What kind of reputation do you have? Does it matter to you? Some today seem to feel, “I don’t care what people think of me.” However, the Bible says, “He [a spiritual leader] must also have a good reputation with outsiders” (1 Tim. 3:7). Solomon reminds us, “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold” (Prov. 22:1).
A good name—one’s reputation—is better than great riches, and it is also a prerequisite for church leadership. A good reputation is essential. We should be concerned with what people think of us.
A good reputation isn’t built overnight. Like a building, a reputation has to be put up brick by brick—one day, one action at a time. We must guard it carefully.
What was Paul’s counsel about reputation? In 1 Timothy 5, he counseled young widows to give the enemy no opportunity for slander. He also made another very important point about reputation, saying that he cared very little if he was judged by any human court; indeed, he did not even judge himself. His conscience was clear, but that did not make him innocent. It is the Lord who judges us. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of our hearts. Ultimately Paul recog - nized that his reputation before God was the most important of all. Yes, we must guard our reputations, but above all, we must remember that God knows our hearts. He sees who we really are.
You may work your whole life to be known as a good citizen, a good family member, or a good church leader. Even if you somehow achieve this goal, the opinion of others matters far less than God’s evaluation. God looks be - neath your exterior and sees you for who you really are.
You may come to church every week with a smile, and everyone may believe you are a good Christian, but if, when you go home, you are rude to your spouse, look at pornography, or ig - nore the needy in your community, God knows. It doesn’t matter if the church thinks you’re the greatest Christian in the world; what matters is what God thinks of you. He knows if you’re really a patient person. He knows if you’re loving and forgiving. He hears your thoughts and words. He knows who you really are. The crucial question is: What is your reputation with God? Does God know you as a forgiving person or a slanderer? Kind or rude? Concerned about others or caring only about yourself? Brilliant or compassionate?
Ellen G. White says, “Mental ability and genius are not character, for these are often possessed by those who have the very opposite of a good character. Reputation is not character. True character is a quality of the soul, revealing itself in the conduct” (My Life Today, 267).
And how does our reputation reflect on God? Does our character burnish or tarnish God’s repu - tation? The Lord has a reputation to uphold—as a God of mercy and a God of grace who keeps His word. God has a reputation for being faithful, loving, merciful, and dependable. He is known as the Savior of sinners, a God of grace. He will up - hold His reputation through all generations. But will those who know that we are Christians be - lieve God is faithful, loving, gracious, and merci - ful? Is this the picture of God that we exemplify? Do we safeguard both our own reputation and God’s?
Jonas Arrais General Conference Associate Ministerial Secretary