The Weekly Epistle 8/30/23

Hi Church Family,
It has been said that “reputation is what is chiseled on your tombstone.  Character is what the angels say about you before the throne of God.”
Does our reputation matter?  Does it matter what others say or think about us?  So, should we care about our reputation?  In the list of qualifications for eldership, it says that the candidate, “Must also have a good reputation with outsiders” (1 Timothy 3:7).  In this case, a bad reputation with unbelievers can disqualify a person from serving as an elder.  This seems to speak to the character of a person in that non-Christians may have a different take on the character of the prospective elder than the church.  But the emphasis here is on the character of the person.  
There is a sense in which we should try to maintain a good reputation.  Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name (reputation) is to be more desired than great wealth, favor is better than silver and gold.”  In Ecclesiastes 7:1 it says, “A good reputation is more valuable than costly perfume.”

A reputation is built on the judgment of others.  If we wanted someone to watch our house and gave them a key to our house while we were away, we would most likely choose someone with a good reputation.  So, reputation matters.  We should strive to earn a good reputation.  As Christians, we are to represent Jesus to the lost world.  People will judge the worthiness of our message based on our reputation as people of character.  
However, there may be times when our reputations are tarnished by no fault of our own.  Others could spread lies about us or we may be falsely accused or misunderstood or unfairly labeled because of our faith.  When this happens, we may not be able to protect our reputation, but we can still keep our integrity.  Character matters!  
If others think worse of us or if someone unfairly damages our reputation, then we may not be able to make that right, but instead will need to trust God to vindicate us in the end.  
John Piper put it this way, “It is better to be thought worse than you are now and have the Lord set things right in the last day, than to be thought better than you are now, only to have Jesus put you in your place in the end.”
Peter in his first epistle had a lot to say about responding to mistreatment.  He says, “For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men” (2:15). The only thing in our control is doing good.  Later on in that same chapter, in following Jesus’ example, we are to, “Entrust ourselves to him who judges justly,” (2:23).  
I leave you with one more verse.  It is found in 1 Thessalonians.  “We urge you, brothers, to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders” (4:10-12).  
Speaking of 1 Thessalonians, we will begin our next sermon series this coming Sunday on “Vital Signs,” to check our own health as a church.  I am looking forward to our time in this book.  Hope to see you Sunday!
Blessings, Pastor Brian