A Good Reputation
Do you have a good reputation? I know most of the people in this congregation well enough to know that your answer to that question is probably “Yes!” However, I may not know you well enough to answer the next question, “Have you honestly earned the good reputation that you enjoy?”
You see, there are several ways to come by a good reputation. It does not have to be earned. For example, people may think highly of us because we associate with the right people. Or, maybe we inherited a good reputation from our parents. Or, like the Pharisees, maybe we have falsely impressed people with an outward show of piety (Matt 6:1-18).
A reputation therefore, is only how we are known. It is only what people believe or think about us, and what they think may not be accurate. It may only be based upon outward appearances. Concerning our reputation, Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” As this verse points out, a good reputation is desirable , but true character is more important because character is what we really are. If you have a good reputation, have you honestly earned it? Is it an accurate reflection of your true character? Or, is it based on a false impression?
God wants us to have a good reputation that has been earned. Anything less would be hypocrisy. The example of Ananias and Sapphira is that of a couple who had a good reputation with the church in Jerusalem, but it was only an outward show of piety, and did not reflect what was truly in their hearts. They sought to impress the church by stating that they were going to give all the proceeds from the sale of a piece of property to the church, but secretly decided to keep some of the money back for themselves. They were severely disciplined by God. Again, the church in Sardis, according to Rev 3:1, had a reputation of being alive, but were dead. Almost any servant of God who tried to get away with an evil deed survived for a while on a false reputation (Achan, King David, the sons of Eli, etc.)
We want a good reputation, but one that has been obtained the old fashioned way, by earning it, and we do this by building the kind of character that God requires. God wants his children to be honest, sincere, genuine, above reproach, pure in heart. This is true character. The only kind of reputation worth having is one rooted in a godly character. Psalm 15 states “Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman, who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the Lord, who keeps his oath even when it hurts, who lends his money without usury and does not accept a bride against the innocent. He who does these things will not be shaken.”
God wants people who are more concerned about their character than their reputation. A good reputation is worth having, but make sure it is based on character. A good reputation which is based on lies will eventually be found out, whereas a godly character, regardless of reputation, will eventually be rewarded (Matt 7:16-23; 1 Cor 4:5).