kings have been reprimanded for who they have been when nobody was watching. Now, in verse 18-19, we see where their character has led them: to being “leaders” who haven't been shepherding their sheep; to being “leaders” who are just too busy to be doing any sort of lasting and eternally significant caring and pastoring and shepherding. Our character will affect the people we led, in a very indirect, uniquely direct way. Verses 18-19 finish by reading,
“Your cruel evil has seeped into every nook and cranny of the world. Everyone has felt it and suffered.”
SO, THE QUESTION IS THIS: WHO ARE WE?
When no one is watching.
Behind closed doors.
Our character is everything. May we become people who are being transformed by Christ, more and more into His image, every day.