Next to the value of your eternal soul, your most valuable asset is your reputation, your good name. “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches.” Proverbs 22:1
Let’s distinguish between character and reputation. Character is moral vigor or firmness acquired by self-discipline. Some non Christians have character and some do not. Though all Christians ought to have character; shamefully, some do not. Christian character comes from spending much time in God’s Word learning to know God and walk with Him. Though I learned academics at Bob Jones University, the most important thing I learned there was the importance of character. I learned not just how to make a living, but more importantly, how to live. You can borrow brains, but you can’t borrow character. Your character is what God knows you to be. On the other hand, your reputation is how you are regarded by others.
Though character is foundational, our reputation is also important.
Many young people do not believe this and the reason they don’t is because they have not lived long enough to learn the value of it. Most young people, as well as older people, are far more concerned about being popular or being rich. I’ll agree it is nice to be popular and it is great to be rich, but not at the expense of losing your name and your reputation.
I don’t begrudge any one wealth or popularity. I only warn that if you have to sacrifice your name and your reputation to attain it, you have gained nothing and will end up being disappointed.
When you lose your wealth, you can recover if you still have your name and reputation. If you lose your popularity because you stood for that which is right, you can still be successful in life. If you lose your health, you still have a chance to fully recover. On the other hand, if you lose your good name, you’ve suffered a loss from which you may never recover.
It’s Your choice!
Proverbs 22:1 tells us that it is a matter of choice. Every choice you make takes you in one direction or another. Going deeply into debt by buying things you can’t afford is a matter of bad choices that can lead to stress and financial ruin. Speeding and driving recklessly to impress your friends in order to gain popularity is a choice you make that leads to accidents, speeding tickets, law suits, jail time or even the morgue. Ultimately it leads to a bad name. Drinking, gambling, getting involved with pornography or taking drugs also lead to disease, disaster and dishonor from which you may never fully recover. Illicit sex leads to the possibility of disease, pregnancy, and the loss of your good name. All of these things are not only an offense to our holy God, but they are as foolish as playing Russian roulette.
What if you’ve already ruined it?
Perhaps you have already lost your good name. What can you do about it? One thing for sure, you can’t reverse the damage that has already happened. You may be healed, but you can’t get ride of the scars. They stay with you for life. If you turn to God and ask Him to save you and take control of your life He will hear and answer your prayer. God will take the chipped, damaged diamond of your life and will remake of you a new cut diamond; perhaps a little smaller, but still a diamond. In Joel 2:25 God promises Israel, “I will restore to you the years that the locusts have eaten..”
Remember in Luke 15 the story Jesus told of the prodigal son? That son had wandered away from his father and had sacrificed his name and reputation for the things he thought would make him popular Instead he ended up with his inheritance squandered and living in a pig pen eating the pig’s slop; but in that pig pen he woke up and came to himself. He returned to his father, hoping to at least get a minimum wage job as a servant. Instead his father graciously and lovingly restored him to his status as his son. His inheritance was gone, but at least he enjoyed the love, peace, joy and daily provision as his father’s son.
There is still hope.
If you’ve already lost your good name, I encourage you to come to Jesus right now and confess your sin and failure. God will forgive your sin and cleanse you and restore you to Himself. He will give you another opportunity to live for Him and serve Him; perhaps not in the capacity that you could have served, but He can still use you if you are humbled and willing to be used in whatever capacity He has for you.
But to you young people who are just starting out in life, I challenge you to surrender yourself to God. He has a wonderful plan for your life. Guard your good name and reputation. Guard your relationship with God. Don’t allow sin to break that fellowship. Ask God for wisdom concerning the decisions you make. He will give you that wisdom if you seek for it from His Word with all your heart.
Look who gave up His reputation for you!
Before I leave this topic of reputation, consider Jesus; the spotless, sinless Son of God. When He walked this earth no one could convict Him of sin. He lived a pure, sinless life and then willingly went to the cross to die to pay the penalty for our sins.
Philippians 2:6-10 tells us that Jesus “Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him and given Him a name that is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow.” Thank God that Jesus was willing to leave the glories of Heaven and be of no reputation by coming to this earth and dying for our sins, “that we may be blameless and harmless sons and daughters of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom we shine as lights in the world.” Philippians 2:15