“Character is destiny.” This quote, attributed to the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, has been on my mind these last months. Seemingly a response to those who claim that fate controls one’s life regardless of one’s life-choices, “character is destiny” places the path and end of one’s life into one’s own hands.
Certainly, there is much truth in this statement, both from a secular and religious viewpoint. It does not mean to suggest that a person of poor character cannot be successful from a worldly standpoint. Only that the result of their life will reflect the choices which they made, and the character which informed those choices.
We might be dismayed to see wicked people, liars, cheaters, and the like, rise to prominence and power in our world. We might be saddened to see the world seemingly support such people. But we, like the Psalmist, have a more informed perspective.
When contemplating the success of the wicked, the Psalmist says, “When I tried to make sense of this, it was troubling to me. Then I entered the precincts of God’s temple, and understood the destiny of the wicked” (Psalm 73:16, 17 NET). It is here, at the end of life, where we see a man’s character become his destiny.
“For By grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).
As we reject fate determining the end of one’s life, so too do we reject our ability to save ourselves. On this, we rely upon the character of the Christ. Due to his perfect sinless life and sacrifice, he opened heaven up for all who will come to him in humble and faithful obedience. This is God’s grace. Without that nothing we do or fail to do makes any difference.
Jesus experienced “death on behalf of everyone” (Hebrews 2:9), yet not everyone will be saved (Matthew 7:13, 14), “only the one who does the will” of the Father (Matthew 7:21-23). In this respect, what we do, what we think, who we are, will determine where we spend eternity. This is man’s faith. Without that, God’s grace will not save.
If we will put on Christ (Galatians 3:26, 27), and become like Christ (Galatians 4:19; Romans 8:29; 1 Corinthians 11:1; Ephesians 5:1), then our character (our Christ-likeness), will lead us to eternal life. Character can be destiny.