A Reputation Not Your Own

“Grow up!”

Back in the first century, the apostle Paul wrote a really long letter to the church in Corinth. If I had to sum up the sixteen chapters in two words, I’d say he was telling them to Grow Up. He addressed a variety of specific errors the church was making, but many of them involved conflict between church members. Between brothers and sisters, as it were.

Poor Paul. It seems he had to tell churches to stop squabbling almost as much as I did my kids. I’ve talked before about one such apostolic chew-out.

Tarnish: It's ugly, folks.

Tarnish: It’s ugly, folks.

In chapter 6 of this letter, Paul addresses the folly of asking the secular court to judge grievances between believers –“saints,” as Christ-followers are also known. I can hear the exasperation in his voice: “Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases?” (verse 2).

He goes on to show that even having angry civil disputes already constitutes defeat for the brothers. Partly because one believer is wronging another. But I think the greater defeat lies in the combatants not acting like Jesus’ followers. I mean, if we believers don’t show each other a little grace and unconditional love, how will a lost world know we are Jesus’ disciples?

Worse, if we publicly claim to follow Christ and then defraud and fight with each other, we risk giving Jesus a bad name in the eyes of the watching world. See, if I act like a jerk, I’ll tarnish my own reputation. But if I go around telling everyone I follow Jesus, and then act like a jerk, some people are bound to reject Jesus because of me. I will have put myself in the unenviable position of damaging someone else’s reputation along with my own.

As near as I can figure, tarnishing the perfect reputation of God’s son is part of what God meant when he said, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.”

It is worth noting that none of this is Jesus’ fault. He told us and told us to love each other.

If you’re a believer rescued by Jesus, can we agree to give his reputation a higher priority than merely having our own way?

Besides, showing love for other people is just flat-out more fun.

I welcome your comments–there’s space for you at the bottom of this post!

Thanks for reading,
Jan

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9 Responses to A Reputation Not Your Own

  1. mrs. spike says:

    I wonder constantly if people think I’m a hypocrite when they find out I’m a Christian. My lifestyle is wholesome enough, but I am very free in what I say and believe. But I won’t water down who I am [anymore] for fear that someone will take offense. “He who has ears,” Christ said. At heart of His gospel, the hearer is charged with taking responsibility for what’s being said. If their heart is primed by the Spirit, they will hear the message and it will sink it. If their heart isn’t open, it doesn’t matter what is said or how, they won’t hear it.

    Like

    • You’re so right that “the hearer is charged with taking responsibility for what’s being said.” And watering anything down makes it less real. So, yeah, I’m trying to balance tact with boldness.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts here.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. jodyo70 says:

    Jan, there was a post on Facebook by a friend/author/blogger the other day on a subject with which I disagree. But she’s a believer and people blasted her….Didn’t discuss it with her, ask questions to understand, just chewed her out. It was awful. Your words here are very timely.
    Think I’ll share them on Facebook. Awesome job!

    Like

  3. Such a good post. I think we have to have wisdom in how we speak – are we speaking in love or to prove a point? Are we speaking to further the gospel or ourselves? James warned us of the power of the tongue and I think we should heed his wisdom!

    Like

  4. marlece says:

    I just had this conversation with my oldest. He was at lineman school and there was a ‘self proclaiming Christian’ telling ALL, Layton said he was the biggest (excuse my french)ass in the bunch. Finally Layton told him, “Hey, why don’t you ACT like Christ rather than tell us you are, you are giving Jesus a bad name.” So, I’d say, ‘actions speak bigger than words’. We can tell someone how much we love them to the moon and back but if we don’t ACT like it then the words go null and void.

    Love ya, Janice.

    Like

    • Props to Layton for pointing out the “elephant in the room.” I hope his words helped both the “ass” and the others who were listening!

      On Fri, Mar 6, 2015 at 8:38 AM, Joywriting: Everybody Has a Story wrote:

      >

      Like

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