Tag Archives: reputations

Acts 5-8; What Would People Think?

Some time ago, I read an opinion drawn from some kind of research that said men tend to dress for comfort, while women dress to impress other women. Some people have been known to go into debt in order to appear successful to family, friends, and coworkers. I wonder how many decisions I make every day based on what I think others will think about me.

Ananias and Sapphire made the decision to cook the books a bit so it looked to everybody else that they gave the church the entire amount they received from the sale of some land. I guess they wanted people to look at them as exceptionally generous or something.

Simon was a successful magician, and had somewhat of a following. (Something like our modern day equivalent to 1,000 followers on Twitter.) But when Peter and John laid hands on believers who then received the Holy Spirt, Simon wanted that ability in his arsenal, too. He even offered to pay the apostles if they’d share their trick with him. Don’t kid yourself. Simon wasn’t interested in being used by God to share Christ. He was more concerned about what his followers would think if he couldn’t keep up with the apostles.

The Pharisees and Sadducees never stopped being protective of their reputations. We see them throw the apostles in prison when the apostles were leading people to Jesus through teaching and miracles. Any convert to Christianity was one less person who looked up to the Jewish leaders.

But Peter and the other apostles stood firm. They certainly didn’t care that the Sadducees and Pharisees wanted them to stop speaking for Jesus. In fact, they didn’t care at all what the Sadducees and Pharisees thought of them:

We must obey God rather than men! (5:29)

And there’s the point. If you clean up your language around certain people, and let it fly around others you might have a problem. If you laugh at certain jokes, or watch certain shows, or go certain places around some people but not others, you might have a problem.

I don’t believe the Bible teaches we shouldn’t care at all what people think. I care that people see Jesus when they look at me. I care that my decisions reflect my relationship with my Savior. But not because I want to appear like a good person. I want to always be used by God to draw someone to Him, not me.

And sometimes that means going against what others think. For me, it means passing on that alcoholic beverage. It means never using God’s name as an exclamation mark. It means walking away from gossip, or not responding to every stupid thing someone posts online. It means caring enough about what God thinks of me that I don’t hesitate to love the person who is unloving, that I’m not ashamed to reach out to someone others think is too far gone. It means understanding that my audience is not just the person sitting next to me. God Himself is listening and watching me every second of every day.

I believe Scripture teaches that if I am above all concerned with God’s opinion of me, He will take care of what others think about me. And if they don’t like my stand for God’s truth, I want to still stand firm. Because I have to obey God rather than people.

What would other people think if I lived a consistent life, obedient to God? I’m reminded they hated Jesus. They just might hate me, too. But I am also reminded that many were drawn to Jesus as well. My prayer is that when people look at my life, they will think that having Jesus in their lives just might be so much better than what they have without Him.


Deuteronomy 25; The Family of the Unsandaled

I got stalled in my reading today at verse 10. Moses was talking to the Israelites about the rights of a young woman, widowed before she could have a child. Moses said the dead man’s brother was to marry her, have a child by her, and the child would be considered the extension of her first husband’s ancestral line.

If the living brother refused her, she could take him to court. If, even after the town’s elders talked to him, he still refused, the widow would bend down, remove her brother-in-law’s sandal, and spit in his face. He would be totally humiliated in front of the whole town as he held on to his stubborn disobedience.

So why wouldn’t he be identified as “The Unsandaled Man?” Why did Moses tell the people this man’s family would always be identified with his disobedience: The Family of the Unsandaled.

Jewish genealogy was so important to them, I wonder why a guy would set his children and grandchildren up to bear the tarnish his sin caused? How self-serving can a person be?

I went to the commentaries on my shelves, and even Matthew Henry had little to say on the subject. So I went to Google. Google has an opinion on just about anything. I wasn’t disappointed.

Well, a little disappointed. I found one pastor who said these verses in Deuteronomy support gay marriage. (sigh). But another pointed to Ruth and Boaz and the fact that Jesus came out of their union. Another pointed to the time the religious leaders tried to trip Jesus up by using this passage. But I couldn’t find an answer to my question concerning the family of the guilty man.

So I decided to pray. (Not proud of the order of my actions here today) I asked God if there was something He wanted me to know about this verse. I sat and thought about it, meditated on it, and I prayed again. And here is what I believe God would have me share:

We are all born into a family. We all carry a family name. We rub shoulders with the people in our community as part of an identifiable family. My sisters and I grew up as “The Zehner Girls.” And even though today most of us have different last names through marriage, we are still known to many as “The Zehner Girls.”

