Does your reputation reach others before you reach them?

Documentation Published on Friday, 03 June 2022

Does your reputation reach others before you reach them? Do not let your reputation be a negative one

Do not let your reputation be a negative one

Judas, the one who would betray Jesus. This is how this man was known, described by all four of the writers of the gospels. It is almost as if he was never really given a fair chance. Of course, we know that the writers wrote their accounts after all had happened and they knew the facts.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines the word reputation as the opinion that people in general have about someone or something, or how much respect or admiration someone or something receives, based on past behaviour or character. The Bible refers to a good reputation quite often. Here are two verses that stand out:

1A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold. – Proverbs 22:1
1A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one's birth. – Ecclesiastes 7:1

The Word clearly teaches that a good name, a good reputation, is more desirable than having a lot of money or ointment. To be favoured by others because you can be trusted, is worth far more than precious metals. A reputation is built up over time and it defines the type of person you are, given a situation. As we learnt with the fruit of the Spirit, a good reputation represents those areas that God deems important – love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance (Galatians 5:22-23, as described by Paul). Then, there are also virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, kindness, and charity (2 Peter 1:5-7, as described by Peter).

Think about your reputation for a moment. Maybe you find it difficult to pin down what reputation you have. What do people think of you? Are you known in your circles as a troublemaker to be avoided, or someone who walks a straight and narrow path and can be depended on? Paul tells Timothy to look out for people who have a good reputation, should they desire the position of bishop (and elder in the church). Along with all the requirements, they should have a good reputation:

7Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. – 1 Timothy 3:7

Thus, a person who desires to be a bishop, apart from the requirements stated in 1 Timothy 3:2-6, must be well-spoken of by those which are “without” – those outside the church. If others have a good report about you, they value your reputation as being positive. Paul is clear that this good report is very important, otherwise there is a good chance that this person could be criticised for not doing his work (reproach) and become trapped by the devil.

Paul continues his advice to Timothy to appoint people that will strengthen the church, and these must be people with a good reputation. Read what he tells him about the reputation of women in the church:

9Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man, 10Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work. – 1 Timothy 5:9

Look at the title of this week’s lesson: Does your reputation reach others before you reach them? News travels fast around the workplace. Long before you reach others, they may already know a lot about you, whether this is through gossip or not. It is simply typical of society. Gossiping about others and the things they are, or do, makes many people feel better about themselves. It is therefore critical that your reputation is beyond questioning. Once people have made up their minds about you, even if it is only based on false gossip, it becomes so much harder to prove them wrong.

How do you prevent your reputation from being a negative one? Simply focus on the Word and God’s requirements of you to lead a virtuous life. If you live a Spirit-filled life, there cannot be any negative reputation. Be light. Be salt. Be an example of Godly living. If there are areas in your life that you know are not positive, or can be negatively perceived by others, ask the Holy Spirit to help you change. Often what we do or say is not wrong in its intention, it just may come across in a way that others do not experience positively.

We need to remember that we as Christians represent Jesus Christ on Earth. We should thus always consider how He would have acted in each situation:

1Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour. – Ephesians 5:1-2

In another translation the word followers is given as imitators. Indeed, we should be imitating Jesus’ way of living. Jesus’ life showed integrity, living out what He preached. Integrity means that what we say and do, match. People tend to cling to those whose yes is their yes, and their no is their no. It is best summed up by Jesus, as recorded by Matthew:

37But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.Matthew 5:37

What do you do when you realise you are being slandered by others, who are determined to undermine the good that you do? Be not like them, but you continue doing what is right. Our challenge as Christian believers today is to continue living godly lives among those who have either never heard the gospel or have turned away from the truth. In addition, the trend of our time is to ridicule that which is correct and make that which is wrong the standard. The Word explains this for us, and tells what the outcome will be for those who do it:

20Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! – Isaiah 5:20


Work on your reputation every day, not through the folly of the world, but through the wisdom found in God’s Word.

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