I like to think of it this way:
- When you put the squeeze on an orange, you get orange juice.
- When you put the squeeze on an apple, you get apple juice.
- When stressful circumstances put the squeeze on you, what comes out? Calmness or Anger?
Underneath our personality (how we behave) is our character (what motivates us) pulling the strings. During times of great stress, our ‘everyday’ personality mask is pulled off and our underlying character is revealed in behavior that is a true representation of our inner heart and soul.
Robert McKee teaches screenwriters how to adapt stories to film. A large part of ensuring a film’s success is making the characters as realistic as possible. Mr. McKee has been quoted as saying;
True character is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure – the greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character’s essential nature.
We see this idea expressed in the Bible, too. In Matthew 7:15-20, we are told how to recognize people spreading false teachings by the nature of the fruit they produce:
Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
When we plant seeds, they develop roots to survive and then the nature of the plant is revealed as it grows – showing it’s leaves, flowers and fruit. As persons, those things we value the most (occupying our minds, our time, our resources and our earnest desires) shape and define the fruit we would bear. Either we really love God and yearn to spend more time learning about Him, or we let ourselves be consumed with the things of this world. This isn’t to say we can’t enjoy learning about camping, boating, fishing and climbing, etc., but it shouldn’t become our obsession, either.
Luke 12:22-34 tells us:
And He said to His disciples, “For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith! And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom. “Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
There are four key concepts presented that I see connected to character:
- We need to seek God’s Kingdom, not the kingdom of this present world
- To do so, we must acknowledge God as King with all power over us
- God’s love and care for those who recognize Him as King is awesome and complete
- Our very heart (inner being) turns towards what we value most – especially when the squeeze is on. Which do we treasure most? God or ourselves?
If you live a life that earnestly and eagerly seeks God, then we could expect that when the pressure is on, you’ll yield the fruit of the holy spirit (joy, peace, self-control from Galatians 5:21-22). Specifically that through your faith and trust in Him, be equipped to stand up to the stress with calmness – trusting God to provide for your immediate needs.
However, if you live a life that earnestly and eagerly seeks the fun and pleasures of this world, rejecting God’s authority, then we could expect pressure to produce the fruit of the world (discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, etc. from Galatians 5:19-21).
At the root of it all is who we trust – God or ourselves.
Trailmen, if you struggle to be at peace during times of stress and anxiety, remember the source of our Motto “Walk Worthy” is Colossians 1:10 “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;”
- Bear good fruit by walking worthy and doing good works (serving others)
- Walking worthy starts with acknowledging who you really trust
- Increasing your knowledge of God will help you develop deeper trust in God
- Deeper trust in God can help you thrive during times of trouble.
Talk with your parents and your spiritual adviser (i.e. priest, pastor, minister) if you want to learn more about developing your trust in God, and learning to walk worthy in times of stress and anxiety.
- Romans 3:23 – “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”
- Romans 5:8 – “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
- 1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
- Psalm 9:10 – And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.
- 1 Peter 5:6-7 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
- Jeremiah 17:7-8 – “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
- Romans 12:2 – Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
- James 1:2-4 – Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
- Matthew 7:24-27 – Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.