A very unpleasant incident involving a leading horse race trainer has been in the news over the last few days. He has now been banned for a year and faces a very uncertain future in the ‘sport’. I was particularly struck by the comment of another trainer who said that his father had taught him that a good reputation takes a lifetime to build but a moment to destroy.
The Bible speaks a lot about our reputation – for instance: Proverbs 22v1 – “A good name is more desirable than great riches”; Matthew 5v16 – “let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven”; 1 Timothy 3v7 – “[The overseer / elder] must …. have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap”.
A fascinating reference is in 2 Corinthians 8 where Paul describes a brother “who is praised by all the churches for his service to the gospel” (v18) – yet he doesn’t name him! In contrast the Lord gives a devastating diagnosis of the church in Sardis: “you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead” (Revelation 3v1).
In a truly God-honouring sense, are our reputations intact? Paul stated in Acts 24v16 “I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man”. Tragically, however, if we succumb to temptation – even momentarily – its apparent offer of ‘magic’ may lead to a lifetime of ‘misery’.
What are we to do with our tarnished, even in-tatters, reputations? How wonderful it is – and this is the glorious good news of Christianity – that we can come to the Lord Jesus Christ who “made Himself of no reputation” and “became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2v7,8 KJV). If we truly repent, God promises to forgive us – and Christians remain robed in Christ’s righteousness which fully covers our ruined reputations. In fact, because He made Himself of no reputation, we receive the greatest ever reputation, being called sons and daughters of the living God. Nevertheless we must seek, with the Holy Spirit’s help, to avoid those moments of ‘madness’ which can seriously impair our Christian witness and service here on earth.
Peace and Grace