All they knew was that people were saying, “The one who used to persecute us is now preaching the very faith he tried to destroy!” Galatians 1:23 NLT
“We bought plenty of paper. Mom said she remembered all the writing my brother had to do.”
I was back after a year’s hiatus. What looked like greener grass on the other side of the fence was for a time, but when the offer came to return to teaching I knew I needed to go. Since our congregation had dwindled to about half of what it originally was, I figured I could handle doing both. After clearing it with the board, I gave my affirmative answer to the headmaster and settled back into teaching the same subjects in the same classroom.
When I had taught previously, I had the reputation of being a “grammar Nazi.” This time wouldn’t be any different. Having students write the concepts I taught them seemed the best way to make the material stick.
So when I told one class to get out three sheets of paper and complete the assignment on the overhead, some groaned. But the young girl whose brother I had taught made the above comment. She wasn’t worried about running out of paper. Her parents had stocked her up. No problems here. Bring on the work. Good or bad, my reputation had preceded me, and she was ready.
Paul knew a little about a reputation also—an unpleasant one. In giving his testimony of how God had changed his life, he tells how the churches in one area didn’t know him—but they had heard. He was the one who had killed and persecuted Christians. Now he preached the gospel he had tried to stomp out. Some doubted his validity. Perhaps it was a trick to get them to reveal their Christian identity so he could drag them off to prison.
Good or bad, reputations follow us. They are like credit ratings. It takes years to build a good reputation, but one bad decision can ruin it—sometimes for a lifetime. God forgives our mistakes and foibles. He did Paul’s. But not everyone is as forgiving as God. Some doubted Paul’s sincerity, and some may do the same with us if we have a checkered past. That’s why it’s so vital that we’re the real deal in the present and work to keep our reputations spotless. People tend to remember the bad more than they do the good.
Don’t let bad decisions ruin your reputation. Be known for your love for God and others.
Tweetable: What does your reputation say to others?
Prayer: Father, preserve our reputations, reminding us that we are Your representatives.