One by one the fishermen left for the night. One lonely fisherman was left. One fish shy of the daily limit, he continued to fish in the darkness.
Finally, his third salmon was on the line; and in a few moments, he would be able to go home. After landing the fish, he noticed the salmon had been snagged, not hooked, in the mouth. As he took the hook out of the side of the fish, he faced a moment of truth¹. Should he keep the fish? Should he put the fish back because it was not legally hooked? Who would know?
Doing what is right, even though no one else is looking, is a defining moment of character. It's only one fish. It's going to die anyway. No one has to know. It may seem to be an insignificant moment but every moment of truth is significant. Men and women of character do what's right no matter what the situation. Good character is just that -- doing what is right in every situation not just when people are watching.
Good character is being consistent in every moment of truth. All through the Bible, we find people faced with moments of truth. Some like Joseph and Daniel passed their tests and others like Peter and Lot failed their moments of truth. Everyday we face moments of truth that constantly shape and define our character. When was the last time you faced a moment of truth? How did you do?
When we fail to do right, we use our circumstances as an excuse for not doing what is right. Men and women of good character have the courage to do what is right regardless of their circumstances. The Bible, by showing us men like Joseph and Daniel in their moments of truth, emphasizes the need for faith in God and knowledge of truth. Moments of truth call for courage and strength of character. The company they keep forms the character of weak men and women. Apostle Paul said: "Do not be deceived: 'Evil company corrupts good habits (character)'" (1 Corinthians 15:33 NKJV). Faith in God and knowledge of the truth helps us in character's defining moments.
How can we pass the test presented in our moments of truth¹?
1. We can not obey God without a proper knowledge of God's Word. Character development depends upon our familiarity with the Word of God.
2. We need to purpose in our hearts to do right. Good character comes from a pre-decided commitment to Biblical values.
3. We must learn to think Biblically about the secular issues we face. The Bible is the standard for right and wrong. We must learn how to apply right and wrong as we make our choices.
4 .We need to learn to think creatively. Too often we box ourselves in by thinking there is only one option in our moment of truth. Often there are creative alternatives that allow you to maintain good character in difficult situations.
5. We need to discern the value of doing right in the little things in life. These little things help us develop a pattern in doing right that prepare us for the big moments of life.
6. When we choose to do right, we don't always get the promotion or recognition we feel we deserve. Which is better? A good conscience or a promotion gained by failing a moment of truth. Ill-gotten gain brings inner turmoil as we constantly worry about losing every thing if someone finds out.
7. There is more to passing our moments of truth than just making the right choice. Good character is not only making right choices but having a right attitude. To make the right choice and not have a right attitude is to fail a moment of truth.
Every time we make a choice, it's a moment of truth by which we define and shape our character. What would you have done with the snagged fish? Would you have kept it or thrown it back?