Premise for Today: In these contemporary days, what about the importance of understanding how our actions, attitudes reflect upon the character of God, how our actions reflect back upon His reputation affecting the world at large.
Throughout history, there have been a proliferation of sports scandals at the amateur and professional levels. Most recently the “sign stealing” scandal in professional baseball. In most, if not all of these situations, there was a key moment of decision when the decision was made to cheat and when allegations inevitably surfaced. The cheaters choice was between character and reputation.
Ideally, each of us would like to have both – both a strong character and a good reputation. However, circumstances often force us to choose one or the other. If I choose character, then my integrity will lead me to do the right thing, perhaps even at the expense of the reputation of my organization, family or myself. If I allow the most important issue to be how something will look to others, then I will immediately go into damage control and take actions to limit any news getting out. This can easily lead to a delay or absence of proper accountability.
“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” –Late UCLA Basketball Coach John Wooden (1910 – 2010).
You and I will have opportunities throughout our lives to uphold both our reputations and our characters. Sometimes we might have to choose one. May you and I always desire to please God and make the choice that honors Him.
But, what of God’s reputation? God has given His children many promises to hold on to. Jesus relied exclusively on His Fathers reputation when ministering to the people of His day. Jesus Implicitly trusted His Father’s reputation and His Character. This implicit trust never even minimally wavered. This measure of trust in His Heavenly Father was such that He willingly chose Death at Calvary! Considering the intervening years between Calvary and 2021, Is this where our measure and degree of trust in the reputation of God and Jesus Christ remains?
The question of whether or not we choose to accept God’s free offer of salvation rests squarely upon our own degree and measure of trust in the one giving the promise in the first place. Because the great and final issue of redemption is to be the reputation of God and His Son and Holy Spirit too. That’s the goal of all spiritual achievements. That’s the glorious climax of all things. Father God, His Son Jesus Christ will have a universal and glorious and everlasting reputation!
I know there are uncountable numbers of individuals across the great expanse of the earth who likewise have questions about the worthiness of God and the reputation and character of His Son, Jesus Christ. These questions and concerns are definitely righteous ones to be asked and worthy of being given a response. I do not know if anything I write may change your minds about God and/or His Son, Jesus, to which I only respond, changing your mind is out of my pay grade.
- What matters more to you: the opinion of others or the opinion of God?
- When you do wrong, are you more focused on the wrongdoing or on getting caught?
- Could you be satisfied if God were pleased with you but everyone in the world was displeased?
- What if everyone in the world was pleased with you, but God was displeased?
So, what does the Word of God say and teach us about the Reputation of God?
Ezekiel 36:16-28 HCSB
Restoration of Israel’s People
16 The word of the Lord came to me: 17 “Son of man, while the house of Israel lived in their land, they defiled it with their conduct and actions. Their behavior before Me was like menstrual impurity. 18 So I poured out My wrath on them because of the blood they had shed on the land, and because they had defiled it with their idols. 19 I dispersed them among the nations, and they were scattered among the countries. I judged them according to their conduct and actions. 20 When they came to the nations where they went, they profaned My holy name, because it was said about them, ‘These are the people of Yahweh, yet they had to leave His land in exile.’ 21 Then I had concern for My holy name, which the house of Israel profaned among the nations where they went.
22 “Therefore, say to the house of Israel: This is what the Lord God says: It is not for your sake that I will act, house of Israel, but for My holy name, which you profaned among the nations where you went. 23 I will honor the holiness of My great name, which has been profaned among the nations—the name you have profaned among them. The nations will know that I am Yahweh”—the declaration of the Lord God—“when I demonstrate My holiness through you in their sight.
24 “For I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries, and will bring you into your own land. 25 I will also sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all your impurities and all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone[a] and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will place My Spirit within you and cause you to follow My statutes and carefully observe My ordinances. 28 Then you will live in the land that I gave your fathers; you will be My people, and I will be your God.
