A Character Crisis
Paul Confronts Peter
11 But when Peter came to Antioch, I had to oppose him to his face, for what he did was very wrong.
12 When he first arrived, he ate with the Gentile Christians, who were not circumcised. But afterward, when some friends of James came, Peter wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore. He was afraid of criticism from these people who insisted on the necessity of circumcision.
13 As a result, other Jewish Christians followed Peter’s hypocrisy, and even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.
Peter did not always live up to his name, which meant "rock." Instead of demonstrating strength of character under pressure, Peter acted like a hypocrite. As a leader of the church, Peter knew better. Yet his fear of what others would think drove him to compromise the truth of God's Word. Fortunately, Paul publicly confronted Peter about his error before his actions injured the church. Serious character flaws can lead to serious church problems.
1. What do Paul's actions in this story reveal about the importance of displaying Christian character?
2. How can one Christian's lack of integrity affect the whole church?
3. Why do you think some Christians willingly compromise their integrity?
4. When a person stumbles because of a character weakness, what steps can he or she take to get back on track?
New Living Translation, Second Edition - 1 Kings 11:9-10
9 The Lord was very angry with Solomon, for his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice.
10 He had warned Solomon specifically about worshiping other gods, but Solomon did not listen to the Lord’s command.
For all his great wisdom, Solomon had some weak spots in his character - he gave in to idolatry and worshiped other gods. Solomon's downfall did not occur all of a sudden. Over the years, he made poor choices, one at a time, until he had completely departed from God's laws. The little sin in Solomon's personal life grew until it split his kingdom! In the end, even the wisest man who ever lived could not rely on reason alone to overcome his character flaws.
1. If Solomon was the wisest man, why do you think he made such unwise choices?
2. For what reasons are people tempted to compromise their integrity?
3. How does compromise affect a person's character?
One of the leaders of the early church, and the wisest man who ever lived had one thing in common: Each one demonstrated a lack of character and suffered pain and humiliation for his mistakes. The way to avoid a character crisis is to recognize the areas in which we are most vulnerable to temptation. If we strengthen those weak spots in our character, we may be spared a great deal of pain and grief.
1. What weaknesses do you recognize in your character?
2. What steps can you take this week to strengthen those weak spots?