Thanks to LaJoie Ward, a good friend of mine, you won’t have to listen to my ramblings alone. She’s an incredible Christian writer (her narratives are amazing!) and scholar. If you enjoy her work as much as I do, check out her personal blog Thought of Joy.
Your character is who you are inside; it’s created in the small moments but comes out when you’re under pressure.
Judas and Peter were both with Jesus for three and a half years. They both heard his teachings, traveled with him, and did his bidding. And they both committed terrible betrayals against Jesus. But these men’s lives ended in drastically different ways. Judas, filled with guilt at the realization of what he had done, went out and hung himself. Peter, though he was sorrowful for having disowned his master and friend, was sincerely repentant, and was welcomed back by Jesus after the resurrection. What made the difference?
Peter and Judas had both been creating their character over the span of their lives. Both had made various choices that affected who they became. And both reaped the outcome of their choices when the going got tough.
We read in several places that Judas had begun to make choices long ago to put something else as the master of his heart, though I believe he did have a genuine love for Jesus at one time. As Jesus said, no one can serve two masters. When it came down to the duel between Judas’ masters, Jesus lost.
“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” — Matthew 6:24
"Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.’ He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.” — John 12:3–6
"[Judas] asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?’ So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver.” — Matthew 26:15
Judas, little by little, began to serve money, until at last it became his idol and his master. He finally realized what he had done, and who he had lost. He realized that he had made a terrible mistake, and that money had not been a worthwhile thing to live for. But rather than repenting, Judas let his remorse and guilt drag him into despair and drive him to his death.
Peter, on the other hand, though he was far from perfect, was pursuing Jesus, his Lord. Though fear came between them, Peter ultimately went on to give up his life for Jesus. Early on, Peter recognized that Jesus was the single most important thing for which he could live.
“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God. Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)” — John 6:67–69
Interestingly enough, just as Peter and the others are showing their commitment to following the Lord, Jesus singles out the betrayer as an exception. One of them is not following Him alone. But Peter was earnestly in pursuit of Jesus, and Jesus made all the difference in Peter’s life.
What are you in pursuit of? What you choose each day to put first in your life is what you will run to when the going gets tough. And the only one strong enough to hold you in your darkest hour is the Lord. Choose Him today — choose Him every day.