The Word of God for the Children of God. In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
Ezekiel 36:22 Amplified
Israel to Be Renewed for His Name’s Sake
22 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went.
Here in Ezekiel 36:22, 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—scandalized, 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 reputation(s) do they conjure up in your mind? What does history tell us about their character as they lived their days?
– Joseph Stalin, Adolph Hitler: Genocidal evil
– Albert Einstein: Scientific genius
– Moses: deliverer
– Joshua: Leadership
– Michelangelo: art
– The Carnegies and the Rockefellers: Titans of Industry and Philanthropy
– Pope John Paul 2, Mother Teresa: Saintly compassion
– Thomas Stephen Monaghan: American entrepreneur who founded Domino’s Pizza in 1960.
– God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – Genesis 1-2, John 1:1-5, Acts 2
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 Canaanites 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).
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 perfect 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 long standing church member, who thought himself to be a truly great Christian, visited a 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,
“Is it Because they don’t know you?”
The story is also told of a soldier in the army of Alexander the Great, who was brought before the great world-conqueror for court martial. When the emperor had listened to the charges and the evidence, he turned to the soldier facing condemnation and said, “What is your name?” “Alexander!” was the reply.
Again the emperor questioned, “What is your name?” And the second time the soldier answered, “Alexander.” With a cry of rage, the emperor roared, “I say, what is your name?” And when the soldier answered for the third time as he had before, the great general angrily replied, “You say your name is Alexander? You are found guilty of your crime as charged and now you must truly pay the penalty. Either change your conduct or change your name, for no man can bear the name of Alexander, my name, and do any of the things that you have done.”
4. TRANSFORMATIONS GIVE GOD A NAME
The crowning work of God is the transformation of a soul—from a sinner to a saint—from self-centeredness to God and neighbors-centeredness—from darkness to light—from wickedness to righteousness—from fear to faith—from bondage to freedom.
And who else could do it but God? Nothing gives God greater fame in all the world than a regenerated individual! Men may argue theology and doctrine but not a changed life.
When the Lord wanted to make an impression on this old world that men or devils, time or eternity could not erase, he met Saul of Tarsus on the Damascus road and pulled him off of his little donkey, blinded him and put him to praying. True transformation of the soul leads to a life of service, sacrifice, and praise. These qualities will not go unnoticed by the unbelieving world. They will serve to remind them of the nature of God, reputation of Jesus. (Galatians 2:19-21)
The apostles and other 1st century Christians lived such consecrated lives that people from all walks of life sat up and took notice (Acts 2 – 3). Many of them were drawn to Christ because they were amazed and astounded when they asked themselves, “What kind of a God must this Jesus Christ be that He could command such unyielding loyalty, such willing sacrifice, such total service?”
5. PRAISE GIVES GOD A NAME
This involves not only gratitude, but also speaking up whenever God’s name is blasphemed or brought into question. We must not be ashamed to testify as to His greatness and grandeur.
Our steadfast praise and devotion speaks of and decisively to God’s goodness, faithfulness, and unchanging devotion to His children. We especially enhance the reputation of God when we praise God during severe trials and suffering. His grace and strength are testimonies to His enduring love and undying hope.
Worthy! What a beautiful word! For those of us who are disciples of Jesus, we know of only one who is truly worthy. He is worthy to open the scroll and reveal the future. He is worthy of praise and adoration. Why? Because even though he was holy, perfect and heavenly, his death on the cross to purchase our pardon, forgiveness, and salvation made him worthy. And he did it not just for us, but also for people of all races and languages and cultures. Jesus, you are worthy!
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Let us now Pray!
The Reputation of Love
has its source in you
flows from you like an ocean
into a world as unyielding
as any shoreline cliff And like the ocean
and wears away
even the hardest stone
your love persists
finds cracks and inlets
in hardened hearts
flows inside and works a miracle. Who would think that water
was more powerful than granite
than the hardest heart
Thank you, Creator God
for the power of your love and reputation of your name!
In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen!