Summary: The importance of uderstanding how our actions and attitudes reflect upon the character of God and how His reputation affects the world at large.
THE REPUTATION OF GOD
Back in my high school days, booing at sporting events was strictly forbidden because the principal believed it would tarnish our reputation. Failure to adhere to this standard was dealt with quickly and severely. What a difference today---fans scream at opponents, cursing at them, even throwing thing onto the field or court. There is little thought given to one’s reputation.
But the great and final issue of redemption is to be the reputation of God. That’s the goal of all spiritual achievements. That’s the glorious climax of all things. God will have a universal and glorious and everlasting reputation!
Here in Ezekiel, the term “name” speaks of God’s reputation. We often say, “That man has a great name.” What we really mean is that his character results in a far-reaching reputation. O we might hear it said that someone’s name has been dragged through the mud---tarnished, or soiled.
Webster says that a reputation is “an estimation, favorably or unfavorably, in which a person or thing is held.” Think of some names with me. What do they conjure up in your mind?
- Hitler: evil
- Einstein: genius
- Moses: deliverer
- Michaelangelo: art
- Rockefeller: money
- Mother Teresa: compassion
- Edison: inventions
Where does God derive His reputation from?
- His creation
- His mighty acts on behalf of mankind
- His Word
- His spokesmen
- His people
- His enemies
We find God’s reputation described by the term “name” in many places in the Bible. One impressive instance occurs in the record of Joshua. When Israel was defeated by the men of Ai, Joshua pleaded with the Lord. He said, “O Lord, what am I to do now that Israel has fled from her enemies? For when the Canannites and the nations hear about it, they will wipe us out. And then what will happen to the honor of your great name? (Joshua 7:8,9, LB).
Joshua dreaded that God’s reputation might be ruined. And so should we!
Let’s consider some features of God’s reputation.
1. GOD MUST HAVE A NAME
It’s an absolute necessity, for His own sake, for His people’s sake, and for the world’s sake.
We hear much these days about the rights of the individual. What about God’s rights? Is He not entitled to a name, a reputation? He is declared to be the Creator of all that is. He is the Author of Life. He is perfect in all His ways. His love knows no limits. He is the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Surely He is deserving of a reputation that is above all reputations.
God is not impassive. He has feelings. He has personal desires. And He desires a reputation widespread and splendid. But He doesn’t desire it for His own sake alone. He desires it for His people’s sake. One of the greatest blessings is to know what the character of God is like. We need to study the attributes of God. We need to become more and more familiar with His desires and goals so that we might understand His will for our lives.
It’s also necessary that God have a reputation for the world’s sake. Man, considered as separated from God by sin, needs to know His redeeming name. Give God a name! The world needs to hear of His reputation as the Lover of our souls!
2. GOD’S DELIVERANCES GIVE HIM A NAME
- He delivered the Hebrews from Egyptian bondage
- He delivered Daniel from the lion’s jaws
- He delivered Jonah from a sea monster
- He delivers sinners from condemnation
- He delivers us from fear, evil habits and Satan’s control
- He delivers us from sorrow and depression and a feeling of worthlessness
Again and again He has done it! Spread His fame abroad. Proclaim it everywhere. He deserves it. We owe it to Him.
3. THE CHARACTERSITICS OF GOD’S PEOPLE
GIVE HIM A NAME
It can be truthfully said that we, as believers help shape the reputation of God in the minds of others by the way we live. God’s reputation as an “Enabler” is enhanced or tarnished, depending on how well we manifest the fruits of the Spirit. Men always think more highly of God when they see the qualities of love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness and self-control in His people. Our lives are the only theology most people will read. We should make it our aim to give the world an adequate and lovely impression of God.
A pious church member, who thought himself to be a great Christian, visited the junior department of the Sunday school. The Superintendent asked him to say a few word to the boys and girls. He stood pompously before them and asked, “Why do you think people call me a Christian?” There was an embarrassing silence. Then a small voice from the back of the room said, “Because they don’t know you.”