[April 4]--A Name You Can Trust

Prov. 22:1; 3:3-4

What’s the most valuable asset a company or corporation has? Its money in bank accounts? Its employees? Its CEO’s? No. The most valuable asset which a company possesses is its good name, or its reputation. Think about it for a moment. A few years ago, Enron was one of the hottest stocks on the market, and everyone predicted it was going to be profitable for years to come. But then word got out about irregular (unethical and illegal) accounting practices, and overnight you couldn’t give the stock away. Every company wants to be known as the one that values its customers and pleases them. It also wants a reputation for honesty and integrity. Once a company loses that reputation, it’s done.

Of course, Solomon knew the value of a good reputation thousands of years ago. In fact, he understood this specific truth: “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” What’s true on the “macro” level (corporations and national governments) is also true on the “micro” level. Christians should have the best reputations for honesty, self-sacrificing love, and personal morality. I wish it was always so.

But wait a minute. Didn’t Jesus pronounce a blessing on us if we don’t have a good reputation? Yes, he did: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.” He also said that as his followers we can expect slander: “The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!”

We can expect slander against us. For example, if you publicly proclaim anything less than a ringing endorsement of the homosexual lifestyle, much less the biblical message about it, then you can count the seconds before you’re called a “homophobe.” If you actually tell people—out of love—about the reality of Hell, then you can expect to be called “narrow minded” or guilty of “hate speech.” Quite frankly, if those are the worst things you’re accused of, then you’re probably getting off light.

So how should we approach this? Well, there are a few points that might clear up any confusion. First, we need to pay very close attention to what Jesus was saying: He said we're blessed if people slander us for his sake. He said that we should aspire to be called "Beelzebul" (another name for the Devil) because we're associated with him. If someone says something bad about us, it should only be because we're associated with him, acting as he acted, and because we're faithfully proclaiming his word to a world that doesn't want to hear it. If someone says something bad about us, it should not--it should never--be because the accusation is just. If the world says "all kinds of evil" about us, it better be because they're falsely saying evil about us.

Second, I look at a good name like money. Remember what we said about material wealth? It’s important, but there are things that are much higher on our priority list. Speaking the truth in love, for example. Our first and foremost priority is to please and honor our Father.

Third, and this sort of continues the parallel of reputation and money, how much we have of either is not really our concern; it’s our Father’s. I’m going to concentrate on being a good steward of the wealth he places in my hands, whether it’s $1 or a million. It’s the same with a good name. I’m going to focus on what I’m called to do. Proverbs tells me to put “love and faithfulness around [my] neck.” In other words, I’m going to cultivate and value love (or “mercy”) and being faithful to the commitments which my Father's placed upon me. Then I’ll let my Father worry about my reputation. Makes sense?

Lord Jesus, when I think about how you were slandered, and then realize how much I’m snared by the fear of men, I’m shamed. Please forgive me. Not to me O Lord, not to me but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.

No comments:

Post a Comment