But there is another means of identification. And that has to do with character. I bet you know a “Family of the Unfaithful.” Or a “Family of the Liar.” Or a “Family of the Gossip.” What about “The Family of the Lazy?” “The Family of the Hot-Head,” or “The Family of the Drunk?”

Some people believe the nut doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Maybe you also know “The Family of the Compassionate.” And a “Family of the Humble.” Do you know “The Family of the Dependable?”

The thing is, what you do and who you are in the community reflects on those dear ones in your home. Maybe you live like what you want is more important than they are. Maybe you’ve convinced yourself it’s your life, and they have nothing to do with your choices, or that your choices can’t hurt them. I think God would have us know differently.

Then I thought about another family with whom we identify. That’s our church family. When people look at your church family do they identify them as “The Church of the Faithful” because YOU are faithful? Do they recognize your fellowship as “The Church of the Generous” because of YOUR generosity? Are you known as “The Church of the Compassionate” as you reach out to the needy in your community? “Do they see you as “The Church of the Truth” because you live your life according to Scripture?

Like it or not, the world is judging your family, and your church, by how you live and the choices you make. I don’t want my legacy to be a slap in the face to my family. In fact, as I sit here and wonder about what I’d like that legacy to be, I would like us to be known as, “The Family That Looks Like Jesus.”

And if that’s my goal, I’ve got some praying, some searching of Scripture, some loving and serving to do in His Name.

I hope you will consider the title your family is known by, and what you’d like it to be. I’ll be praying for you.

June 7 – Guilt By Association

Proverbs 13-15

“You are who your friends are.” Ever been on the receiving end of that hard truth? As a middle school counselor, I had to address it often. Hanging out with a bully, going along with bullying, being a silent partner makes you a bully. It’s a hard lesson for kids – and adults to learn.

You might not drink alcohol or have casual sex. But if you continue to associate with the crowd that does, people will lump you together with them. Your reputation will be the same as their’s.

Is that the reputation you want as a follower of Jesus? And don’t say, if that ‘s what they want to think about me, it’s their problem. No, dear one. What they think about you is YOUR problem.

Proverbs warns us to choose our friends carefully. 13:2 says, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”

14:7 says, “Leave the presences of a fool, or you will not discern words of knowledge.”

Who are the people you hold closest? Are they strong in their commitment to the Lord? Do they have reputations for being honest, kind, trustworthy, having integrity?

Solomon says if we hang out with fools, we’ll eventually become foolish. The reverse is true, too.

A thought keeps coming to mind as I write this. In this day of technology, a question we might ask ourselves is, who do we associate with online? What sites do we frequent? Who do we listen to?

And what TV shows do we watch? Does the humor, or the content agree with Scripture? Can we guard our hearts and still tune in week after week to shows that promote sin?

Solomon warns us that if we spend time with fools, and I think that could include time in front of the TV or computer screen, we will eventually become fools ourselves.

May 9 – Making A Name For Ourselves

2 Samuel 8&9, I Chronicles 18

Scripture tells us David made a name for himself. (2 Sam 8:13) He had soundly defeated his enemies, and news of that traveled far and wide. David was a warrior. David was a mighty king. David honored God and was blessed by God. Don’t mess with David.

My nephew’s high school senior class did the traditional, “Best Smile,” “Most likely to succeed,” “Best Athlete” thing this year. But, like many high schools, they threw in some “funny” ones, like “Goofiest Smile,” “Most likely to procrastinate,” “Biggest Ego.”

I hate this tradition! I mean, who wants to be remembered as the worst procrastinator or the person with the most annoying laugh? It’s not funny to most of them today, and it certainly won’t be funny twenty years from now.

The truth is, we are all making a name for ourselves. You may be identified on your job as a hard worker, or someone you never want to be stuck on a project with. Your friends might identify you as caring and honest, or a gossip and self-centered. Your family might identify you as loving and nurturing, or cold and way too busy.

God has me thinking about the name I am making for myself. Is it a name that honors Him? Is it a name I even want? What is it people really do see when they look at me?

May God be pleased with how I live my life, my reputation, and may people identify me first and foremost with my Savior. God and I have some work to do.