It does not take much to ruin a reputation and it takes everything to try to protect one. At the end of the day though reputations will rise and fall; it is only our relationship with God that will be long lasting. It only takes one person with partial knowledge and a lot of assumption to destroy what has taken some people years to build. We can try and do everything right but reputation is nothing more than the opinion of what people see on the outside. The Word tells us to live our lives to the extreme of holiness, do everything right so that you never give cause for anyone to speak evil of you. We are told to avoid even any appearance of wrong. Yet, we are still at the hands of people's perceptions of our actions. So what do we do?
What we do is live our lives for the glory of God and not by the opinions of man. Yesterday we considered how the Word of God is the only non-changing thing in our lives. Today we read 1 Peter 2 continuing with a "therefore". He says:
Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. (1 John 2:1-3)
The Word of God is the rule of our lives. Jesus lived this Word, because he is the Word, and set the example for us. Because the Word of God is what we live, what we measure ourselves against we should understand that we must rid our lives of the things that do not honour our God and our relationship with him. If we stop living for our reputation and start living for Jesus we will gladly see these things out of our lives, even if people believe they are there. We cannot do a thing about other people's opinions and thoughts but we do know what to measure ourselves against, and it is not the opinion of man.
If we have malice and any deceit in us then we are not measuring up to the Word of God. If there is an hypocrisy, where we say one thing but do another with our actions then we are not measuring up. If there is any envy or an form of slander then we are not measuring up. But these things are difficult for man to know and measure because they do not know our heart or our thoughts. These are things that we measure with the assistance of God and they are the things that we must then give account to him.
Sometimes we are so quick to judge what we do not know. We have a little bit of knowledge and fill in the rest with assumption and we make a mess of things. I was recently been reminded of the axiom, "Believe nothing of what you hear, and only half of what you see". We cannot know the motivation or intention of others. Just as we do not want to be judged and criticized, we should avoid it as much as possible. If we feel we have no right to ask qualifying questions we should consider that we have no right to make assumptions. If we feel we can ask questions for clarity then we should ask.
Our real concern should be our own hearts in relationship to the Word of God. If we ask the Spirit's help to put this ancient text into action in our lives I think we would find ourselves less critical of others and more concerned over the pain of their wounds. It is amazing that even with this knowledge that when we feel attacked we strike back. Instead we should understand where the pain is coming from that is provoking such an attack. Understand your enemy. Pray for them and love them. Let's stop worrying about protecting our reputation; Jesus never worried about his. Let's do what is right according to the Word of God as demonstrated to us by the living Word, our Lord Jesus Christ.