Summary: Our Reputation
Reputation is defined as the estimation in which a person or thing is commonly held. In other words, it is what others believe about you based on the actions that you have or believed to have done. When I was growing up in the small town of Columbia, TN, everywhere I went people knew who I was. Those were the days when you could be across town, get into trouble and your parents knew about it before you got home. The neighbors, distant relatives and the stranger on the street knew who you were or what family you were apart of. You were known by your family, you had a reputation based on your family history.
Sometimes your reputation was based on absolute false information. Now if this was not bad enough, you also had the “look” of the family. I was always called by my mother’s maiden name because I looked more like her than my father. With that came all of the expectations, some good, some not so good, based on which side of my mother’s family the referring party knew. All of us have had similar situations, where someone looks at you and immediately knows who you are based on what you look like. Then you hear the statement “You sure do look like…” Once you get past that, then you become know by something else – what you do with your life, both spiritually and in the secular world.
I will spend my time dealing with the spiritual side. But, I need to give you a reference point. When you meet someone for the first time and you get past the initial introductions, what is the next question that you are asked? “What do you do?” With this question people size you up while making a comparison to them. In that short amount of time they decide if you are worth their time, if you are on the same or higher level than they are. Next they’ll ask what your spouse does. In our secular world, we become known by what we do for a living – it sets us apart. You lose your previous identity of being your parent’s child to becoming the VP, the Business manager, the Director or in the case of Prince, the artist with a sign. But you become known by what you do, not who you believe yourself to be. We start living the role based on who we’re perceived to be. Is this wrong? Which is more important – your belief of who you are or your actions that people judge?
Let’s look at how your actions develop into a reputation and how that reputation becomes who you are.
• Judas. Do you immediately think about the disciple who betrayed Jesus? Do you remember that he also healed some people and cast out devils during his time of walking with Jesus? The good cease to exist from memory.
• John Wilkes Booth. He was a famous actor who assassinated President Lincoln. Do you think anyone remembers any plays he starred in? His reputation is sealed.
• Peter. He denied Christ three times. He ate with the Gentiles but in the presence of the Jews he separated himself. Did you know that? Maybe not. Why? Because in the actions that he did early in life overshadowed his later actions.
Our actions, what we do today and in the future, will determine what people think about us as well as how we will be remembered. Your reputation becomes who you are in this way: first you do something and word spreads about you; next people label you based on what you have done; finally you accept the label and then you become what is said about you. It is a very simple process that can take years.
Jesus understood this process. Let’s look at Luke 7:18-23: “The disciples of John reported to him about all these things. Summoning two of his disciples, John sent them to the Lord, saying, ’Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?’ When the men came to Him, they said ‘John the Baptist has sent us to You, to ask, Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?’ ’At that very time He cured many people of diseases and afflictions and evil spirits and He gave sight to many who were blind. And He answered and said to them, ”Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have the gospel preached to them. Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.”
It becomes obvious that Jesus understood that actions speak louder than words. What would have happened if Jesus had just said “Yes, I am the One?” Would that have been enough for John since it had been prophesied that there would be false prophets? John needed proof so Jesus let His actions speak for Him. When John received the report he was satisfied. Your reputation speaks louder than your words.