Summary: This message focuses on how our Reputations (both Spiritual and Natural) impact thieves of our children.
Our Children Walk Through Our Reputations
Someone said that the apple does not fall too far from the tree. Keep this in mind as I will come back to this statement when I close.
If you could give your children anything of value that would last them a life time – what would you give them? Would you give them money? Would you give them a great education? Would you give them a home that is totally paid for? What would you give them? I ask you this question because I have a suggestion. The title of my message this morning is “Our Children Walk Through Our Reputation.” My suggestion is that we make this walk for them as easy and peaceful as possible so that they might do the same for their children. To do this we must guard both our natural and our spiritual reputations.
Several weeks ago I delivered a message to you titled: "Our Reputations Precedes Us." In that message I told you how people will form opinions about us based on what they have heard about us long before they ever meet us. I told you that oftentimes people will think they know us based on what they have heard about us. This applies to us in the natural and in the spiritual realm. In that message I used the story of Samson to illustrate how we have formed an opinion of what he looked like even though the Bible never described him. Our opinion of what he looked like is based solely on the strength that he demonstrated when the Spirit of the Lord came upon him. As I told you in that message, Samson could have looked very average versus the muscle bound man that we think of when we think about him. When I discussed the spiritual aspect of our reputation I used the story of the seven sons of Sceva. They tried to cast a demonic spirit out of a man using the name of Jesus “whom Paul was preaching about.” They did not have a relationship with Jesus and therefore they could not cast out the demonic spirit. They were beaten and sent away naked by the man who had the demonic spirit. When I concluded that message I asked you what your natural reputation was and if your spiritual reputation was one in which God knew He could count on you. I asked if you were known spiritually as someone God knew could be trusted with an assignment and that the assignment would be completed as given.
This morning I want you to consider the fact that our children must walk through our reputations – whether they are good or bad. Whatever we are “known” for is ever present before the eyes of our children. While it would be nice to think that they have a choice about whether they have to walk through our reputations or not, in reality initially they do not. They have to live with what others think about us. As it pertains to our spiritual reputations, they, better than anyone, will be able to see if what we show folks on Sunday is what we are on Monday – at home. Believe it or not, our children are keenly aware of what our spiritual reputations are and if God can count on us. Privately our children see how much time we “possibly” spend praying and studying God’s word. They see how much importance we put on understanding and having a relationship with God. From this they are able to make determinations about how important God really is in our lives and how important they should make Him in THEIR lives! The worst thing we can do to our children from a spiritual perspective is to be one way at Church and another outside of Church. We all make mistakes and must live through them, but I am talking about a contradictory lifestyle. But let me start with how our natural reputation impacts our children. Turn with me to the tenth chapter of Ecclesiastes.
I. A Fool’s Reputation
“Dead flies make a perfumer’s oil stink, so a little foolishness is weightier than wisdom and honor. A wise man’s heart directs him towards the right, but the foolish man’s heart directs him toward the left. Even when the fool walks along the road, his sense is lacking and he demonstrates to everyone that he is a fool.”
Among the Jews, oil rendered fragrant by being mixed with precious drugs was used for many different purposes. With it priests and kings were anointed when they entered upon their offices. It was used medicinally for outward application to the bodies of the sick, or with it corpses and the clothes in which they were wrapped were besprinkled before burial. Great care was needed in the preparation of the material used for such special purposes. Elaborately confected as the ointment was, it was easily spoiled and rendered worthless. For this reason it was necessary not only to take great pains in making it, but also in preserving it from contamination when made. If the vase or bottle in which it was in was accidentally left open, its contents might soon be destroyed. A dead fly would soon corrupt the ointment, and turn it into a pestilent odor. In verses two and three we find the contrast between the wise and the foolish man. In these verses the use of the terms right or left has nothing to do with our modern use of these terms to label political liberals or conservatives. This basically says that wisdom and folly go in two opposite directions. In the ancient world, right symbolized power, honor, authority and strength (Genesis 48:18; Isaiah 41:10). Left represented the opposite – weakness or even evil. The verses are saying that the wise man’s heart, his understanding and sentiment, lead him to what is right, while the fools heart leads him astray. What is so interesting is that in verse three it talks about the foolish man’s actions being very public. In other words, because of the way he acts everyone knows that he is a fool. His foolishness is not hidden or in secret, it is very public for all to see. Now imagine if you will if you were the child of that foolish man. What would your life be like?