One thing parents often preach to their children is the importance of protecting their reputations. I am one of those and have preached that to my children many times. But recently I heard my preaching regurgitated to me by one of my sons and a glaring omission was revealed to me.
But before I go there, a little background is needed.
A friend of my son recently did something uncharacteristic and inconsistent with the Christian values of my son and his friend. My son confronted the friend and explained how important it is to protect one’s reputation. He explained that once a reputation is tarnished, it is very difficult to restore and sometimes impossible. He then encouraged his friend to stop the conduct and to reconsider whether to continue hanging out with those who encouraged the conduct.
I won’t take the time to repeat every word he said, but that was the gist. I must confess that I was very proud of my son for how he responded to his friend (not to mention being awestruck with his repeating so much of what I have told him over the years, when I was not sure he was even listening ).
Lesson One: They listen even when they don’t show it.
But now for the glaring omission reveal . . .
I’m sure many will interject here a hearty
But before readying the tar and feathers, let me explain.
Hearing my son talk about the importance of reputation, I realized that reputation in isolation puts an undo value on the perception of others. And caring so much about what others think can lead a believer down a very worldly path.
For example, if a child is overly concerned about what others think of him or her, then the quest for popularity and acceptance might lead the child to behavior inconsistent with Christian values, such as drinking, drugs, harmful friendships, promiscuity, etc. This is because the world’s values are not God’s values. If we teach our children to please the world, we are teaching them the wrong standard and overvaluing the perception of their peers.
So, am I calling for Christians to ignore their reputations?
I don’t give a damn ’bout my reputation.
You’re living in the past, it’s a new generation.
A girl can do what she wants to do, and that’s what I’m gonna do.
-Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, excerpt from “Bad Reputation”
Everyone should be concerned with protecting their reputations, and it remains very important to me that my children protect their reputations.
But not for reputations’ sake.
Instead, a Christian should be focused on doing what is right in the eyes of the Lord.
Christians should not have a good reputation because they are striving to please the world; rather they should have a good reputation because they are living in obedience to Christ.
Lesson Two: It’s about living in obedience to Christ.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
For a Christian, reputation should be about integrity and character and not about mere perception. One shouldn’t do something (or refrain from doing something) simply out of concern over what others will think. Instead, a Christian should focus on doing what is right out of love for God and desire to obey His commands, not out of desire to please the world.
And here is the rub . . . . doing what is right with God will not always please the world. One might be labeled many negative things when standing on the Word of God. A Christian’s reputation might be tarnished with the world when he says, “No!” while the world is screaming, “Yes!”
If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.
And that is where one’s reputation with the world is unimportant. What is important is one’s reputation with God.
So, when teaching children about reputation, take care to explain to them that they shouldn’t do (or refrain from doing) something simply to protect their reputations with their peers; rather they should focus on doing what is right and pleasing to God. And THAT is the reputation they should desire from their peers. If a Christian pleases God, his reputation will vary with the world, but that is the reputation a Christian should want with the world–i.e., a God-fearing person who lives out the love of Christ AND obeys His commands.
© 2016 THEDADDYBLITZ