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The shadow of reputation

"Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody expects of you. Never excuse yourself." (Henry Ward Beecher)  My bible college professor used to tell us to live "above suspicion" in all we do and say. The idea of living in such a way so as to be "above reproach" - in a manner that would not allow any accusation to be considered against you - this is the idea of "living by a higher standard". It is not that we see ourselves as above reproach in some lofty or prideful way, but that we continually seek to allow the standard Christ set to be the one we follow.

A good reputation is preferable to riches, and the approval of others is better than precious silver or gold. (Proverbs 22:1 VOICE)

Beecher also said, "The real man is one who finds excuses for others, but never excuses himself."  I think the idea of continually asking the Holy Spirit to guide your actions, temper your words, and influence your thoughts AND then taking action upon what you know to be the will of God is paramount to walking in such a manner so as to be above reproach. While I may be able to excuse the actions of another as them not knowing better, I cannot excuse those same actions in myself because I have the Spirit resident in me and therefore, I do know better!  

Abraham Lincoln put it this way: "Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing." Let that one sink in for a few minutes. The shadow is what we think of the tree - sometimes looming bigger than life, spanning wide and far, but is it the "real deal". No! The thing we forget is that the tree is probably much smaller than the shadow, and all the scars in the bark, bareness or fullness of the leaves upon it, or the presence of various other life-forms within it is only evident when we look at the tree - not the shadow.

Reputation is like the shadow of character. The shadow of reputation gives us a hint of what the real character of a man or woman may be, but the reputation we believe is made up of what we have come to know about the person. We trust in certain attributes and whenever something is said contrary to what we have come to believe about the individual, we find it hard to accept. Just as with the tree that casts a huge shadow upon the ground, we may see the shadow of a man's reputation is larger than life proportions, but what we must trust more than anything else is what is in the heart of the man. Just sayin!


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