Reputation is what a man’s neighbors and friends think of him.
Character is what the man IS.
Character is personal. It is not a possession we can share with someone else. We can give a hungry person part of our loaf of bread; we can divide our money with one who needs it; but character is something we cannot give away or transmit. The brave soldier cannot share his courage with the trembling recruit who fights by his side in the battle. The pure, gentle woman cannot give part of her purity and gentleness, to the defiled and hardened woman she meets.
Character is our own — a part of our very being. It grows in us over the years. Acts repeated become habits, and character is made up in the long run, of those habits which have been repeated so often, that they become a permanent part of our lives.
Sow a thought — and you will reap an act;
sow an act — and you will reap a habit;
sow a habit — and you will reap a character;
sow character — and you will reap a destiny!
As the tree falls — so must it lie;
As the man lives — so must he die!
As a man dies — such must he be;
All through the ages of eternity!
J.R. Miller was a pastor and former editorial superintendent of the Presbyterian Board of Publication from 1880 to 1911. His works are now in the public domain.