Maintaining A Good Reputation

The majority of people desire to have a good reputation among their friends and neighbors. This is only natural and certainly not harmful in itself. However, all of us have observed individuals who become so concerned with what others think of them, that they compromise their real feelings and even their convictions in order to maintain that reputation. Such people not only lose their individuality and initiative, but usually wind up disgusted with themselves and everybody else.

The apostle Paul tells us to make every effort to live peaceably with all men (Romans 12:18). But he certainly did not mean for us to surrender any principle of truth to achieve this end. When the apostle Peter surrendered his convictions in Antioch in order to "get along" with the Jews, we remember that he was guilty of hypocrisy and "stood condemned" (Galatians 2:11-14). This example demonstrates how impossible it sometimes becomes to have a good standing in the eyes of others and at the same time remain true to the Lord.

You will recall that prior to beginning His public ministry, Jesus was said to be "in favor with God and man" (Luke 2:52). But when He began to preach the truth, Hemet increasing opposition. Yes, He had a good reputation to begin with. But His life ended on the cruel cross amid charges of usurpation and blasphemy - all because He refused to yield to the demands of public opinion.

In the very beginning of its existence, we learn that the church was "having favor with all the people" (Acts 2:47). But in very short order, violent persecution was poured out against it. By the time Paul arrived in Rome to face the emperor, the reputation of the church was as a "sect everywhere spoken against" (Acts 28:22). The cause for such change in the reputation status of the church is quite obvious. As the gospel was spread more widely, more opposition was encountered. When the church failed to surrender to such opposition and continued to boldly proclaim the truth, down when their "good reputation."

From these facts it is evident that we cannot order our actions merely to please men and, at the same time, be acceptable to God. Yet, we have occasion to see Christians courting the acceptance of their unbelieving neighbors by condoning and actually partaking with them in their worldly practices. The leadership of local congregations have been known to suppress teaching on certain "sensitive" and controversial moral or doctrinal issues. All of this is done in the name of avoiding criticism and securing the good will of the world.

Remember that Jesus said, "Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! For so did their fathers to the false prophets" (Luke 6:26).

Faithful Christians, faithful congregations and faithful preachers need to be more concerned about what the Lord thinks of them than with what reputation they are held in the eyes of mankind. One minor concession made to the world on behalf of a better reputation invariably leads to the necessity of another, and another, and another. At last such compromise robs individuals of spirituality and congregations of their zeal and purity.

We need to be busy about the Master's business without respect to the shifting opinions of the world. If we are doing His will, we can rest assured that we shall not always maintain a good report. We shall be persecuted, reviled, and misrepresented. But while compromisers are courting the good will and praise of the world, we shall be endeavoring to maintain the favor of our loving Father. And, brethren, our efforts will not be in vain!