By Pr Isaiah White
Hope Olson wrote: “A man who wants to impress a woman may hide some aspects of an unpleasant character from her, or temporarily subdue them without any intention of lasting change. Though he may fool you, it is unlikely that he will fool everyone with whom he has contact.
Therefore, it is wise to pay attention to what other people say about a man whom you are getting to know, particularly people who have known him before your acquaintance with him.
A man’s reputation may either confirm good character that you have observed or reveal problem areas that you have missed.”
What is a reputation?
There could be various definitions of the term ‘reputation’ and it might attract different understandings from particular groups of people, but here is what some of the definitions might share in common.
In summary, a reputation is what you are characteristically known for. It is a social evaluation by the public towards a person, a group of people, or organization.
A reputation is not an outside-inside but an inside-outside business. This means is that your reputation comes from the way you present yourself.
You are the commander of the reputation the public attaches to your name.
For the pubic to tag you, it depends on the way you have presented yourself. Every reputation has two significant elements that constitute it; Identity and Image.
Identity is who you know/think you are and an image is how you project that identity. One‘s reputation is derived from that very projection.
How you repute yourself is the name you establish in the public for yourself.
Reputation in the Bible.
In the word of God, a reputation is one of the many lessons we are taught. The Bible says in Proverbs 22:1: “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches and loving favour rather than silver and gold.”
The Hebrew word for name is ‘Shem’ and one of its meanings is reputation. In other words, we are taught that it is one’s good name (good reputation) that matters more than any other thing in social life.
In the early Church, we are told that for one to be appointed as a church elder, a good reputation was prerequisite (1Timothy 3:2, 7, 5:9-10). Reputation was not just for Church, but even how they were known in the public.
Cornelius (Acts 10:22), Timothy (Acts 16:1-2), and Ananias of Damascus (Acts 22:12) are reported in Scripture as men whose reputation spoke for itself.
When in Jerusalem (reported about in Acts chapters 2-6), when the Apostles wanted to appoint leadership for food distribution among a different ethnic group of believers, they advised that the seven men to be chosen must be men of a good reputation (Acts 6:3).
A manufactured reputation
What I mean by a ‘manufactured reputation’ is that since a reputation is that important, some sinners have mastered the art of projecting to the public a good name yet in essence and identity they are not as good as they project.
Jesus reminded us of such a manufactured reputation when He warned in Luke 6:26: “Woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you! For in the same manner did their fathers to the false prophets.”
In the New Testament, the original word in Greek for a good reputation is martureó, meaning to give a good testimony. It has been a culture in our generation for antagonistic people to use the media to market themselves as good people.
This is what I call a manufactured reputation; it is not who that person is but how the marketplace (media and other beneficiaries) has presented him. Jesus warned us about such a reputation that has a label of “made in or made by” but not actually who you.
It is a hypocritical reputation and if you know you are not the person who the public says you are, then you are guilty and called to repent such a manufactured reputation.
A reputation is the original you. And it is ethical to live an original lifestyle. However, here is the challenge when you live an original lifestyle, not all people will appreciate you nor agree with you but some will. But if you choose the ethical way, you will be saved from a Pharisee-like unethical and hypocritical way of living.
Here is what our Lord said: “Therefore whatever they tell you to observe that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.” For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they ‘themselves’ will not move them with one of their fingers (Mathew 23:3-4 NKJ).