Proverbs 22:1 (NLT)
Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold.
If I were to meet with 10-20 people outside of your family who know you or have regular dealings with you…what would they say about you? Are you known as a kind and loving person people can count on? Would they say you are a good listener, compassionate, and trustworthy? Would they say you have a reputation for being honest and reliable…or would it go in the opposite direction?
A reputation is built over time as others evaluate our life choices and determine who we are based on how we behave. While we don’t like the idea of being judged – a term the culture likes to bludgeon us with – the fact is that we are always “judging” each other as a way of determining who is trustworthy…and who is not. This is exactly how your reputation is built; one decision and action (or inaction) at a time. We tend to go to people that have a generally good reputation rather than gravitating towards people with a bad one.
As Christians, our number one priority or “job” is to accurately represent Christ to the world, both in word and in deed (Acts 1:8). In fact, the Bible identifies us as Ambassadors of Christ (2 Cor. 5:20) who are commanded to imitate him in every aspect of our lives…both in private and in public (Eph. 5:1). Because Jesus is honest, kind, loyal, and honorable, we should strive to be those things as well, and all of those qualities contribute to a good reputation. People evaluate the worthiness of our message based on our reputations as people of character. If we have poor reputations, our message is tainted as well. Like the old saying goes…Your actions speak so loudly I can’t hear a word of what you are saying!
There are times when our reputations are tarnished through no fault of our own. Gossip, slander, and lies can cast a shadow over the most stellar of reputations…and those kinds of attacks will surely come if you are openly living for Christ. This is not a call to be a man-pleaser while trying to curry favor. This proverb is a clarion call to live out your profession of faith with integrity, and in doing so, it will bring far greater rewards on earth and in Heaven than great riches ever could!