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Saturday, August 17, 2013

More than a good name

Reputation:  the estimation in which a person or thing is held; a good name; a good standing based on merit, achievement, or reliability.  Most of us go through life hoping to achieve a good reputation.  Yet, it never ceases to amaze me how people go about making a name for themselves - sometimes doing more to tarnish their repute than to improve it!  We only have to look at our star athletes, public figures, and media personalities to understand how the most inappropriate decisions can absolutely destroy one's good name. Sometimes it doesn't even matter how much "good" one has done - the one moment of folly and ill-chosen choices makes for a more lasting repute than all the good!  Maybe this is why we are told to earn a reputation for living well in God's eyes - and in the eyes of the people.  When our choices align with what God declares to be good - the actions which follow will almost certainly produce the results of "building up" one's reputation rather than tearing it down.

Don’t lose your grip on Love and Loyalty. Tie them around your neck; carve their initials on your heart. Earn a reputation for living well in God’s eyes and the eyes of the people.  (Proverbs 3:3-4 MSG)

So many people focus on how they appear rather than the character within. Based on what scripture declares, the character is what defines the man, not the image he merely portrays on the outside.  Eventually what is on the inside will make its way to the outside - when it does, if there is any incongruence between what one "displays" and what one "is" becomes quite apparent.  I found myself observing a new change in my body as I looked in the mirror this week.  My once pretty taut arm muscles looked a little saggy!  All I could think was when did that happen?  As quickly as I asked the question, I knew the answer!  I haven't been a diligent about giving my muscles their workout as I had been in the earlier part of the year.  The hot summer days have caused me to be a little less likely to engage in the yard work, or the other tasks which served to keep these muscles a little more "toned".  It is a poor excuse, and I know it!  Yet, what my body "displayed" was an actual reflection of the "laziness" I feel most of these extremely hot days of summer!  What is on the inside affects what we will eventually see on the outside!

"A good name" is desirable - but much "backs up" a good name.  On more than one occasion, I have relied upon a "good name" when buying a product, only to find out the name just didn't live up to what I thought I was buying!  I guess this is true when we consider people, as well.  Character is more than skin deep.  It is the result of things like a heart intent on serving God.  Earn a reputation for living well in God's eyes - have a heart attitude which reflects both the intention and the action of living well.  A word of caution here - Solomon is not saying we "earn" our "right standing" with God.  He is telling us to earn a reputation, not in God's eyes, but in the eyes of those around us for living well in God's eyes.  In other words, be concerned for what God wants to do in your life so he shines through for others to see.

Probably one of the biggest deterrents to earning a good reputation and keeping it is our own selfish pride.  Someone once said it is easy to be humble when you are low man on the totem pole.  Yep, indeed it is.  The higher up we go, the more status we gain, the greater the focus is on us. When the focus becomes intense, we often play-act a little, especially when we know we may not measure up in all the areas we'd like to.  It is like retouching a photo - we kind of cover over the blemishes and scars earned on the way up the ladder.  You know, I think people can learn a few things from us when we are willing to share a little bit about the times we missed the rungs and slid down a few notches!  There is something wholesome and liberating about being humble enough to share your failures and the grace which put you back on track again.  

Yep, a good name is important.  More important - the reputation behind the name.  When someone sees us, don't you think they deserve to see the consistency between the name "Christian" and the actions which reflect Christ to the world?  Just askin!