Why does reputation mean so much? Some would argue that our reputation is really all we have in this life. Our reputation is what opens doors, gets us a job, and makes us feel accepted and admired by others.
A reputation is such a delicate and fragile notion, as Benjamin Franklin commented, 'It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it'.
However, I've come to believe there is a big difference between our reputation and our character, and one does not necessarily equal the other. While I certainly can't speak about everyone, I've seen people care so much about their reputation that they are willing to damage their character in order to protect their reputation in the eyes of others.
I'm talking about the businessman who is more concerned with maintaining his reputation of integrity in the business world than his own personal integrity with his wife and family. Or the lawyer who is so concerned with maintaining a reputation of consistent victories at trial that he compromises his ethics to win. Or the socialite who spends away savings to maintain a fashionable reputation of having the latest and greatest cars, clothes, and gadgets.
I think most of us would admit to being concerned about our reputationâthe way others see us. However, here's an interesting thought: are we more concerned with how others see us, or how others see God because of us?
For God's glory
God placed humankind on the earth to bring him glory. However, the fundamental deception that humanity accepted was that we could be like God.
When the serpent tempted Adam and Eve to eat of the Tree of Knowledge, something changed. Humankind went from being content as creations designed to bring God glory, to self-conscious and self-centred individuals. In wanting to be like God, we now seek the approval, the accolades, and the worship of others. Our reputation seems like the biggest credential we possess.
Thankfully, God sent an example of the perfect human being: fully human in every way, a part of our broken and messy physical world, surrounded by selfish people; but perfect in character.
Jesus Christ came to the earth and forever changed the way people related to God. Jesus wasn't perfect in order to impress others. He was perfect in order to draw people to God.
Paul writes about this mindset in his letter to the Philippians:
Jesus Christ, who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to deathâeven death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
This shows us how Jesus saw his reputation, and I believe it teaches us how we should see our reputation. As disciples of Christ, Jesus calls us to further the reputationâor the gloryâof God.
Jesus simply chose to further his Father's reputation. There is no doubt in my mind that the God of the universe is much more interested in the character that we are developing and not the reputation that we are trying to maintain. Why? Because our purpose in this life is to emanate godly character, so that our Father's reputation spreads through all the earth.
Blaine Packer is a graduate of Worldview Centre for Intercultural Studies who is passionate about media and mission. Currently residing in Launceston, Tasmania, Blaine is involved in both media and local ministry work at Door of Hope Christian Church.
Blaine Packer's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/blaine-packer.html